WFM Software —New Features from Microsoft Teams
Noise cancelling and hand-raising features planned months ago take on importance as employees forced from offices.
Microsoft Corp. has announced new features for its Corporate Chat Teams, scheduled for the third anniversary of the company, and coming in the midst of a wave of interest in digital messaging tools at the workplace sparked by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Picture from Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Several of the tools could be especially useful for workers in the temporary work from home. Real-time noise suppression will block background typing and family members sharing the same room in the orders of virus isolation. Another function allows users to digitally “raise their hands,” an advantage for large conference calls while everyone is trying to communicate.
There is also offline and low-bandwidth support that allows users to read and write messages without an internet connection, and a tool in United Stated that lets smaller companies use Teams as their phone service, Microsoft said Thursday in announcing the new features.
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said that while everyone is most focused on health and safety, as well as the economic impacts of the virus, technology like Teams can help.
“We also of course recognize the role of technology and how it can play a supporting role for those working tirelessly to reduce the impact of Covid-19 — from health-care providers staying connected with tele-health solutions, schools and universities teaching via virtual classrooms and remote learning, to businesses of all sizes who are enabling their employees to work remotely,” Nadella said in a virtual press briefing.
On the other hand, the rivals of Microsoft that is Slack Technologies Inc. On 18 March, Slack unveiled an app redesign meant to make its workplace communications software simpler to use and more tailored to an individual’s needs, as it tries to fend of Teams. The two companies have been battling to add more features and gain more customers. Microsoft said Teams had 32 million daily users as of March 11 — a number that climbed to 44 million worldwide as of Wednesday. Teams now has 20 clients with more than 100,000 users apiece, and over 650 customers each with more than 10,000 users, the company said. Slack last reported 12 million daily users in September but that was before the recent explosion of remote work.
Now both chat services, along with Zoom Video Communications Inc.’s software, are getting more use than any of the companies could have anticipated, but not for the reasons they hoped. It remains to be seen whether the products perform well in the current trial-by-fire and whether work habits permanently changes the pandemic. Some Teams users in Europe and the U.S. experienced outages and slowdowns on Monday.
“We’re never going to go back to working the way that we did,” said Jared Spataro, a corporate vice president at Microsoft 365.