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At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago (yes, it’s been two years folks), Microsoft was one of the first companies to understand how the health crisis would transform the workplace. Of course, two years on, the idea of working from home, combining remote/on premises work, has become common… the age of the hybrid workplace is here.

Today, Microsoft is highlighting how it has embraced hybrid work within its own organization with the Microsoft Work Trend Index 2022 report. Furthermore, the company is showing how it is integrating hybrid work solutions into its products, such as Microsoft 365, Windows 11, and Microsoft Teams.

Starting with the second annual Work Trend Index report, Microsoft surveyed 31,000 people in 31 countries using data from LinkedIn and Microsoft 365. It shows there seem to be a growing disconnect over what businesses expect and what employees want regarding hybrid work.

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Specifically, 51% of organizations say they plan to return to total full-time office hours by the end of the year. At the same time, a majority of employees say they prefer to mix work between the office and home. Perhaps this fundamental disagreement is why 41% of employees say they are considering leaving their job.

What is clear is that even if organizations envision are return to pre-pandemic norms, that is unlikely to happen. Employees now understand they can remain productive in a hybrid work environment.

Microsoft’s Hybrid Work Roadmap

Microsoft is one board with the hybrid work revolution and is gearing up a wide selection of its service to appeal to the growing hybrid work crowd. Specifically, the company is today discussing hybrid-focused changes coming to Microsoft Teams, PowerPoint, Outlook, and even Surface devices.

Starting with Outlook, the email client will get a new RSVP feature. This will make it easy for meeting attendees to say whether they will be present in person or virtually. Microsoft says the ability will come to the public preview of Outlook for Web during Q2.

On Microsoft Teams, several enhancements are coming soon to appeal to remote users. Starting today, Teams has a new layout known as “Front Row.” This positions the video gallery at the bottom of the screen so those who are physically present in a meeting can see remote participants face to face.

In Microsoft Teams Rooms, those who attend in person can join meetings from their device to remote workers can see who is present. Microsoft says this is important in conference situations because only 8 percent of all conference rooms have video abilities.

On the hardware side, Microsoft is introducing a Surface Hub 2 smart camera:

“Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera reframes, adjusts lighting, and enables incredibly wide angles of view, all without any warping, distortions, or depth-of-field issues that might otherwise limit what is visible,” explains Steven Bathiche, corporate vice president of Windows and devices at Microsoft. “The team put tremendous work into tuning the experience to capture and frame what is occurring in the room while being smooth and natural for remote viewers or participants.”

More Hybrid Features

PowerPoint is still a core component of the meetings realm. Microsoft says it is merging the recording studio and cameo features together to create a more seamless and efficient PowerPoint. Cameo is a tool that works with cameras in Microsoft Teams by integrating them into a presentation. Recording studio allows the addition of audio recording on any slide. Microsoft will finalize this merger of the two tools during Q2.

Tip of the day: Windows sometimes refuses to delete certain folders or files. In our tutorial we show you how to take action in such a case and still erase the affected files from your hard drive.

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