The Covid-19 pandemic has been awful. There’s no sugar coating it, and we won’t pretend that there have been any silver linings. These times have been interesting if nothing else, and the way business has evolved in the last year has been a testament to modern technology, and the human ability to adapt. A key reason many businesses were able to offer ‘business as usual’ service to their customers has been Microsoft Teams, so here’s a look at how Teams became so crucial, and what this means for the future.
The move to Microsoft Teams
The start of the pandemic in March 2020 was an extraordinary time for businesses. When the Prime Minister announced the first lockdown after a new global illness landed in the UK, businesses didn’t waste a second in moving online. Many companies had made long-term plans to migrate to the cloud, but as can sometimes happen, these plans had to be completely changed for an overnight implementation.
Thanks to readily available WiFi, coupled with an explosion in video-calling software growth, more and more people could escape the confines of the office and work from anywhere. For many forward-thinking companies this migration was already underway, which allowed them a more seamless transition to the virtual world when the real one came to a standstill – their mass migration online was not a bolt out of the blue but a progression of what was already underway.
Microsoft Teams had already been embraced by so many companies before the pandemic, which helped them stay one step ahead of their competitors. Savvy business leaders were already well-aware that video meetings save money and time, and are often – shock horror – a preference for employees. Whether you’re a digital native that’s grown-up hand-in-hand with Facetime and Skype, or you’re simply tired of endless time spent on the road, waiting for your commute to end, it’s not hard to see why Teams for business was about to have its moment.
It’s also true the many homes didn’t have sufficient WiFi bandwidth to support a family suddenly working from home, along with other demands on their broadband. Fortunately, lags and freezes are less common with increased investment in domestic broadband while Microsoft Teams only requires around 1.2Mbps of data to handle video calls. With improvements now being made to how voice and video are handled within Teams, it is increasingly able to adapt to poor or inconsistent internet signals and prevent calls from disconnecting.
Features that are coming soon to Microsoft Teams
Since March 2020, Microsoft has been making improvements to Teams and a host of new features coming soon will ensure Microsoft Teams remains a firm fixture of the future. Its readiness to evolve is one of its strongest assets and has removed any worry of a limited shelf-life. The programme has vastly increased its app integration options, adding new facets and modes, as well as fine tuning the existing functions since the pandemic began.
There are a plethora of unquestionably beneficial new updates on the horizon – and some are already in place:
- Dynamic View: automatically adjusts and personalises your layout for an optimal viewing experience.
- Customised Feeds: take control when presenting and customise how our video feed and content appear to your audience.
- Improved Security: allows for you to block downloads and have more control when sharing links to recorded meetings.
- Live Captions: you’re now able to hear and see what your colleagues are saying in real time with live captions for one-to-one calls.
- Smart Cameras: positioned at eye-level for improved eye-contact – much like sitting opposite them in real life.
- VR and AR Headsets: there are future plans for virtual reality and augmented reality integration which will transport attendees to virtual boardrooms.
- End-to-end encryption: earlier this year, end-to-end encryption was added for 1-on-1 calls, with it being expanded to group calls in the coming months.
There are also a number of small, but useful updates scheduled that will make Teams incredibly user friendly, including better recording features, and automated transcripts.
Teams’ security and privacy measures are already as good as the next best platform, but it continues to be a priority moving forward, and with agile cybersecurity and ever-evolving procedures it is a water-tight as possible.
Whilst the course of the pandemic remains uncertain, Microsoft Teams is here to stay. It has already improved significantly since March 2020, and will only continue to get better in the future, making for an exciting and encouraging future in business and remote working.