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Microsoft 365

From sign language capabilities to gaming in Teams—here’s what’s new in Microsoft 365

Empowering today’s digitally connected, distributed workforce requires the right culture powered by the right technology. And the most effective teams are ones where everyone feels engaged, included, and inspired to collaborate with one another.

This month in Microsoft 365, we’re highlighting new capabilities to boost productivity and inclusion. We’re bringing gaming to Microsoft Teams to help foster team building, enabling you to send scheduled messages at just the right time, and improving accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing or anyone who uses sign language. We’ve also introduced the follow feature in Microsoft Whiteboard to help meeting facilitators keep the group focused and on topic, and a new tool IT administrators can use to help teams optimize their existing suite of Microsoft products. In this blog, we’ll explore these features and recent updates to the Microsoft 365 app—let’s dive in.

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Foster team building, collaboration, and morale through play in Microsoft Teams

This month, we’re introducing the Games for Work app* for Microsoft Teams, developed by Microsoft Casual Games, an Xbox Games Studio.** Playing games with co-workers has a powerful ability to boost collaboration, break down barriers, and foster team building. More than 40 percent of leaders consider relationship building to be the greatest challenge in hybrid or remote environments, according to the Work Trend Index.1 Although seemingly counterintuitive, gaming at work can lead to greater workplace productivity. According to a Brigham Young University study, teams that played short games together were 20 percent more productive than those that engaged in traditional team-building activities.2

Maintaining an energized and collaborative workforce requires more intentionality than ever, and games are a way teams can foster creativity while building trust and confidence in one another. The Games for Work app integrates directly into the flow of your work and can be added to your next Microsoft Teams meeting. Choose from a selection of favorite casual games including Microsoft Minesweeper, Solitaire, IceBreakers, and Wordament—all easy to play in quick, interactive, and multi-player versions (which range from 2 to 250 players).

Games for Work app includes a variety of games including Microsoft Minesweeper, Solitaire, IceBreakers, and Wordament to build collaboration and team morale in Microsoft Teams.

The Games for Work app is now available for Microsoft Teams Enterprise customers only. If it is not available in your Teams app, reach out to your IT admin for support.

Send messages without disrupting your colleagues’ non-work hours

Another way to build an inclusive culture is by respecting boundaries—including when you use technology to reach out to colleagues. The new schedule send in Teams lets you manually select the future date and time to send a chat message to be delivered, just like you can in Outlook. Simply select and hold (or right-click) the send button to schedule send your message. Schedule send allows you to stay productive and in the flow of work by giving you the flexibility and control to deliver a chat message when it works best for you without disrupting a recipient’s off-hours.

Schedule send is now generally available for commercial and users. Learn more about schedule send on the Microsoft Teams blog.

Keep interpreters and other sign language users visible in meetings

Microsoft Teams

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Sign language view is a new meeting experience in Microsoft Teams that helps signers—people who are deaf/hard of hearing, interpreters, and others who use sign language—keep one another prioritized on center stage, in a consistent location, throughout every meeting. Targeting the common scenario where a deaf/hard of hearing participant is working with one or more interpreters in a meeting, the sign language view provides a more predictable way to keep up to two signers visible at all times. When enabled, the prioritized video streams appear at the right aspect ratio and at the highest available quality. And like pinning and captioning, this view is personal and will not affect others in the meeting. You can enable sign language view either on the fly within a meeting or as a setting that persists across all your calls.

Sign language view provides a more predictable way to keep up to two signers visible at all times during a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Sign language view is currently available in preview and will be rolling out to general availability for the Teams desktop and web clients in the coming weeks. Read the full announcement—or watch it in ASL—to find out more about our work in this space.

Guide discussions by having everyone follow your view in Whiteboard

Another way technology helps create inclusive cultures is by making it easier for everyone to stay engaged no matter where they’re working. Meeting facilitators using the follow feature on Whiteboard can now lead to more engaging, visually guided discussions. The follow feature allows meeting facilitators to bring everyone else on the whiteboard to their location and have them follow the facilitator’s view. A participant initially following a facilitator can pause their view of the whiteboard at any time to edit or explore the whiteboard on their own, and then they can easily resume following the facilitator when they’re ready.  

The follow feature helps meeting facilitators guide participants through the whiteboard and lets facilitators focus attention and discussion on key parts of a presentation. Participants will no longer feel overwhelmed without guidance. And facilitators will no longer need to spend time during meetings helping participants find where they should focus on the whiteboard.

The follow feature helps meeting facilitators guide participants through the whiteboard and lets facilitators focus attention and discussion on key parts of a presentation.

Follow in Whiteboard will start rolling out to Microsoft 365 enterprise customers at the end of the 2022 calendar year.

Maximize your Microsoft 365 investment with new Adoption Score capabilities

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New capabilities in Adoption Score help IT administrators make the most of their Microsoft 365 investment through aggregated insights while maintaining our strong commitment to user-level privacy. Armed with this data, IT administrators can send templatized reminders and messages explaining how teams can gain efficiency and potentially be more productive if they were to deploy existing Microsoft 365 resources.

We understand that different parts of an organization have different styles and needs. To allow IT administrators to see nuances in each business group in Adoption Score, we added group-level aggregates to Communication, Content collaboration, Meetings, and Mobility, with support for Teamwork to follow. Group-level aggregates enable IT administrators and adoption specialists to filter by five Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) attributes—Company, Department, Country, State, and City—which helps improve transparency about which parts of an organization are adopting recommended practices with Microsoft 365.

At Microsoft, we are deeply committed to the privacy of every person who uses our products. As part of that commitment, no one in the organization will be able to use Adoption Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365.

Learn more about how to realize value by using Adoption Score and other new intelligent capabilities designed for Microsoft 365 admins and adoption specialists at our recent Ignite on-demand session. To understand more about managing the Adoption Score experience, go to our Adoption Score documentation page.

Do it all with the Microsoft 365 app on the web

The Microsoft 365 app is home to all your favorite productivity tools, as well as the third-party solutions you choose to add. It’s your go-to application for all the ways you work today, and it provides personalized recommendations powered by Microsoft Graph.

Enhanced capabilities on the Create page allow you to quickly get started on team projects, documents, or creative content with easily customizable templates for any professional or personal occasion. Get inspired with even more curated templates and tips at Microsoft Create. My Content makes it easy to access all your files in one place—whether created by you, shared with you by teammates, or shared in meetings you attended. To focus your attention on the most pressing tasks, Recommendations uses the intelligence of Microsoft Graph to let you know which of your workstreams needs your attention next.

And, in the coming weeks, we will introduce brand new features such as Feed, which showcases your organization’s relevant files and content based upon who you work with and what you work on, and Tagging, which allows you to group and organize your content and files with custom tags across your different workstreams.

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These updates highlight how we are innovating across Microsoft 365 to help everyone work better, smarter, and more cohesively while reducing cost and complexity for IT administrators. We will have more new updates in the new year, which we can’t wait to share.

*Available for Microsoft Teams Enterprise and Education customers only; if not available in your Teams app, reach out to your IT admin for support.

**Games for Work is a pilot app and its performance as well as feedback from users will influence the casual game roadmap in Microsoft Teams; the current Microsoft Teams gaming policy is unchanged until we complete the pilot. 

1Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong? Work Trend Index Special Report, Microsoft. September 22, 2022.

2Study: Collaborative video games could increase office productivity, Todd Hollingshead, Brigham Young University. January 28, 2019.