New Microsoft 365 app could solve one of the biggest problems with hybrid work

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Microsoft has a new Microsoft 365 app called Microsoft Places that will try to “optimize” hybrid workspace management.

Introducing the app at the Ignite event, the company explained that the intention is to inform team members about when colleagues enter the office and to suggest whether certain meetings are best held in person.

It also teased “intelligent digest,” a feature that will use artificial intelligence to analyze meeting recordings to assign tasks to team members, take minutes and share “personalized insights.” Intelligent Summary will be available as part of the new Teams Premium package.

Microsoft Places and Hybrid Works

The introduction of Microsoft Places, the company says, is supported by research data. According to the company’s recent Work Trend Index (opens in new tab)more than 80% of employees go to the office to meet and work together.

Microsoft believes a software solution is needed to bridge the gap between the pre-pandemic world of face-to-face work and remote work compensation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Places, it claims, will provide detailed insights into the workplace and advice on how offices can benefit from reconfiguration as businesses adapt to hybrid work environments.

Other features include a “modernized” conference reservation system, as well as insights for business leaders to assess how office space is being used and how best to approach hybrid work policies.

But employees who are comfortable with video conferencing need not despair. Places, Microsoft claims, is being developed to “[connect] virtual and physical spaces”, and to make offices safer and more transparent after the outbreak of the pandemic.

While at least some space for remote work has lingered in many workplaces, the transparency in office spaces that Microsoft aims to provide with Places could renew employee confidence in office environments, with a renewed focus on employee safety.

But the discussion about the tool’s long-term impact on work practices will have to wait. As of now, Microsoft Places is only “coming soon in preview”.

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