Give the Gift of Well-being Via MS Teams | Maybe well-being, perhaps, means a little bit more…

It came without buttons; it came without clicks.

It came without flashing lights, pop-outs, or tricks …

Maybe employee well-being, we thought, doesn’t come from a score,

maybe … well-being … perhaps means a little bit more.  

Microsoft Teams Focuses on Well-being & Mindfulness 

This year has forced us to innovate and find new ways to keep work moving forward. For many, this meant enabling a remote workforce. Perhaps your organization was already fully remote, or maybe you’d never dreamed of performing your job behind the screen. Still, either way, it’s undeniable, the way we work is fundamentally changing. 

As more organizations embrace the cloud, the digital workspace has become vital to an organization’s success. But is that success at the detriment of the people behind the screen? Humans thrive on connection and long to define and achieve our purpose. We spend a significant amount of our life ‘at work’ and now for many that also means behind a screen.  

Well-being & Productivity

While 2020 accelerates the shift to remote work—which can have many promising aspects—it also amplifies stresses, blurs boundaries, and disrupts work/life balance. Microsoft isn’t ignoring this. Over the last few months Microsoft has unveiled some very exciting technical features and updates coming to Microsoft 365, but what I’ve found most compelling is their focus and attention to employee well-being. And even if you think this is all fluff, there’s something in it for those of you looking at the bottom line. Microsoft is seeing the undeniable link between employee well-being and productivity. 

“There’s a recognition that employee wellbeing is important and a catalyst for productivity,” says Barbie Stafford, marketing director of Microsoft 365. 

It’s great that Microsoft acknowledges that well-being is important, but how will they help us achieve it? Here are 5 ways Microsoft is committing to making Teams a workspace not just for innovation, efficiency, and productivity but one that fosters employee well-being.  

1. Together Mode in Microsoft Teams Meetings (Now Available)

Together Mode—which admittedly still makes me giggle when I see it in action—is designed to help us combat meeting fatigue.  Our brains must work harder when meeting virtually in the standard grid format. In together mode, we’re able to better focus, and our brains actually function more productively in this format. Read more on Together Mode and the science behind it.  

More options and features for Together Mode will be coming in 2021. 

2. Virtual Commute (Coming 2021)

One thing I never thought I’d utter as a Californian was, “I miss my commute,” but as much of the workforce was forced to remote work nearly overnight, those few moments in the car might have had a bigger impact on our mental health than we all realized. Coming March 2021, employees can schedule a virtual commute to help properly decompress and transition to and from ‘work mode.’ “Commutes provide blocks of uninterrupted time for mentally transitioning to and from work, an important aspect of well-being and productivity. People will say, ‘I’m happy I don’t have to commute anymore. I’m saving time.’ But without a routine for ramping up for work and then winding down, we’re emotionally exhausted at the end of the day,” said Shamsi Iqbal, principal researcher at Microsoft Research.  

3. Headspace Partnership to Encourage Mindfulness (Coming 2021)

Microsoft has also teamed up with Headspace to encourage mindfulness through meditation and well-being check-ins. We can expect to see these integrations in March 2021.   

4. Personal wellbeing and productivity insights coming in Microsoft Teams (Coming 2021) 

Much of feeling overwhelmed and stressed is the ‘unknown.’ Microsoft is now making insights into our personal well-being and productivity transparent so we can proactively pinpoint and address issues and take control of our workday. Personal insights will begin rolling out in March 2021.  

5. Manager Insights from Workplace Analytics (Coming 2021)

Microsoft analyzed data on its newly remote workforce and the insights are enlightening. Coming March 2021, an aggregated view of organizational insights will help managers know if their team or individual employees are at risk of burnout. According to Microsoft, “the dashboard will provide recommended actions based on research to help managers and leaders facilitate well-being. Installing the new Insights app in Teams will allow people to see the new features.” We all know tone starts from the top, so providing management valuable insight into team well-being is vital to curating a positive culture. 

It starts with mindfulness at the top

We can apply scores to productivity, but without first fostering well-being there’s only so much we can truly achieve. Microsoft is giving us great tools are leaders and organizations, but we also must remember it all starts from the top.  

What well-being features are you most excited to see in action? How are you ensuring the well-being of your team? Would you like to chat more about how you can leverage Teams to bring mindfulness to your organization? A PixelMill Teams expert would love to chat!  

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