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Delving into Microsoft Places: How can it enhance hybrid work experiences?

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The world of work is rapidly evolving, and the traditional boundaries between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. The rise of hybrid working has enabled many organizations to offer flexible arrangements that allow employees to perform their duties from anywhere in the world.

However, as more companies move toward hybrid models that combine office-based and virtual working environments, there’s an increased need for new solutions for managing distributed teams. Microsoft Places is an innovative tool designed to facilitate this transition by promoting team collaboration and resource sharing across both physical and virtual locations.

What is Microsoft Places?

Microsoft Places is a connected workplace platform that helps businesses coordinate their hybrid workforce. It comes with tools that enable organizations to manage in-person and remote meetings, set up physical and virtual spaces, and analyze the use of said spaces. The platform is closely tied with the Microsoft 365 environment and set to be released sometime in 2023. 

How does Microsoft Places improve hybrid working arrangements?

The seemingly simple features of Microsoft Places make a world of difference when managing a hybrid workforce. Here’s how Microsoft Places helps businesses maximize the value of their hybrid working arrangements:

1. Encourage in-person connections with hybrid scheduling

Microsoft Places’ hybrid scheduling feature looks for any data in Microsoft Teams and Outlook that may indicate when employees are planning to attend the office. This data could be interpolated from calendar entries, chat messages, room bookings, and planned meetings that indicate when an employee will be in the office. By leveraging this data, business leaders can better anticipate office attendance, so they can manage working spaces accordingly and facilitate fruitful impromptu discussions between team members.

2. Use intelligent booking to find the ideal workplace for everyone

Microsoft Places features an intelligent booking system that allows users to find the ideal workplace based on the number of in-person participants and the purpose of the meeting. For instance, if the meeting consists of only four in-office staff members and 10 remote participants, the booking system will find a smaller conference room that has a good Wi-Fi signal, speakerphone, and HD webcam. The booking system will even provide in-person meeting attendants with optimal commute times and alerts for when to leave, ensuring that all participants arrive on time.

3. Streamline modern workspaces

Two features in Microsoft Places that can dramatically improve how people navigate the workspace are wayfinding and hot desk booking. With wayfinding, employees can see a map of their workplace with directions to their assigned meeting room or cubicle. Meanwhile, hot desk booking allows staff to see which workstation their coworkers are using and reserve the appropriate desk for themselves. This is especially helpful when team members need to work closely together on a joint project.

4. Optimize workspace resources with analytics

Microsoft Places has a built-in workplace analytics dashboard that displays data on space utilization, room and hot desk occupancy, and energy usage. This data gives managers insight into attendance patterns and work preferences, enabling them to better allocate resources and optimize workspaces for maximum efficiency.

For example, if the data shows that a certain room is being used only 20% of the time, the manager may decide to reduce its size or repurpose that room for other activities (e.g., storage and recreation). They can also temporarily close underutilized workspaces and floors to reduce energy costs. Alternatively, if the data indicates that a certain conference room or workstation is being overbooked, the manager can set up additional workspaces to meet the demands of their hybrid workforce.
Microsoft Places is just one of the many tools that can help you get the most out of your hybrid workforce. If you want to level up your organization’s hybrid working arrangements, In-Touch IT has the solutions and expertise to get you there. From collaboration and productivity tools to analytics and network optimization, we can help your team thrive. Call us today to learn more.