“The ‘future of work’ necessitates a new approach that helps people connect with one another in considerably more dynamic and engaging ways. Technology will play an essential role in enabling individuals to make daily decisions that optimize how they work and offer insight to organizations that are focused on managing their environments and operations with greater agility.”
— Georgia Collins, CBRE
In the last few years, the definition of a workplace has undergone a significant change. The COVID-19 pandemic has established remote and hybrid working as the new norms. And industry experts believe that a blend of in-office and remote working (aka the hybrid model) will continue to be a preferred work model for organizations across the globe.
However, a transition from in-office to hybrid work presents organizations with a new set of challenges. Employees are trying to determine how to leverage the given flexibility, deliver more every day, whereas employers are looking to increase productivity by coordinating with a hybrid workforce. Additionally, organizations are trying to manage the costs associated with infrastructure management while utilizing the space they have at its best.
To make the transition from remote to hybrid working successfully, organizations need new technologies to bridge the physical and digital divide that will benefit both employees and employers. Therefore, at Microsoft Ignite 2022, Microsoft announced a new category of technology solutions called Connected Workplace, which includes a new workplace app – Microsoft Places, that can help organizations deal with the challenges of hybrid working.
Microsoft Places: Turn your Spaces into Places
Microsoft Places is a new connected workplace platform that enables organizations to optimize the workplace and reimagine their existing hybrid and in-person working scenarios. This platform can be seamlessly integrated with other applications in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. It can be accessed by the employees from their home offices or elsewhere they might be working. Leveraging this platform, organizations can engage, empower, and organize their teams like never before. Let’s dive deep to unveil how this platform ensures seamless hybrid working.
Features of Microsoft Places for Intelligent Working
Microsoft Places combines multiple planning and resource management solutions that enable employees and managers to collaborate in-person and plan their in-office days based on when their co-workers will also be coming in. The core focus of the platform is to help managers coordinate with their staff, collaborate, stay on top of deliveries, and achieve business outcomes through hybrid scheduling and intelligent technology. Some of the notable features of Microsoft Places include:
1: Leverage Hybrid Scheduling and Intelligent Booking
Microsoft Places Hybrid Scheduling feature collects every user’s data from Microsoft Teams and Outlook. The data helps employees identify when their colleagues and close collaborators will be in the office, allowing them to plan their in-office availability a week ahead. This way, employees can connect with their colleagues in-office, arrange in-person meetings, and be more productive.
On the other hand, managers and business leaders can keep track of their team members’ availability in the office, manage the real estate, and ensure effective office space utilization. They can also schedule in-person meetings with the team members and discuss business-critical tasks in one place.
Microsoft Places comprise an Intelligent Booking System that empowers employees to find the right meeting room / space in the office for their in-person/hybrid meeting based on the attendees and technology required for the meeting to be successful. Additionally, this platform notifies the best time to commute to and from the office, ensuring employees don’t waste time in traffic or commuting on long routes and be efficient at work.
2: Modernize Office Spaces with Intelligent Tools
Microsoft Places familiarizes employees with their physical and virtual workplaces, ensuring effective use of the workplace. Leveraging ‘Wayfinding Solutions,’ employees can search for the right conference room in no time by getting a location map on their mobiles. Another interesting feature of ‘Hot desk booking’ will be introduced in Microsoft Places which allows employees to find the space where their colleagues are sitting, promoting collaboration at work.
To provide the opportunity to collaborate on business activities and initiatives seamlessly, once the user reaches the correct office space, Microsoft Places can be easily integrated with Microsoft Teams Rooms. For impromptu yet business-critical discussions, employees can have “Serendipitous Meet-Ups” with anyone in the office via Microsoft Places.
3: Optimize Resource Management
With extensive data and information from Microsoft Places, managers and leaders can get analytical insights related to occupancy trends and energy-saving tips and manage their investment in infrastructure. They can plan on being in the office on specific days and free the resources for others. Leveraging the ‘Space Optimization Feature,’ employers can cut costs associated with energy, administration, and more when fewer team members are present.
4: Integration and Partnerships to Drive More Value
Microsoft is looking to proactively manage the challenges faced by organizations in rapidly evolving workplaces. Apart from facilitating organizations with a wide range of features in Microsoft Places, Microsoft is also partnering with leading industry experts. Towards this, the Redmond-giants have already partnered with innovators in the Infrastructure, Platform, Experience, Environment and Planning sectors. Microsoft believes that such a diverse eco-system of partners will make sure that organizations can leverage Microsoft Places to deliver a engaging, holistic, and impactful workplace environment to employees from all backgrounds.
The new workplace solution already offers a seamless integration with Microsoft 365 workloads namely Teams, Outlook, and the rest.
Turn Physical Spaces into Collaborative Places with AgreeYa
“We believe that organizations can create more engaging experiences for employees while getting more from their physical assets by using technologies that can help streamline the workday, balance employee inclusion, and experience, and support ongoing portfolio optimization.”
—Phil Kirschner, McKinsey & Company
AgreeYa, a leading Systems Integrator and a Microsoft Legacy Gold partner, has been helping organizations to communicate and collaborate seamlessly with its Modern Workplace solutions. As Microsoft Places will roll out for public preview in 2023, AgreeYa can enable organizations to leverage this new technology solution to have amazing, connected workplace experiences.