Microsoft looks to ease the shift to hybrid work with its Places app – Computerworld

“The ability to have an assisted intelligence agent ‘uncomplicate’ scheduling and peer connectivity issues will be well received, if it works as planned…,” he said. “Most of us have too many complicated interactions theses days and raising the needed flags for pending obligations is a welcome feature.”

An “expanded presence” feature enabled by Places is available across Microsoft 365 apps. It provides users with a glimpse of who’s in the office at the same time, making it easier for co-workers to arrange a quick face-to-face chat. Microsoft said all location data adheres to its privacy standards, with opt-in and opt-out controls accessible to admins and users.

 The “expanded presence” data is “aggregated and anonymized in reports about office occupation trends,” Microsoft said in the blog post.  

Places will also provide admins and facilities managers with analytics on office use, letting them see what space is available and what’s actually needed. Copilot, once integrated with Places, will provide suggestions on how best to manage and adapt spaces to meet demand. 

Adapting to new working patterns is a challenge facing many companies, said Gold. “While the pendulum has begun to swing back to in-office work for some organizations, after a rapid increase in remote work spurred by office closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality for most is that they’ll be supporting some level of hybrid work going forward,” he said. “I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.” 

A recent 451 Research report indicated that organizations are investing in various technologies to enable a hybrid workplace, including contactless technologies such as biometrics and voice user interfaces (28%) and office space management technology (35%) that includes hot-desk reservations, IoT sensors and AI-driven analytics to optimize office capacity. 


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