M365 Monthly Update: November

This month’s update is dominated by a swathe of new Teams features that have been promised for a while. As Teams usage soared earlier this year jumping 70% and hitting 115 million users per day in October, so did the feedback from customers. It’s great to see the quick response from Microsoft with big ticket updates including breakout rooms as well as better management and configuration options.

We know it’s hard to keep on top of all the new updates to Microsoft 365, it can be tricky for us too. The surprise of waking up in the morning and the interface to your favourite app has changed or there’s a great new feature that everyone seems to be using except for you.

To help we’ve rounded up the latest updates from November that we think you should know about, why you need to know about it and when it’s coming.

1. Yammer community notifications in Teams

What’s new:

Yammer users can be notified in Teams when announcements are made in communities that they are a member of and when the user is @ mentioned in a conversation. This change makes it easier for users to see their Yammer notifications and conversations, stay engaged, and react — all within Teams.

If your organization or specific users in your organization have installed the Communities app in Microsoft Teams, they will begin receiving notifications in the Teams activity feed at the beginning of November.

Why is this important:

Yammer vs Teams is a question I’ve had many times. And as we know they both have their strengths depending on the desired outcome. And although we have had the Yammer app in Teams for a while now, it still felt a little disjointed. This addition however fully connects the two, meeting people where they are working, in Teams so that you don’t miss out on important Yammer activity. Channeling all notifications through the one feed makes it easier to track what’s happening and empowers users to manage their workload however it works best for them.

When is it coming:

Starting November 2020

Ending January 2021

2. Forms in Teams meetings

What’s new:

Any meeting presenter can add the Forms app as a tab in the Teams meeting. Before the meeting, the presenter can create draft polls. During the meeting, the presenter can create and launch polls that any attendee can view and answer. All attendees will be able to see the results in real-time, and respondents can respond to a poll after the meeting if the poll has not been closed.

Why is this important:

Keeping meetings interactive and engaging is now more important than ever. As virtual experiences become ubiquitous in our working lives we need to rethink how we engage remote participants so that every team member feels included and heard. In meeting polling allows participants to vote in real time allowing all results to be collated in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem and easily distributed.

When is it coming:

Avalible now

3. Live transcriptions in Teams

What’s new:

Live transcripts in Microsoft Teams meetings will provide another way to both follow and review meeting conversations. From early next year when you opt to record your meetings Teams will automatically transcript the meeting available to download from the meeting chat.

Why is this important:

You won’t have to scribe your meetings again. Just let Teams do it from now on. The live transcript will form part of the meeting summary package coming next year and showcased at Ignite. This groups together all meeting assets including, recording, transcript and documents from the meeting so participants can quickly catch up.

When is it coming:

End of February 2021

4. Meeting chat membership

What’s new:

These changes will manage a user’s access to a meeting chat based on how they were invited to the meeting. A participant’s access to meeting chat will be dependent on how they were invited to the meeting:

Single meeting:

Original and forwarded invitees maintain access to chat.

Directly added participants have access to chat for the duration of the meeting. Chat access is removed at the meeting conclusion but they will be able to review the meeting chat history.

Why is this important:

Make sure there aren’t any awkward moments when meeting participants are privy to the chat thread when it wasn’t meant for them. This default setting provide a good safety net when it comes to keeping chats for intended eyes only, but remember all other original meeting participants will still have access.

When is it coming:

Mid December

5. Teams custom meeting images

What’s new:

Teams admins will be able to upload a custom logo for display in the Teams meeting lobby and pre-join screens. This feature is completely optional for your organization.

Why is this important:

Make Teams a little more personal and brand your Teams meeting spaces. This is a great addition to those external presentations and large events.

When is it coming:

Mid December

6. Meeting chat moderation settings

What’s new:

Once available, meeting organizers will be able to set the “Allow meeting chat” setting within the Meeting options. This will enable them to manage participant’s ability to chat prior to, during and after a meeting.

There are 3 options for this setting:

On (default): allows chat at any time.

Off: will make meeting chat read only and no one can send messages in chat including the organizer.

During the meeting only: participants can send message during the meeting only and the organizer can send messages all the time.

Why is this important:

Some more controls around meeting chats here. It was one of the most requested features on Teams and it shows. With this update, you can introduce some strict boundaries around if and when participants can chat. Remember though, if the chat is on, or during a meeting, only everyone will still see your messages. Maybe mention this at the start of large meeting so participants know where they stand.

When is it coming:

Early February

7. Intelligent file recommendations for Planner

What’s new:

This new Planner feature allows users to quickly add attachments to their tasks from an intelligently curated list of relevant files. The recommendations are based on the task and the user.

Why is this important:

Planner getting smarter. The power of the AI working with the Microsoft Graph results in great productivity wins like this. Similar to the recent file suggestions found across the Microsoft suite, Planner will suggest files based on activity, access and content.

When is it coming:

End of January

8. Introducing smart backgrounds for Planner

What’s new:

This new Planner feature allows users to view smart image recommendations and add a relevant and unique background image to each plan, Powered by Designer. The image recommendations are based on the title of the plan.

Why is this important:

Ok so this is not that important, but cool non the less. Planner will suggest a background based on the title of the plan. Nice to designer being used in other apps, what other uses could it have I wonder?

When is it coming:

End of January

9. Virtual Breakout Rooms

What’s new:

Breakout rooms allow meeting organizers to split main meetings into smaller sessions for focused discussions.

Why is this important:

Organisations have been screaming for this and finally it is starting to roll out. You’ll no longer have to hack meeting rooms out of different invites and channels.

What you need to do:

Make sure that you can start utilising these great meeting additions as soon as they hit your tenant. Once your Admins have turned on break out rooms you’ll need to:

1. Click on your profile image within Teams

2. SelectSettings

3. Check the “Turn on new meeting experience” option within General settings.

4. Restart your Teams client.

When is it coming:

Mid December

10. End of meeting notification

What’s new:

Teams will inform participants when there are five minutes remaining during any scheduled private or channel meeting. The notification will appear on screen for 10 seconds and disappear without any user action.

Why is this important:

Meetings are one of the biggest productivity drainers in businesses today. One organisation studied by the Microsoft Workplace Analytics team calculated more than 300,000 hours spent in meetings totalling $30m. So any features that can help us reduce meetings or at least finish on time are most welcomed.

When is it coming:

Early December

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