09/17/2020

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Microsoft Teams Creates Virtual Commute Feature



Microsoft Aims to Replicate Some Positive Aspects of Commutes

As some people look ahead at months of working from home, many are missing the comradery of the office and the ease of face-to-face discussions. One aspect of in-person work that many are probably not missing is commuting to and from the office.

However, Microsoft (MSFT) is creating an update to its Teams package which will replicate some of the positive aspects of commuting that are no longer a part of many people’s work days.

Creating Time to Reflect and Boundaries Between Life and Work

The new feature will allow users to schedule virtual commutes at the beginning and end of their days. Teams will prompt people to start the day by setting goals and reflecting on how they are feeling. At the end of the day, the platform will allow users the opportunity to think about what they accomplished. Users can also answer questions about how they are feeling and document if they are overwhelmed or frustrated. They will then be given the option to listen to a 10-minute Headspace meditation.

The virtual commute is also designed to help people create a distinct start and end to the work day. Microsoft reported that chat volume on Teams between 5 p.m. and midnight has gone up by 48% over the past six months, showing that when people do not physically leave the office, they can feel more pressure to do work throughout the evening.

Microsoft’s Goals

The development of this virtual commute feature is part of Microsoft’s larger goal of providing services—not only for employee connectivity and productivity, but for employee wellness. Companies are realizing the importance of caring for their employees’ mental health during this time of remote work, and Microsoft wants to give them tools to do this.

As Kamal Janardhan, General Manager for Workplace Analytics at Microsoft 365 explained, “I think we at Microsoft have a role, almost a responsibility, to give enterprises the capabilities to create these better daily structures and help people be their best.”


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