Microsoft announces new wellbeing features for Outlook and Teams

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Microsoft has announced some important updates for its Outlook app and Teams collaboration platform. Jared Spataro, CVP of Microsoft 365, detailed that these new features and capabilities are specifically designed to improve the well-being of remote employees.

First off, Microsoft is launching a new Scheduling feature for Outlook that should help to prevent meeting burnout. It will enable employers to make all meetings shorter by default within an organization. The ability to set organization-wide rules will make it easier for them to ensure that people have a bit of breathing room during back-to-back meetings.

“The setting is easily customizable. For example, you can choose if the break is at the beginning or end of meetings. You can also choose the length of the break. For instance, it could be a five-minute break ahead of all 30-minute meetings or a 15-minute break after all hour-long meetings. Once the setting is enabled, when employees schedule meetings, the meeting start- or end-time will automatically be adjusted based on the individual or company-wide setting,” the company explained.

Individuals can change the duration of their events in the Outlook calendar settings.

Microsoft says that these rules can be applied to individual users or across the entire organization, and all future meetings will follow them. IT Admins will be able to deploy the organization-wide setting using PowerShell, and you can find more details in this post.

The company is also adding a couple of new well-being experiences to Viva insights in Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Viva is a new employee experience platform that was introduced in February this year, and it leverages Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 services to help employees learn and grow.

The list of new capabilities includes reflection, send praise, and virtual commute features. These updates will be available starting next week.

  • Reflection: This feature will help you become more aware of how you’re feeling and identify patterns over time. These insights are personal and private to the individual.
  • Send praise: This feature that will enable you to express appreciation for your colleagues and schedule praise reminders to build a habit of sharing gratitude.
  • Virtual commute: This feature will help you wrap up your tasks at the end of the workday, prepare for tomorrow, and transition into your personal time with peace of mind.

Lastly, Microsoft is also integrating new “guided meditations and mindfulness experiences” into the Viva Insights app in Teams later this year. These features will help prevent meeting fatigue by allowing users to relax their minds before starting an important project or jumping into a meeting. If you’re interested to learn more about these wellbeing experiences, you can check out the Microsoft 365 Blog.