Collaboration has always been essential to the success of any business, but in the world of hybrid working, it’s taken on a new dimension. With a dispersed workforce, employee collaboration has become a priority for business leaders, who are investing more in collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams and OneDrive.

Although Microsoft Teams enables coworkers to share documents more freely (in group chats, for example), it can become a problem when edits are required, with multiple versions of a document existing across platforms. Microsoft Fluid offers a solution for this, with real-time document sharing for graphs, lists, etc. that can be accessed and edited right in Teams.

Additionally, Microsoft Loop and Microsoft Mesh for Teams are new collaborative solutions poised to launch in 2022. Both are designed with the hybrid model in mind, and are expected to bring a more dynamic and immediate collaborative working style to your organization. Here we take a closer look at what you can expect.

What is Microsoft Fluid?

Microsoft Fluid is a framework that enables better employee collaboration through real-time document sharing and task distribution. It promises to be a big leap forward for collaboration, empowering remote workers who need a more “fluid” method in which to collaborate.

Instead of working with graphs, for example—which are static and exist in a separate app like Excel—Fluid allows documents to exist as “components” (i.e., collaborative modules which lie across different applications). Therefore, users no longer have to utilize separate apps to open documents. Instead, they can drag and drop the components into Teams chats or emails, which enables a more immediate method of sharing information. And the low-latency framework ensures collaboration is in real-time, so users are always looking at the latest and most up-to-date version.
Applications like Mesh and Loop are using the Fluid framework to access data and make it accessible to multiple applications like Word, Excel, Teams, etc. without having to input the data more than once.

What new solutions has Microsoft developed for hybrid working?

Employee collaboration has been the driving force behind a lot of Microsoft solutions, and Fluid is a good example of this. However, other collaborative solutions are also on their way to market. In November 2021, Microsoft announced the rebrand of some parts of its Fluid Framework as Microsoft Loop—a flexible canvas with portable components. And in 2022, Microsoft plans to roll out Mesh for Teams, which provides a mixed reality platform for users to collaborate. Let’s have a look at both tools now.

Microsoft Loop

Employee collaboration with Microsoft Loop is enhanced for the hybrid work model. The new app consists of three elements:

  • Loop components: an evolution of Fluid components. The modules (like graphs, notes, tables, and tasks) will sync in multiple applications and enable work in real-time. And information does not have to be replicated across different formats. For example, the data entered into a voting table, will sync as edits are made, and can exist on multiple apps such as Teams or Outlook. Additionally, version control of Loop components is not needed as the data will always be updated.
  • Loop pages: are flexible canvases where users can organize components and pull in files, links or data. They can start small and grow as a project matures, and Loop pages allows real-time collaboration, so users are able to shift paragraphs around, edit data, and communicate naturally with a range of emojis and expressions.Microsoft Loop employee collaboration
  • Loop workspaces: are shared spaces that allow a team to group everything relevant to a project. The workspaces enable a more collaborative approach to projects, where users are able to track each other’s progress, share ideas, and catch up on what everyone in a team is working on. Loop workspaces allow for more transparency, and ensure all information is stored in one place, saving employees time and effort when searching for information.

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Microsoft Mesh

Microsoft Mesh is a mixed reality platform designed for better employee collaboration. It allows users to enhance virtual meetings, conduct virtual design sessions, help others remotely, and host immersive meet-ups to boost productivity.

Microsoft Mesh will give coworkers the ability to collaborate in a virtual reality environment, existing as holograms or avatars. Employee collaboration with Microsoft Mesh will feel more immersive than a traditional Teams environment, where coworkers feel as if they are collaborating in person regardless of their location.

Microsoft Mesh will facilitate more physical types of collaboration that are not possible via video calls or messenger. Design tasks, or any type of communication with a physical, “show-and-tell” element will be made possible, ensuring coworkers who rely on these types of collaboration can remain operative in a hybrid working model.

New updates 2022

Presenting with Cameo – Microsoft has introduced Cameo, an embedded camera feature in Microsoft PowerPoint. The feature lets you present live, with the camera feed embedded into slides. The feed can be moved, resized, and cropped all while presenting, so the audience can see you and your slides simultaneously.

Share to Teams from Outlook – this feature allows you to share emails—including attachments—from Outlook to any channel or chat conversation in Teams. The feature requires an add-in for Outlook that automatically installs whenever you log into Teams online or via the app.

The future of employee collaboration

Same-place workspaces look to be a thing of the past, with most organizations moving toward a hybrid model. Microsoft pre-empted this paradigm shift and is now riding its wave with an impressive suite of tools already under its belt and new solutions on the horizon. Microsoft Loop and Mesh will bring a competitive edge to those businesses which use them early on. They will enable a dynamic workforce to do their best work, bringing coworkers into the same space regardless of the location.

To learn more about employee collaboration with Microsoft solutions, watch the webinar hosted by MessageOps.

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