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Addressing Fatigue Issue Due To Video Calls, Microsoft Rolls Out New Features

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With the coronavirus around for more than 6 months now, the response of the world to it has changed tremendously. We are talking about adjusting to the new normal when in reality we have already adjusted to it. Online communication and staying at home have become bearable for most people with businesses that are consistently enhancing their offerings, Microsoft is one of them. 

Microsoft Teams has made a few updates on the platform ever since rival Zoom came into the picture. For companies, ‘Teams’ has proven to be a good option and to make it even better, Microsoft has now introduced some new features.  

In a blog post, Microsoft has said- “These features offer three key benefits for people at work and in education. First, they help you feel more connected with your team and reduce meeting fatigue. Second, they make meetings more inclusive and engaging. And third, they help streamline your work and save time. It’s all about enabling people everywhere to collaborate, to stay connected, and to discover new ways to be productive from anywhere.”

The problem of fatigue during video calls

It is unnatural for human beings to not interact with each other physically. Video conferencing is a great substitute for meetings but it can only help see a person when interacting. For humans, communication is not just verbal, it involves non-verbal cues through facial expressions and body language. In video meetings, we miss out on these capabilities. 

As compared to physical meetings, video calls can be extremely draining for people. A person can consciously do only few things at a time. In a video call, a person puts in more emotional effort to convey their messages. It also increases the cognitive load on the human brain because with so many features the brain has to be constantly alert. 

A person can also experience different stressors during a video call such as technical lag, interference from family members during the call, and the need to always be present- physically and mentally. 

A cumulation of these feelings leaves a person in immense fatigue and aversion to video calling. 

How are these features expected to reduce fatigue

Addressing the concern of missing non-verbal cues in a video call, Microsoft Teams has added a Together Mode that will use AI segmentation technology to place participants in a shared background digitally. This might make it feel like they are in the same room. This mode allows people to ascertain body language and focus on people’s faces. 

“It’s great for meetings in which multiple people will speak, such as brainstorms or roundtable discussions, because it makes it easier for participants to understand who is talking,” Microsoft goes on to explain in the blog post. 

The Dynamic View feature also uses AI in determining space for shared content and video participants. With new controls, users can choose how they wish to view content and participants on their screen. It can be a large gallery view or split up in small groups for brainstorming sessions. 

For your personal appearance, Video Filters feature will help adjust lighting and view. Another feature for employees will be the Reflect Messaging Extension that will help managers check up on their employees with check-in messages, custom questions, and polls, which can be anonymous. 

“Our research shows that employee well-being is more important to productivity than ever. Creating an emotionally supportive environment is key to keeping people healthy, happy, and focused. The new Reflect messaging extension gives managers, leaders, and teachers an easy way to check in with how their team or students are feeling — either in general, or about a specific topic like work-life balance, the status of a project, current events, or a change within the organization,” concludes Microsoft on the features introduced for fatigue. 

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