The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives tremendously since the beginning of this past year. I realize not all of us are not able to work from home, but if you are you might have found yourself in various online meetings whether that be on Skype, Zoom, or teams or any other video chat related platform.
Stay Awake Stay Connected
You might also have noticed that it is sometimes hard to keep attentive, alert, and engaged in such calls. Microsoft claims to have the answer as to why that is. According to their recent research, the reason you might find yourself easily distracted or suddenly tired during these video calls lies behind the layout of your video call.
We have all seen the classic virtual meeting format with the little boxes on your screen dividing up the different participants in the call and staring at these little boxes says Microsoft is the reason for your fatigue.
We’re All in This Together
We are not used to interacting with people sectioned off individually and our brains get tired switching between the different boxes while trying to acknowledge each participant says Microsoft. To solve this problem Microsoft has come up with their new Together Mode which can handle up to 49 people at once allowing participants to look at a crowd of people rather than the boxed off individuals.
How it works
The Together Mode will allow you to take all participants’ images and putting them all together in one shared space. One of the options so far is putting your colleagues in a shared auditorium. By doing this you are making it easier for your brain to process the information from the people you are speaking to.
Although Microsofts research is preliminary at this stage they have found that people tend to be happier and more engaged in meetings by using this tool. It is also a way to more easily pick up on social cues when looking at all participants collectively rather than missing out on behavioral cues because you were looking at a different box at the time.
For now, the Together Mode only offers the auditorium view but Microsoft is working on providing more settings for you to have your meetings in, for example, the cozier more laid back ”coffee shop mode” setting.
See the video below to learn how the Together mode works in practice.
More to come
Soon Microsoft teams are planning to bring whole companies together in the future featuring video calls that can handle up to 1,000 participants at once.
Although the pandemic will eventually end, perhaps evolving the way we move forward with online meetings is not such a bad idea. We at least hope that for the time being this can help us stay focused and motivated and maybe even a little bit amused.
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