In a Microsoft Teams video meeting, every member of the meeting is assigned a square block of the screen. Although it makes a video meeting efficient, they are still separated by the square or rectangular blocks. What if all the members of Microsoft Teams appear as if they are in an auditorium?
Instead of seeing all the users in a square or rectangular grid separately, you see all of them together in a virtual space. This feature is the new “Together Mode” which is designed to build a virtual live avatar of all members of the team and negate their backgrounds. Microsoft engineers have been working on “Together Mode” for a long time, but only hastened the project during the surge in Team’s use during the COVID pandemic.
Does Together Mode in Teams Really Work?
Though many critics called it gimmicky in the beginning, it provides the same feel of face-to-face meetings. Looking at all the members together at once transcends beyond technology, and human beings are wired for being socially affable. This new feature leaves a feeling of being in a virtual company of a large group rather than individual isolated boxes. Yes, this ‘Together Mode’ feature really works.
Benefits of Together Mode
Apart from having a feel-good factor of social interaction, the biggest benefit of Together Mode is being able to see all the members of the meeting together. The limitation of seeing just a restricted number of people at a time is eased. In a normal Teams video conference, the person who speaks frequently appears on the meeting screen. The mute spectators in the background are virtually ignored unless they speak in the meeting. The new feature ‘Together Mode’ acknowledges this issue. You can easily identify all the people present on the conference call as well as read their body language and reactions during the meeting, which is otherwise difficult in their home environments or using tailored backgrounds.
Another benefit of Together Mode is that it keeps the excitement alive. Many studies have claimed that video conferencing can no doubt improve collaboration and productivity, but it is also exhausting and draining. The concept of “video call fatigue” is being studied where researchers aim to study the psychological impact of virtual collaboration on the human mind.
Together Mode – A Lot of Psychology Is Involved
Human beings crave for social connection. A real social gathering beats the video environment, even with the best of collaboration technology. With Together Mode, Microsoft tries to bring the feeling of togetherness in a virtual way. Humans connect emotionally with body language and expressions.
A gathering of people is more human than individual stacked inside in the boxes. This is essential for building feelings of trust, shared purpose, and a sense of belonging. Microsoft Teams’ Together Mode is built upon the values of human psychology and sociology.
Team’s Together Mode feature eliminates traditional boxes, creating a feeling of social cohesion that humans have cherished as throughout the evolution of our species. Though the benefit is intangible but helps to make us feel more comfortable and natural during a video call.
Who Can Access Together Mode in Teams?
Microsoft rolled out the new Together Mode feature in early August, which is available to all users. As of now, it is available for the desktop version only but will be extended to the Android/iOS Teams application soon. As seen in the picture above, the Together Mode feature will be launched with an auditorium view. This view provides a semblance to people gathered in an auditorium, while you watch the audience as a speaker. More views are expected to be launched as the feature evolves.
How to Enable Together Mode in Teams?
- Go to the “Settings” tab after clicking on your profile.
- Check the “Turn on new meeting experience”. If this is not available, wait for the feature to be available soon as it gets rolled out in phases.
- After that, start a video call in Microsoft Teams with at least five people. More the number, the better will be the visual effect. The maximum number of people in Together Mode is 49.
- Click three dots while on the call and select “Together Mode”
- Enjoy the auditorium view.
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