Microsoft Teams will now let you do a 'virtual commute' at the end of the day

Praise might be needed when nearly half of all employees think they'll leave their current job because they can now work remotely.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft has added new features to Teams to allow you to send praise to colleagues and even try out a 'virtual commute' that will allow you to unwind as you end the work day.

"Digital overload is real and something has to change," said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, in a blog post that explained some of the features.

To bring about this change, Microsoft is introducing several wellbeing experiences to Teams, including reflection, praise, and the virtual commute

SEE: Top 100+ tips for telecommuters and managers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Reflection in Teams aims to make people more aware of how they're feeling and – perhaps a bit scary for some people – to spot patterns of behavior over time. Microsoft says these insights from Teams are private to the individual. 

The "send praise" feature is an interesting addition, which "will enable you to express appreciation for your colleagues and schedule praise reminders to build a habit of sharing gratitude."

Microsoft has been bandying about the virtual commute idea since the pandemic began. This might seem odd as many people used to dread commuting to work when it was more common. On the other hand, people miss the familiarity of commuting to work where they engage in social interactions. But do people long for commuting so much that they would want a virtual substitute of the experience on Teams? 

According to Spataro, the virtual commute "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."

Microsoft flagged these features at its Ignite IT pro conference in September, including a Teams integration with the meditation app Headspace. 

These experiences are coming by way of Microsoft's Viva Insights app on the desktop today.    

Some people might cringe at these wellbeing features for Teams, but the intention behind their development is a good one – to tackle a challenge for employers and employees alike.  

SEE: Remote work and tech jobs: How CIOs are changing their priorities

"Teams have become more siloed this year and digital exhaustion is a real and unsustainable threat," Microsoft said in its Work Trend Index, a report based on a survey of over 31,000 full-time employees in January across 31 markets.  

The survey found that 41% of employees are thinking about ditching their current employer this year and 46% say they're likely to move because they can now work remotely.

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