This new Microsoft Teams feature could save you from project overload

But Loop for Teams might also bury you deeper in the worst aspects of collaborating in work groups.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft's new app Loop is coming to Teams chat with the aim of transforming how workers think and plan when collaborating with large, remote teams. 

Microsoft unveiled Loop at its Ignite conference for IT pros in November

Loop is partly a rebrand of its Fluid framework technologies but is now available as a standalone app called Microsoft Loop to assist with project management and collaboration. It can be used as an app itself or embedded within other apps, like Teams, Outlook, OneNote, and the Microsoft Whiteboard. 

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Loop's three elements include components, pages, and workspaces. It's the components part that is debuting on Teams chat for desktop and mobile today. 

"Loop components in Teams chat offer a new way to think, plan, and create together," Microsoft's Daniel Vargas says in a blogpost

The app is rolling out now to Microsoft 365 commercial customers, and allows users to send tables, tasks lists and paragraphs to others in a chat. Recipients can then edit the content inline and see changes made in real-time. 

Microsoft reckons it will make it easier to share ideas, make decisions, collect data, and track progress while collaborating on live documents. 

Loop adds more immediacy by enabling collaboration within a conversation through the @mention feature. It's one more way to grab someone's attention. 

Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your appetite for distractions in often confusing threads on platforms like Slack, Teams and Google Meet. But @mention features are here to stay, now entrenched as prominent features of Google's and Microsoft's respective office productivity suites. 

"Loop components enables you and your team to stay connected without worrying about working with stale information as components are always live and up to date," says Vargas. 

In the case of Loop for Teams, Loop sends a notification in Teams and an email to people who get an @mention. Users can click or tap any part of a component to see who wrote what. Each Loop component has a file and can be found through Search in Teams, Office online, and the Office mobile app. 

Microsoft appears to be aware of the potential for Loop, and more generally collaboration apps, to create confusion for workers. 

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A Loop status report, for example, is meant to handle rapidly changing collaborative conversations. Loop has a table that tracks deliverables in their own row that allows others to follow in columns broken down by owner, status, and due date. 

There are also mini breakout rooms to help deal with ballooning conversations.

"Have you ever seen a conversation fly off the rails when a few folks go off on a tangent?," writes Vargas. 

"One of the most creative uses of Loop components we have seen is a sort of 'mini breakout room,' right within the same chat."

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