Microsoft made several announcements at their annual Ignite Conference for IT leaders and developers that was held virtually last week. Announcements ranged from new product and service launches, Azure updates, and AI licensing announcements, and they also announced several new enhancements to Microsoft Teams.

In an effort to keep in pace with rivals like Zoom and keep up with the demand of users relying on the collaboration suite for remote work and learning, Microsoft announced the following updates.

1. Breakout Rooms: One of the most requested Teams features from users was the ability to split up participants into smaller groups to facilitate brainstorming and workgroup discussions. By the end of the year, presenters will be able to create and hop between breakout rooms in addition to closing rooms and returning everyone to the main meeting.

2. Virtual Commute: Microsoft is partnering with the meditation app, Headspace, for users to create a customizable “virtual commute.” In a 2017 study, Microsoft researches showcased that improvements in productivity came from winding down from work at the end of the day. With the majority of employees still working from home, there is no chance to unwind with a physical commute, so Microsoft is launching technology to help users close out the day.

3. Custom Layouts: Several more Together mode features using AI segmentation technology to digitally place meeting participants in shared backgrounds will be launching to mimic realistic settings. These layouts include auditoriums, conference rooms, and coffee shops. Other custom layouts in presentation and content sharing mode were announced as well.

4. Meeting Recap: After a meeting is over, a recap with the meeting recording, transcript, chat, and shared files will be automatically created. The recap can be accessed in the meetings Outlook calendar invite and easily shared with others.

5. Increased Participants: Microsoft Teams will now support up to 1,000 participants and 20,000 in a view-only meeting experience.

As remote work becomes the new norm, it is vital for companies to provide employees the tools they need to facilitate collaboration and communication. With Microsoft Teams and their recent updates, users will have an even better work-from-home experience.