Together Mode is an option in Microsoft Teams that makes your participants look as though they are united in a virtual theater, rather than separated across digital boxes. It has been in existence since the start of the pandemic, but it’s recently gained a new feature.

Now, meeting organizers using Together Mode can assign seats to meeting participants by virtually ‘dragging’ the users’ images to preferred seats.

Assigned seats in meeting.
Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Once seats are assigned, the organizers can “apply” the new seating arrangement, and all meeting participants will see other participants as organized by the seating assignment.

The science behind Together Mode

In Together Mode, people know where others are within a shared virtual space. This means that the brain can track what people are signaling or emoting in a more natural way than otherwise, relying on social/spatial perception and non-verbal messages. In contrast, with a grid format, your brain cannot process where others are located relative to you, making glances and subtle cues nearly impossible.

Together mode allows for a shared space where people aren’t separated by digital barriers. According to Microsoft, people pay greater attention to one another and can gain a better sense of shared stake in a situation or journey when in virtually overlapping space. Certain behaviors signal a level of commitment to whatever is being worked on – something that isn’t easy to express or see when everyone in a 10+ person meeting is pictured in rectangles.

Together Mode also creates the illusion of eye-contact; a classic problem in current video conferencing set-ups.

“I know I speak for the many people at Microsoft who have contributed to Together mode when I say we hope you find increased well-being and productivity as you use the new Teams, and maybe even a little fun during difficult times,” wrote Microsoft’s Jaron Lanier in a 2020 blog post.

New Microsoft Teams features

New Microsoft Teams features that were added during the month of October and that could benefit your organization include live translated captions, a more detailed call history, and the ability to pop content out into individual windows. Read on to learn more.

Translated captions

The ‘live’ translated captions feature provides AI-powered, real-time translations from 40 spoken languages, allowing meeting participants to read captions in their native language. This can help reduce language barriers in global meetings and calls, allowing for greater productivity and simplicity.

Live translated captions is temporarily available for all customers. Once Teams Premium is released, each user will need a Microsoft Teams Premium license. If a Teams organizer has Teams Premium, all meeting participants will be able to use and benefit from live translated captions.

Detailed call history

Teams users can now get a more comprehensive view of call history, and can see how calls arrived, whether calls were transferred or forwarded and how they were controlled upon receipt.

Pop out shared content into a separate window

Previously, meeting participants could pop out individual Teams chat conversations, meetings and calling experience into separate windows, allowing for easier workflow integration. Now, users can also pop out shared meeting content (ex. graphs and charts) for an easier viewing and reading experience.

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