Enhancing Hybrid Work with Microsoft Places

June 11th, 2024 by Moe Melki

Woman talking on phone and working on laptop

Microsoft Places, launched in 2022, offers companies a solution to improve collaboration and resource management amid the shift to hybrid work. This tool is designed to help businesses navigate the complexities of flexible work arrangements.

The Microsoft Places app enables organizations to schedule work sessions, plan in-person events, and manage various workspaces efficiently. With an increase in return-to-office mandates, many companies are encouraging employees back into the office, but the demand for flexibility remains strong. According to Microsoft, 48% of employees plan to request more flexible work schedules within the next year.

To address these evolving needs, Microsoft has updated the Places app, incorporating new features and AI-powered capabilities to support the modern workplace.

What is Microsoft Places?

Announced at Microsoft Ignite 2022, Microsoft Places is a "Connected Workplace platform" that helps companies modernize their work environments, coordinate teams, and optimize resource use. Maintaining a collaborative company culture is challenging, and without continuous investment, employees may feel isolated. Poor hybrid workplace management can lead to increased costs and reduced productivity.

Microsoft Places aims to solve these issues by offering tools for workplace coordination, integrating with existing collaboration tools like Outlook and Microsoft Teams. It also leverages the latest innovations from Microsoft’s ecosystem, such as Microsoft Copilot.

Key features of Microsoft Places (available with the right Microsoft 365 plan) include:

  • Location Planning: Employees can share their work locations and see where their colleagues will be working.
  • In-Person Meetings: Solutions to invite colleagues for in-person conversations, with hybrid RSVP options for both remote and in-office workers
  • Team Guidance: Intelligent tools providing employees with optimal work patterns based on business needs and rules.
  • Space Booking: Tools to reserve rooms, desks, and work areas, with Copilot assistance.
  • Presence: Location updates and “Peek cards” to see who is in the office on specific days.

Getting Started with Microsoft Places

To use Microsoft Places, you need a Microsoft Teams Premium plan and possibly a Microsoft 365 Copilot add-on for full functionality. Additionally, you'll need:

  • An Exchange Administrator role to manage configurations
  • The latest version of PowerShell

Once you have the necessary plan, you can download the Places app and access features like Hybrid RSVP, Expanded Presence, Location Plans, and Peek Cards. For additional features, you need to fill out the “Places Preview Additional Features Opt-in Form.”

Deploying Microsoft Places

To deploy Microsoft Places:

  1. Install the Places Module: Run the following command in PowerShell: Code: Install-Module -Name MicrosoftPlaces -AllowPrerelease -Force
  2. Enable Microsoft Places: In a new PowerShell session, enable building, apps, and location- sharing controls for your team members.
  3. Activate Other Clients: Enable Places in additional clients like Microsoft Teams and Outlook.

Using Microsoft Places for Hybrid Work

Microsoft Places serves as a connected calendar, meeting solution, and workplace booking app, consolidating information supervisors need to manage teams and helping employees decide where to work.

1. Empower Employees to Schedule In-Office Time

Scheduling in-person collaboration can be tricky in a hybrid work setting. Microsoft Places helps teams make better decisions about workspace usage based on their colleagues' plans. Employees can update their location in Outlook and use Peek cards to see nearby colleagues' schedules.

2. Leverage Copilot AI for Intelligent Decision Making

Microsoft Copilot integrates with Places, using data from employee calendars and schedules to suggest optimal desk and room reservations. Employees can adjust their schedules based on this information.

3. Optimize Booking with Microsoft Places

Employees can book necessary resources directly from the Places app. The “Places Finder” in Outlook helps users find available rooms and desks, and in Microsoft Teams, they can reserve desks automatically by connecting their device to a shared desk.

4. Improve In-Office Collaboration

In-office work offers unique benefits like impromptu coworker interactions. Microsoft Places' Expanded Presence feature shows which colleagues are nearby, facilitating these conversations.

5. Plan for Better Workplace Utilization

Microsoft Places helps businesses plan workspace and resource use with AI and analytics. Administrators can track occupancy patterns, create policies to release unused spaces, and use Copilot for strategic decisions on space utilization.

Transforming Work with Microsoft Places

As companies push for more in-office work, the demand for flexibility persists. Hybrid work can save costs, boost productivity, and attract talent. Microsoft Places equips businesses with tools to manage hybrid teams effectively, enhancing in-person collaboration and helping employees make informed decisions about office attendance.

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Posted in: Solution