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Checking up on your Home Workers

According to a PWC survey, 31% of US employers believe that productivity has slipped as the result of home-working during the lockdown. 25% reported no change and 44% said they had experienced greater productivity. In order to have greater control, Microsoft has rolled out its “Together” mode for Teams. This is a video conferencing tool that tries to bridge the gap between virtual and in-person meetings, by providing an alternative to the “grid view,” (all call participants are displayed on-screen). Together uses AI segmentation to place all participants in a single virtual environment such as an auditorium or coffee bar, creating the illusion that they are in the same space.

Microsoft has also attempted to address nonverbal cues that often either go unnoticed or distract participants on video calls by allowing callers to engage in shared virtual space and even virtually “touch” one another, which Microsoft claims will help convey body language. It also relays video through a mirror effect to reduce eye-contact irregularities arising from camera placement, which can make it appear as though participants are not making eye contact [note from your editor, hopefully, this will this stop people angling their cameras so that all you get is a close-up shot of their nostrils, which can be off-putting].

Meanwhile, in addition to the new online conference system launched recently in Ghana, the South African video-conferencing Web application is gaining traction in the past few months, growing to more than 50 000 monthly active users worldwide.

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Alastair Tempest

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