Microsoft Places uses artificial intelligence to find the best time for your next office day

Microsoft is trying to solve the problem of coordinating with colleagues about when everyone will be in the office. It’s an issue that has emerged with the increase in hybrid and flexible working following the recent Covid-19 pandemic Workers spend less time in the office. Microsoft Places is an AI-powered app currently live that should help companies that rely on Outlook and Microsoft Teams better coordinate in-office time together.

“When employees arrive at the office, they don’t want to be greeted by a sea of ​​empty desks — they want face-to-face time with their manager and the coworkers they collaborate with most,” says Microsoft’s vice president of AI at Work. Jared Spataro, in a blog post. “With Places, you can more easily coordinate coworkers and spaces in the office.”

Employees will be able to decide which days they use office space.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft Places includes a dedicated site plan section where you can set and share the days you’ll use the office and view the days your coworkers suggest you head over. Managers can set up priority days for plans within the office, so if there’s an important event or day for the team, everyone knows about it. This location data will then be entered into your Outlook calendars, so you know when events are happening in the office and when to choose to head there.

Later this year, Microsoft also plans to integrate this entire experience into Microsoft Copilot. You’ll be able to ask your AI assistant “What days should I go this week?” You’ll get a list of suggestions based on in-person meetings, when your coworkers plan to attend, and any special team days or events. “You’ll be able to ask Copilot to adjust your schedule based on this information — changing your work location to the office on the recommended days and rescheduling in-person meetings,” Spataro says.

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Microsoft Places will also have a search feature that makes it easier to book meeting rooms or shareable desks, and all of that will be accessible in Outlook as well. You’ll also get reminders in your calendar if you forget to reserve a room or desk during your days in the office. Later this year, this end-to-end booking experience will also be available in Copilot, so the AI ​​assistant will automatically search for and book meeting spaces.

Location data will be fed into Teams to help you better understand who is in the office.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft Places location data will also be fed into other Microsoft 365 apps. If you’re working in Teams, you’ll see colleagues marked as nearby if they’re also in the office, and you can type @nearby to notify people in the office about an impromptu conversation or just to arrange lunch.

Microsoft will also allow property and facilities management employees to access a space analytics feature in Microsoft Places later this year that shows how widely a building is being used and which days are the most popular among employees. IT administrators will also be able to better manage and adapt spaces or optimize shared meeting rooms and messaging rooms. The dashboard appears to focus on building and room analytics, rather than offering another way for managers to track individual employees.

Microsoft Places will eventually be part of Microsoft Teams Premium, which is currently being offered for an additional $7 per user per month thanks to promotional pricing. (Usually an additional $10.) Teams Premium also includes an AI-powered smart summarization feature, a watermark to deter leaks, and And many other additional features. You can subscribe to Microsoft Places Preview program here.

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