Microsoft wants to stop you crumbling under the weight of remote working

remote working
(Image credit: Shutterstock / GaudiLab)

Microsoft will soon deploy a range of new features for employee engagement platform Viva designed to stave off the negative effects of remote working.

Unveiled during a virtual event on the future of work, the new Viva features include a series of guided meditations and mindful exercises, which users will be able to access via Microsoft Teams starting later this month. The meditation sessions are developed by mental wellness company Headspace and are supposed to help workers begin their day on the right foot.

Microsoft is also introducing two new modes to Viva - called focus and quiet time - to combat the flood of alerts and other distractions remote workers have to deal with. These are expected to go live later in the year.

With focus mode active, users will be treated to a soundtrack specially curated to assist with concentration and will be able to set up timers designed to enforce regular breaks in between important tasks.

Quiet time, meanwhile, will disable all Microsoft Teams and Outlook alerts, which should prevent professional matters following workers into their free time - especially given the number of people currently using the same devices for work and play.

This mode can also be configured by IT administrators to create organization-wide notification policies.

Microsoft Viva

Microsoft Viva focus mode (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Viva update

Microsoft Viva first saw the light of day in February, pitched as a way to support employee wellbeing and combat issues such as loneliness and burnout.

Integrated into Teams, Viva is described as a “gateway to the digital workplace”. It functions rather like an intranet, gathering various business resources into a centralized hub, from which employees can also connect with one another.

According to the findings of a recent Microsoft survey, more than half of employees currently feel overworked, while a third classified themselves as outright exhausted. The new Viva features, the company hopes, will go some way to helping employees restructure their day to avoid these kinds of issues.

Microsoft Viva

Microsoft Viva meditation (Image credit: Microsoft)

“Weekly meeting time for Teams users has more than doubled since the onset of the pandemic. Back-to-back meetings increase stress and make it harder to stay engaged and focused,” said Microsoft.

“The research uncovered something crucial: employees want flexible remote work options to stay, but the digital overload associated with more remote work is challenging their wellbeing.”

Although meditation isn’t for everyone and alert overload is just one of a range of challenges, Microsoft has at least taken small steps to engaging with a problem that almost all businesses will need to find an answer to in the months and years to come.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.