This week on the Geek Blog, we’ll have a look at a new feature coming to Teams, and how Teams can work with Windows’ built-in features to help you focus.
Unless you’re exceptionally fortunate, it’s likely that you’ve experienced difficulty in concentrating or focusing on tasks at some point, due to external distractions or issues. In fact, a 2018 Udemy survey found that almost 3 in 4 workers (70%) admitted they often feel distracted while working. 16 percent said that they feel distracted most of the time – which can seriously impact productivity and performance. That figure has likely increased during the pandemic, where many people were required to work remotely.
Luckily, there is a feature in Windows that can help you to stay focused by keeping distractions to a minimum – Focus Assist mode. Previously known as Quiet Hours, Focus Assist mode was enhanced and adjusted to provide better control and more options, bringing it into line with many Do not Disturb functions on mobile devices. Since Teams offers the option to use the built-in Windows 10 notification system, its notifications can also be configured within Focus Assist mode.
Focus Assist mode allows you to configure which notifications you wish to receive: get only priority notifications and silence all others, or set it up so that alarms are the only notifications you receive; exclude apps that could potentially carry critical notifications, or adjust the settings to whatever is your preference. You can schedule this feature, or turn it on or off as necessary.
It’s not only useful within a work-related environment but for other purposes too, such as if you’re playing games or watching a movie.
One of the upcoming additions to Teams could also be potentially very useful for helping to reduce distractions, although it’s something that you might not expect – the ability to hide your own video feed.
The psychology of this really boils down to the fact that we are not used to seeing ourselves – seeing yourself in a video feed in a meeting can cause you to worry or overanalyse how you look or react, and thus distract you; a little like working in a room with a giant mirror – it’s unusual enough for us that it can often have a detrimental psychological effect. Instead, if you’re someone affected by this phenomenon, once you’re sure that you are visible in the video frame, Teams will give you the option of hiding your own video feed – potentially reducing distractions and helping you to concentrate on the task at hand.
Conversely, there are situations where it can be important to keep track of your own video feed, especially when the participants in a conversation are changing frequently (such as people joining or leaving). To this end, Microsoft will also be implementing the ability to pin your own video feed, meaning it appears on the stage enlarged, allowing you to see in detail what your colleagues are seeing, which could potentially be very useful if you are presenting or moving around in the video frame.