“Front row is a new layout that enables better hybrid meetings,” explained Microsoft. “It brings remote participants to eye level with participants in [conference] rooms and adds additional data like chat to give in-room users better context of what’s happening in the meeting.”
The new layout is still under development, but should be available to all Teams users via the layout picker by the end of January.
Microsoft Teams calls
Until now, the emphasis has been on creating new layouts that help remote workers present more effectively. In June, for example, Microsoft launched two new layouts for Teams, called Reporter and Side-by-Side. The former positions content above the presenter’s shoulder, as if they were a news anchor, and the latter displays content next to the presenter’s video feed.
On the side, there has also been a race to see who can support the largest number of video call participants on-screen at once. Currently, Teams and Zoom lead the way with massive 49-person gallery layouts.
Now, however, Microsoft appears to have turned its attention to augmenting its collaboration platform for hybrid working, whereby employees split their time between the home, office and any other location.
A major priority among businesses is to ensure meetings remain equitable when half the participants are in the room and the other half are dialling in remotely. According to Microsoft, a small change like the new Front row layout can help create “a more inclusive environment” and head off some of these potential issues.