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

Microsoft is trying to solve the difficulty of coordinating with colleagues about when everyone will be in the office. It’s a problem that has emerged with the rise of hybrid and flexible working following the recent covid-19 pandemic, with workers spending less time in the office. Microsoft Places is an AI-powered app that’s going into trial today and should help businesses that rely on Outlook and Microsoft Teams better coordinate time in the office.

“When employees get to the office, they don’t want to be greeted by a sea of ​​empty desks — they want to engage with their manager and the coworkers they interact with most,” says Microsoft’s corporate vice president of artificial intelligence at work. , Jared Spataro, in a blog post. “With Place, you can more easily coordinate work between colleagues and spaces in the office.”

Employees will be able to choose which days they will use the office.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft Places includes a dedicated location schedule section where you can set and share the days you’ll use the office and see which days your co-workers suggest going there. Managers can set priority days for schedules in the office, so if there’s an important event or team day, everyone knows about it. This location data is then transferred to your Outlook calendars, so you’ll know when events are happening in the office and when you’ve decided to go.

Later this year, Microsoft also plans to integrate this entire experience into Microsoft Copilot. You’ll be able to ask the AI ​​assistant “which days should I go this week?” and you’ll get a list of suggestions based on face-to-face meetings your coworkers have coming up and any 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 recommended days and rescheduling face-to-face meetings,” says Spataro.

Microsoft Places will also have a search engine feature to make it easier to book meeting rooms or shareable tables, all of which will also be available in Outlook. You’ll even get a reminder on your calendar if you forget to book a room or table on weekdays. Later this year, this end-to-end booking will also be available in Copilot, so the AI ​​assistant will automatically find and book meeting spaces for your meetings.

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

Location data from Microsoft Places will also be sent to 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 write @nearby to notify people who are in the office, for an impromptu conversation or just to arrange lunch.

Microsoft will also give property and facilities management staff access to the Microsoft Places space analytics feature later this year, which shows how widely a building is used and which days are most popular with employees. IT administrators will also be able to better manage and customize spaces or enhance meeting rooms and shared huddle rooms. The dashboard seems to focus on building and room analysis rather than offering managers another way to track individual employees.

Microsoft Places will eventually be part of Microsoft Teams Premium, which is currently offered for an additional $7 per user per month thanks to promotional pricing. (It’s usually $10 extra.) Teams Premium also includes a smart recap feature with artificial intelligence, watermarks that prevent leaks, and many other extra features. You can sign up for the Microsoft Places preview program here.