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Microsoft Teams Together Mode: Your Questions Answered

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Microsoft Teams together mode
Dominic Kent

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Microsoft Teams Together Mode: Your Questions Answered

Microsoft Teams together mode

Microsoft Teams Together mode arrived in August 2020 and has been a hot topic ever since.

Ideal for the work anywhere environment, Together mode connects people like never before. Many services like Zoom, Slack, and Cisco Webex Teams offer group video conferencing. But Microsoft Teams Together mode makes video meetings more immersive. 

As a virtual filter for online meetings, Together mode makes employees feel like they’re in the same room. 

What is Microsoft Teams Together mode?

In early 2020, Microsoft introduced various new features for better remote meetings. 

New capabilities include virtual backgrounds, more meeting controls, and Bookings. 

Together mode is a virtual filter that connects meeting attendees in one space. Together mode embeds visuals from separate cameras into a shared environment. This is an alternative to the grid layout that places camera feeds side-by-side. 

Microsoft Teams Together Mode

Microsoft Teams uses AI mapping to cut out your face and shoulders, then creates an avatar for you. 

This avatar slots into a virtual environment alongside your coworkers. You can choose spaces like auditoriums or offices. The shared landscape reduces background distractions. 

Together mode also allows users to interact with coworkers. Team members can share high fives and tap people on the shoulder. It’s a new style of video meeting. 

How do you activate Teams Together mode?


Update Microsoft Teams to the latest version to ensure you have access to all features. You can also download the latest build from Microsoft. 

Log into your Microsoft Teams profile, and click on your user icon, then Settings. 

Navigate to settings

Under the General tab, enable the toggle for New Meeting Experience. If this option isn’t available yet, check with your Microsoft admin. You may need to update your Microsoft Teams version or you may still be on the waiting list.

Now, place a call, create or join a meeting in Microsoft Teams. 

Once the meeting starts, click the three dot Options menu to scroll down to Together mode.

Microsoft Teams Together mode

Click on the option to activate it. 

Microsoft Teams will map the faces in each camera feed and create avatars. 

Microsoft Teams Together mode

Remember:

  • You need at least 5 participants to activate Together mode. 
  • Only 49 users are supported
  • You must be a host to activate Together mode.

When will Together mode be available?

Microsoft is rolling Together mode out on a tenant by tenant basis.

Some users already have access to this new feature. By the end of August, Microsoft says all users should be able to use Together mode. 

The rest of the new features coming to Microsoft Teams will follow later in the year. 

How to get the most from Together mode

Microsoft Teams Together mode makes meetings feel more intimate and interactive.

The virtual background feature brings a unique feel to business conversations. Microsoft believes Together mode will help people to feel more relaxed and social. 

Together mode could also reduce the fatigue people feel with regular remote meetings.  

Here are some top tips for using Together mode. 

Ask everyone to turn their cameras on

Now, we’re not saying you must use video for every meeting. But, Together mode works best when everyone has their camera on. 

Microsoft does support voice users in meetings. But the social experience is better when everyone has a visual presence. 

Microsoft research suggests that users feel better using a camera in Together mode. For shy employees, consider starting with short informal meetings. 

Provide guidance

There are best practices for every component of Microsoft Teams. Together mode is no exception.

Making sure your employees know how to use these tools is crucial. Start by checking that team members know what Together mode is, and how it works. 

A refresher course on how to use the video conferencing elements of Teams might be helpful. Ask your colleagues if they know how to mute, use the hand-raising feature, and share files. 

Do you have any policies on meeting etiquette? If so, share these with team members in advance. Let them know when they’re expected to arrive for a meeting, and if they need information at hand. 

One expert piece of advice that is easily missed when reviewing Microsoft’s marketing materials is that nobody seems to be wearing a headset. Unless you’ve got a bespoke sound setup at home, you’ll still need to put your headset on, as Paul Lange, Senior Consultant at Computacenter points out below.

Noel Kennedy, Head of Sales at Involve Visual Collaboration, said that his meetings in Together mode have been with giant and tiny images of people due to their being no set photography guidelines.

Rather than enforcing strict guidelines for Together mode, his team have embraced the fun aspect but also provided some help for those wanting to not look out of place.

Here’s a before and after of them using Microsoft Teams Together mode.

Microsoft Teams Together mode

Noel says “Once I told them I was taking a screenshot and they could move a little more in size order, this is about as best as we could get it without moving hardware too. There’s a definite learning curve for people who want to use it neatly.”

The "after image" after sending out some guidelines

For users who do need help, we’ve put together this handy guide for using Microsoft Teams effectively.

Stay organized

A friendly shared space helps employees open up and share ideas. Remember though, it’s important not to let your meetings get off-track. 

Go into every conversation with an agenda. Decide what you need to discuss in advance, and let people know what to expect. Determine how long each meeting will take, and stick to that schedule. 

Have a list of topics that you need to check off with you. If people have questions, it might be worth asking them to leave this to the end. Or you may find it more productive to cover as the meeting progresses. Find what works for you and stick to it.

Get the hardware right

Users don’t need 4K video webcams to enjoy Together mode, but a good camera is handy. 

Ask attendees to use the best camera they can. Often, the built-in laptop camera just isn’t good enough. If you’re supplying webcams for your remote users, the Logitech C920 HD Webcam is very affordable.

Turning lights on in the room and adjusting the brightness or contrast may help too. 

Other tips to keep in mind include:

  • Keep the camera centered.
  • Look at the webcam when talking to other meeting participants. This makes them feel like you’re talking to them.
  • Use a screen at least as big as a tablet. If using a smartphone, prop it up to head height. 
  • Keep your Teams meeting window in front of you. This will make your gestures look more natural. 
  • Avoid leaving the meeting. If you leave and rejoin, you’ll end up in a different seat. 
  • Together mode works best in full-screen for a laptop or computer. 

Experiment first

Together mode is a novel and fun meeting feature. Your employees and colleagues are going to want to play around for a while before they get serious.  

Before you dive into a serious meeting, set up a session where people can explore the function. 

Give your people a few minutes to discover what Together mode is like. Follow the same rule with external contacts who haven’t used Together mode before. 

Giving people 5 minutes to play at the beginning of a meeting will limit distractions. 

What about chatting with external contacts?

Microsoft Together mode is an excellent tool for strengthening in-house teams. Unfortunately, there are limits to what you can do. 

Microsoft’s Together mode only works for the people in your Microsoft Teams group. External contacts can’t join a Together mode meeting. 

If you want to reach people who aren’t a part of your Microsoft Teams workforce, you can try guest access. However, this does mean asking someone to create a new account for communication. 

The only way to keep all employees on the tools they like most is with a third-party solution. Mio Universal Channels could be the answer.

Universal Channels is a similar experience to Slack shared channels. Like Slack shared channels, you can connect people in different Microsoft Teams groups. Universal Channels also works for cross-platform federation

Chat with Microsoft Teams and Slack users without leaving Cisco Webex Teams

Universal Channels connects people on Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams. You can also link conversations on Microsoft Teams and Slack.

There’s no shared virtual space, like with Microsoft Together mode. You get to stay in your preferred app at all times.

Universal Channels create a more productive environment for messaging external contacts and users on other platforms.

When people can use the apps they feel most familiar with, conversations flow. Mio Universal Channels bridges an important gap between teams and individuals. 

You can install your first three universal channels for free here.

Click to install

When to use Microsoft Teams Together mode

Microsoft Teams Together mode first helped people to feel connected during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. But, Together mode can also offer plenty of benefits in other circumstances. 

Like bots and add-ons for Microsoft Teams, Together mode enhances team collaboration. The tool works best when you use it for the right tasks and conversations. 

Use together mode when:

  • Lots of people are speaking in a meeting. Together mode is great for mimicking natural conversations in a virtual environment. 
  • You have lots of video meetings. People experience meeting fatigue when joining one conference after another. Together mode makes everything less exhausting.
  • Groups have problems staying focused. In group education or business settings, attendees might struggle to be attentive. Together mode preserves focus. 
  • You need to read the room. If you rely on audience feedback to progress in a meeting, Together mode is perfect. 
  • Human connection is crucial. If your teams are feeling isolated, Together mode will help. It makes group conversations feel more natural. 

When not to use Microsoft Teams Together mode

Together mode won’t be ideal for all situations. 

If you’re planning on sharing physical content in your meeting, avoid Together mode. The technology removes your background, so it’s hard to reference anything. 

Together mode is also better for teams comfortable with video conferencing. All team members should have a video feed. This will create a deeper feeling of human connection. 

Other reasons you may choose not to use Together mode include:

  • You want to share your screen. The current version of Together mode isn’t compatible with presentations. 
  • You’re moving a lot. If you’re joining a conversation when walking outside, avoid Together mode. The technology struggles with constant motion.
  • You have a big meeting planned. As of August 2020, Together mode can only support up to 49 participants. 
  • One-to-one meetings like weekly reviews. Together mode seems a bit overkill here.
  • When collaborating with contacts who use platforms other than Teams. If your contact uses Webex or Slack, we’ve documented all the ways you can stay connected without leaving Teams in these posts:

Minimum system requirements for using Microsoft Teams Together mode

Let’s make sure you have the right hardware for Microsoft Teams Together mode. 

Microsoft Teams Together mode for Windows users:

  • CPU: 1.6 GHz (Minimum)
  • Free space: 3GB (Minimum)
  • RAM: 4GB (Minimum)
  • Graphics memory: 512MB (Minimum)
  • Display: 1024 x 768 (Minimum)
  • OS: Windows 8.1 or later
  • Peripherals: Speakers, camera, and microphone

Microsoft Teams Together mode for Mac users:

  • CPU: Intel dual-core processor (Minimum)
  • Free space: 2GB (Minimum)
  • RAM: 4GB (Minimum)
  • Graphics memory: 512MB (Minimum)
  • Display: 1200 x 800 (Minimum)
  • OS: OS X 10.11 or later
  • Peripherals: Speakers, camera, and microphone

Microsoft Teams Together mode for Linux users:

  • CPU: 1.6 GHz (Minimum)
  • Free space: 3GB (Minimum)
  • RAM: 4GB (Minimum)
  • Graphics memory 512MB (Minimum)
  • Display: 1024 x 768 (Minimum)
  • OS: Linux Distro with RPM or DEB installs
  • Peripherals: Speakers, camera, and microphone

FAQs for Microsoft Teams meetings and Together mode

Still have questions about Microsoft Teams Together mode? Here’s a round up of the most frequently asked questions we’ve found so far.

How do I follow up with users who attended a Teams meeting but don’t use Teams?

This is a tricky one. If an external contact doesn’t use Microsoft Teams, they won’t use a guest account either. To follow up on a meeting, you may need to resort to email. You could also phone the person if you have their number. 

If you want to keep the conversation flowing (and not resort to unproductive and archaic methods), Universal Channels is the best option. 

With Mio Universal Channels, you can set up a discussion between different apps and teams. Your universal channel lets you stay in Microsoft Teams when your contact is in Slack. Universal Channels creates external federation between your Microsoft Teams channel and other tools. 

How many people can participate in Microsoft Teams meetings?

Microsoft recently expanded the number of people visible in a meeting. You can have up to 49 people in a Together mode space at the same time too. 

In a private meeting, users can reach up to 250 people. All those people won’t be able to show their camera feed at once. Microsoft Teams uses a dynamic algorithm to decide which cameras should be on-screen. 

How can you see all participants in Microsoft Teams?

Currently, there isn’t a way to see all 250 participants in a meeting at once.

Microsoft recently introduced a grid view for up to 9 people at the same time. With Together mode, this number increases to 49. There are ways to choose what you see in a meeting too. You can right-click on a participant’s video to pin it to the screen. 

Users can click on a video to move their focus to different people in a conference. You can also expand a video to fit the meeting frame. Usually, Microsoft will auto move focus to whoever’s speaking. 

Can I see who attended a Teams meeting?

If you’re not sure who came to a large meeting, go to the Teams admin center. You’ll need to log in as an admin to view information. 

Go to the Users tab and click on the organizer for the meeting you want to know more about. 

Click on Call history to see the number of attendees. 

Clicking on the start time link shows you the details of the attendees. For instance, you can see who was sharing their desktop or video. Microsoft also shows you how long each participant spent in the meeting. 

How many backgrounds will come with Together mode?

Microsoft branched out with various virtual backgrounds for video meetings. Unfortunately, there’s a limit on the environments available for Together mode. 

The auditorium view is the only background that launched with Together mode. This background makes it seem like all participants are sitting in an auditorium. 

Microsoft is planning to release more backgrounds. Upcoming settings will allow companies to create a specific setting for a meeting. 

New backgrounds will help to set the tone for future conversations. You might have an informal Together mode background for a watercooler chat. Or you may use an event-style setting for an announcement. 

Does Microsoft Teams have a gallery view?

If you want to conduct a group meeting but don’t like Together mode, there is a gallery view. You can view up to 49 participants in the gallery view. This option won’t place users in the same virtual environment. 

Can Microsoft Teams do breakout rooms?

Dynamic view will bring breakout rooms to Microsoft Teams. These rooms will allow for more focused brainstorming sessions. 

If you can’t find the meeting service you need in Microsoft Teams, you can choose from any of these Microsoft Teams integrations

What is dynamic view?

Dynamic view helps participants share content on-screen alongside their video stream. Together mode doesn’t offer the option to share content at the moment. 

Why can I only see one person on Microsoft Teams?

If you’re only seeing one person in a group meeting, resize your window. 

Your Microsoft Teams window may be too small to show many participants. 

You can also pin a video to your screen to focus on the right person. 

To reframe a video, right-click on the stream. Click fill frame for a cropped close view. Click Fit to frame to see the entire video. 

If you have a question about Microsoft Teams Together mode, or anything relating to Microsoft Teams, leave us a comment below or follow us on Twitter!

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