Headspace Meditation Available in Viva Insights App for Teams

Steady Build-out of Viva Insights Since February

In February 2021, Microsoft shipped the first iteration of the Viva Insights app for Teams, featuring the same insights as surfaced in the MyAnalytics app. This was enough to support Microsoft’s general launch of the Viva employee engagement initiative, but there was always more to come than a rebranded and reskinned version of MyAnalytics.

In May 2021, Microsoft updated the app with wellbeing features like the Virtual Commute. In late July, Microsoft completed building out the app with a set of guided meditation and music from Headspace, a company which specializes in this space. The update appeared in message center MC257054 (May 19). If your default Teams language is English and you have an Exchange Online mailbox, you should now see a Decompress from work with a meditation section in the Viva Insights home page (Figure 1). That is, unless your account is blocked for the feature (see below).

he Viva Insights app for Teams now features meditation powered by Headspace
Figure 1: The Viva Insights app for Teams now features meditation powered by Headspace

Headspace’s Curated Set

Selecting the More mindfulness exercises link reveals a curated set of guided meditations and music selected by Headspace (Figure 2). In my tenant, I see six meditations and two 2-hour long music mixes. Guided meditation means that a speaker leads the listener through a technique designed to help them cope with specific situations. The meditations last between 3 and 10 minutes (the longest is to help end your day).

Headspace meditation and music available in the Viva Insights app for Teams
Figure 2: Headspace meditation and music available in the Viva Insights app for Teams

I’ve gone through all the exercises. My favorite was Listening to Others, a skill and talent I have been accused of being poor at in the past.

The brain behind Headspace is London-based Andy Puddicombe, who among other things was ordinated as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. It’s a good idea to look at his interesting TED presentation from 2021 featured on the page to get some insight into what Headspace is all about. Andy is the speaker for most of the guided meditations.

Controlling Access to Headspace

Access to Headspace in Viva Insights is controlled by a new Exchange Online PowerShell cmdlet called Set-VivaInsightsSettings (I assume the cmdlet will be used to control future features released for Insights). For example, to disable the Headspace feature for a user, the command works like this, specifying the user principal name for the target account:

Set-VivaInsightsSettings -Identity Tony.Redmond@office365itpros.com -Feature Headspace -Enabled $False

UserId                             IsInsightsHeadspaceEnabled
------                             --------------------------
Tony.Redmond@office365itpros.com                        False

From a tenant management perspective, the issue is that the cmdlet works on a user-by-user basis and there’s no way to disable features for every account in the tenant with a simple on-off switch. It’s easy to script turning off Headspace for a set of accounts using a few lines of PowerShell. In this example, we turn off the feature for every user mailbox:

[array]$Mailboxes = Get-ExoMailbox -RecipientTypeDetails UserMailbox -ResultSize Unlimited | Select -ExpandProperty UserPrincipalName
ForEach ($Mbx in $Mailboxes) {
    Write-Host ("Disabling the Headspace feature in Viva Insights for {0}" -f $Mbx)
    $Status = Set-VivaInsightsSettings -Identity $Mbx -Feature Headspace -Enabled $true -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
}
Write-Host ("All done. {0} mailboxes processed." -f $Mailboxes.count)

Meditation for the Masses

Reaction to the meditations will be highly individual and personal. Some will love them; others will consider this kind of stuff useless claptrap. The point is that some stressed individuals find meditation helpful. It doesn’t really matter if others think it pointless, so it’s good to see Viva Insights deliver something helpful.


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