Microsoft 365 tools that enhance remote and home working
Anyone who thought working from home was all about lie-ins, lounging around in pyjamas and leisurely lunches has probably experienced a rude awakening since being forced to turn the kitchen table into an office. With the boundaries blurred between home and work, adjusting to this new arrangement – from online meetings via video call to the increased threat of cybercrime – takes time, patience, support and access to innovative technology.
Your employees need more than just a laptop/PC and a fast-broadband connection to work from home effectively. To collaborate securely from remote environments, they require access to the right tools. TDM Group recommends Microsoft 365 (previously called Office 365) – a suite of intuitive services that will enhance their working experience. However, these tools alone are not enough; businesses should engage with the right business-focused technical skillset to unlock their potential.
The Microsoft 365 suite: products, apps and services
This popular platform enables collaborative remote working and information sharing via a common online space – and is fully integrated with other useful Microsoft 365 services like Skype, SharePoint and Yammer. Convenient features include:
- Chat: whether it’s a group chat or a one-on-one natter, your employees won’t have any problem getting their message across quickly and clearly.
- Teams and channels: according to Microsoft “teams are groups of people brought together for work, projects, or common interests.” They comprise two types of channels: standard (available to everyone in your business) and private (private conversations for a specific audience). It’s within these channels that you conduct meetings, have conversations and work on files as a team.
- Meetings: forget booking a meeting room only to find out someone more senior has pulled rank and stolen your slot. With the help of Teams, assembling people for a formal – or informal – discussion has never been easier thanks to intuitive audio, video and screen sharing functions.
- Live Events: mass gatherings are back on the agenda courtesy of Teams, which allows you to broadcast online events to up to 10,000 attendees – publicly and internally. By enabling this function for clients during the Covid-19 crisis, TDM Group has facilitated the delivery of some much-needed clarity during uncertain times. These organisations are utilising Live Events to communicate important company-wide announcements, which can also be accessed retrospectively by those who are unavailable to attend live, thanks to the optional recording function.
- Phone system: your employees can use Teams to place and receive calls using mobile devices, a headset with a PC or an IP phone. This cloud-based system has been rapidly deployed by TDM Group to partners during the lockdown period, delivering vital crisis resilience to those that need it. Once in place, it eradicates common technical issues like VPN dropouts or latency to the company PABX system.
- Documents: forget searching for email attachments to open the latest version of an important document; users can access, share and edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel files in real-time from this central hub. TDM Group can implement multifactor authentication to deliver a secure method of remote working, without having to rely on VPN software and mapped file shares. TDM Group has created a naming standard template that can be adapted to a client’s unique requirements.
This facilitates remote collaboration in several ways:
- Discovery – consistent naming helps users to find the correct team, understand its purpose, access documents and avoid duplication.
- Privacy – communicating the privacy status of a team helps users to understand the type of data that can be stored within it, and the group’s accessibility to guests.
- Structure – clarifying business units or divisions in a team name helps administrators to identify ownership. For example, adding ‘PRJ’ in front of a team site name that holds information for a project can make it easy to identify and archive once the project is completed.
Demand for cloud-based tools that facilitate seamless homeworking practices saw Teams usage surge from 32 million active daily users to 75 million – and growing – in the wake of the lockdown announcement. This rapid adoption has required
Microsoft to expedite improvements that enhance the user experience and ensure the platform can keep pace with demand.
Recent additions to its armoury include the ability to show multiple participants on video calls and provide multiple separate chat windows for conversations – vital remote collaboration tools that TDM Group has helped clients to harness.
If you’re contemplating rolling out Teams to support remote and home working, TDM Group recommends creating several team sites and channels for a select group of early adopters. This initial small-scale implementation will help your business to learn by doing and gain valuable insights into successfully deploying Teams across your organisation.
Often referred to as the “Facebook of the corporate world”, this enterprise social networking tool delivers three key benefits that can make a big difference to your employee’s homeworking experience:
- Build an online community at scale across your organisation.
- Share and leverage knowledge that’s inherent in your employees.
- Engage decision-makers and employees at scale.
TDM Group can help clients to optimise their intranet functionality by incorporating the Yammer feed on their homepage, where it can be easily accessed by employees from anywhere.
This convenient digital notebook allows your employees to capture pretty much everything in one easy to access place – making the post-it note a thing of the past.
With OneNote, your employees can:
- Type notes or record audio on a PC or mobile device.
- Sketch or write ideas on a tablet.
- Add pictures from a mobile phone.
- Find notes instantly.
- Freely move notes around the page.
- Organise pages into sections.
- Keep sections in one or more notebooks.
- Switch devices and pick up where they left off.
- Share notebooks with others so everyone can view and contribute at the same time.
It’s not just pieces of paper and filing cabinets that are outdated when it comes to document storage and access; a folder on a server somewhere is starting to look a little old-fashioned now, thanks to SharePoint. This intuitive document management and collaboration tool is used by businesses of all sizes to securely store, organise, share and access information from any device.
TDM Group created their intranet site using SharePoint, and uses SharePoint as the primary team site collaboration tool. It provides a platform to manage process and policy documents on, and a knowledge base (KB) site for the teams. TDM Group has successfully worked with many partners to rapidly implement intranet and team sites using SharePoint.
OneDrive is a cloud storage service from Microsoft that allows you to store all your important files securely in one place automatically and access them virtually anywhere from any device.
The benefits for your employees are compelling:
- Access updated files anywhere via a mobile device, tablet or PC.
- Access selected files without being online.
- If a device suffers a fault, their files and photos won’t be lost.
- Access all their OneDrive files in Windows 10 without taking up space on their PC.
- Scan and store documents and notes in the cloud using a mobile device.
- Store files and photos with an added layer of protection in the OneDrive Personal Vault.
- Sync documents that are saved in SharePoint in order to work offline.
- Move important documents to SharePoint.
- Enables document sharing with external organisations- not recommended long-term as it might have security implications.
With professional communication forced online by homeworking, and our screen time at mind-numbing levels, the need to deliver and access engaging video content has never been so vital. Stream allows your employees to securely upload, view and share videos that bring their collaboration to life.
From the delivery of training videos and presentations to the communication of company-wide announcements, TDM Group has enabled organisations to deliver vital information to employees and clients during lockdown. This video-sharing service can also be used in tandem with Live Events to upload content that users can access securely on any device, from anywhere, at any time.
What do you get if you combine elements of social networking and machine learning with the search capability of the Office 365 suite? A comprehensive data visualisation and discovery tool called Delve is the answer. This cloud-based service enables users to discover relevant information across integrated Microsoft products by mining content from Microsoft Exchange, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint and Yammer.