Microsoft released the popular Microsoft 365 service in 2011. Back then, it was simply a subscription service to Microsoft Office, but the platform has now matured into an excellent, modern productivity suite, and has most recently been rebranded to Microsoft 365 from Office 365. It is estimated that users of the platform now make up over half of the 81% of total organisations who have made the shift to cloud services.
The modern workforce has evolved from one that is attached to working in the office to one that is empowered when able to complete tasks from wherever. Teams are now dispersed across cities, countries and continents. Being able to work from anywhere is a key component of Microsoft 365, one that will dramatically improve your productivity in 2020. According to Microsoft research, if your business is no longer constrained by purely office-based work, productivity could increase by 30-40%.
“Work is something you do, not somewhere you go” – Laurie Coots
In an attempt to help you take advantage of some of the tools and apps within Microsoft 365, we have gone through five of our favourites which are guaranteed to make you more productive in 2020.
Ever wished your team had a central hub to meet, work, share and chat at any time, anywhere? Well, now they do! Teams is a cloud-based team collaboration platform provided by Microsoft, with features that combine meetings, notes, files and various Microsoft and non-Microsoft apps in real-time.
When it was introduced in March 2017, Teams was combined with 365 subscriptions for businesses. Since then it has grown substantially into a product of its own. It has not only improved the collaboration of employees but it has, in turn, helped with the productivity of teams by bringing people, conversation and content together into a singular, intelligent hub. It was revealed last year that the platform has now overtaken Slack with over 13 million active daily users and is Microsoft’s fastest-growing service EVER!
Microsoft Teams integrates seamlessly with existing Microsoft 365 applications and is built from the ground up, using the 365 global secure cloud. It works cross-platform so you can choose to work on your computer, tablet or phone. Therefore, it is with you wherever you go. One hugely beneficial feature is how users can collaborate and communicate in-real time. For example, if you have an important PowerPoint presentation that needs input from various members of your team who are located in different locations across the world, real-time editing will allow all members to watch edits being made and simultaneously make changes themselves or give feedback via the handy chat window. This is a real game-changer for teams who work remotely a lot.
Similar to Asana, Slack or Trello, Planner is a task management tool which integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams, Outlook and the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite. It provides a place for teams to create, organise and assign tasks to other users and check updates on progress, taking the chaos out of teamwork and helping you to get more done.
Planner can be launched with a single click from the Microsoft 365 app launcher, on any of your devices. Alternatively, it can be opened via the app which is available on both iOS and Android device app stores. You can also set it up to receive email notifications whenever you’re assigned a new task or added to a conversation, meaning you’ll never miss a beat.
Without Planner, teams often have to go through the time-consuming process of switching between a variety of third-party apps for their task management. Switching between these is not only tedious and a massive productivity killer but runs the risk of management losing visibility of the workflow of their teams. Using Planner enables your employees to build a plan, build the team to complete it, assign tasks and monitor the whole process, all under one pane of glass!
OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud service that connects users to all their files. You can store and protect your files, share them with others, and access them from anywhere on all your devices with the tool. Microsoft is always looking to find ways to improve the user experience of the platform and ways that businesses can protect and manage their data with ease.
Choosing to store your files in OneDrive rather than other cloud storage services such as Dropbox or Google Drive will improve productivity as it integrates seamlessly with Microsoft 365, allowing you to work faster and smarter. Organisations in all industries have chosen to adopt OneDrive in order to improve productivity and reduce costs.
According to research, teams are spending around 80-90% of their week in meetings, sending emails, and talking on the phone. However, did you know that 50% of this meeting time is perceived as unproductive? Furthermore, almost half of employees in the research reported that their work interferes with their family life.
MyAnalytics has been designed specially to help employees become more efficient by looking at two key factors in personal productivity; how users spend their time and who they spend it with. It works by suggesting ways you can work smarter. For example, by cutting unproductive meeting time and reducing the time spent working after hours. It even uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help you stay on top of your workflow by flagging the commitments you’ve made in Outlook. The four components of the tool are:
- Dashboard – The MyAnalytics dashboard will show you various statistics. For example, productivity insights about your work habits and helpful suggestions for improvement.
- Insights Outlook add-in – This will present you with cards that report on your recent work experience and let you respond in various ways.
- Digests – Weekly digests will arrive in your Outlook inbox to give you highlights of your previous week.
- Inline suggestions – These are notifications that appear Outlook that can help boost your productivity.
The tool has also been designed with privacy in mind. Therefore, only you can view personal data and insights.
Originally only available on the Education license of Microsoft 365, Forms has since been rolled out to commercial customers. The tool provides a simple and exciting way for you to create custom surveys, quizzes, questionnaires and polls, then only see the results as and when they arrive. These can be conveniently be shared with both internal employees and external customers. In the business environment, it has been used to collect customer feedback, to measure employee satisfaction and to organise company events.
Forms can be used on both desktop and mobile browsers, which ensures a broad audience can respond without having to download separate applications. Data collection no longer has to be a boring and long process. Microsoft Forms makes it simple, efficient and fun!
Microsoft 365 has a vast number of Microsoft and non-Microsoft tools, making it difficult to get your head around. By beginning to explore some of the key tools listed in our blog, you will open the possibilities of a more mobile, communitive and collaborative workplace.