Microsoft 365 Supporting the Hybrid Workplace
As physical workplaces reopen, it is essential to ensure employee location does not represent a real or perceived barrier to collaboration. Organisations must find new ways to maximise innovation and inclusivity for all, whilst acknowledging the reality of our new flexible world of work.
Many of the digital workplace wins of the acute pandemic phase were inspired and driven by the technology tools that staff had been using for years in their social and personal lives. This next phase, one dominated by hybrid/flexible work, will require more powerful user experiences and a more robust infrastructure to help businesses succeed in light of new workplace fluidity. To help level the playing field, Microsoft has rolled out a set of new features within MS Teams and Microsoft 365, ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table whether they're working remotely or in the office.
Asynchronous Communication Enhancements
The flexible working model requires a new approach to communications, as more and more teams find themselves embracing an asynchronous communication style. Proven to enable employees to achieve deep work, improve the quality of communications and reduce workplace stress, asynchronous communication occurs when communication happens “out of sync” or in other words, not in real-time. This mode is facilitated by persistent communication channels in which users collaborate actively to their own schedules; examples include chat and file collaboration, enabling employees to remain in the loop wherever or whenever they work.
The Fluid Components feature has been added to Teams chat allowing messages to be co-authored and edited in-line in real-time. People can easily co-create content with their working group, send a bulleted list, create a table, or share a task list. All Team members can revise and add updated content right there in the chat timeline. A coloured marker containing a participant’s initials shows that user working on the content in real-time as they type. Other groups can be included in the updates by copying the content to other chats with all edits remaining in sync across different Teams, providing transparency and alignment with a much less manual process. Pinning in chats is a new feature driving context awareness and provides chat members with immediate access to critical content helping the team stay in sync on the key topics and basics while staying in the context of the conversation.
Enhanced Meetings Features
Looking beyond asynchronous communications, hybrid solutions must also seek to maximise the transmission of verbal, auditory and facial cues when it comes to real-time /synchronous communications to enhance team dynamics and strengthen productivity. To account for this Microsoft Teams Rooms and the Teams meeting experience has been enhanced for synchronous communications.
The agenda is always visible within the meeting experience so that everyone stays on track. Alongside the agenda, everyone in the meeting can collaborate on notes and assigned tasks ensuring participants have a clear view of what was covered and how to proceed forward.
The new meeting layout in Teams Rooms makes interactions feel more natural and gives people in the room a greater sense of connection to remote participants. To help everyone stay more engaged, meeting content is centred on the screen, surrounded by contextual meeting information like the agenda tasks and notes which because they're Fluid components that can be updated in real-time. Teams Rooms implementations with two displays will maximise screen real estate and split the video gallery across multiple displays when content isn't being shared. With more screen space, the video of remote participants will be larger and can bring more attention to people who aren't in the room.
Visual Meetings Tools
Finally in hybrid meetings, visual collaboration often used for brainstorming and problem-solving can prove a challenge. The new Whiteboard experience in Teams is a virtual-first keyboard friendly experience letting all participants brainstorm and visually collaborate on the same digital canvas from anywhere. Integration with Fluid Components lets participants include tables or bring existing content into a whiteboard to co-author. After ideation and when content is ready to share, PowerPoint Live on Teams lets presenters deliver the most impactful presentations from wherever they are. Presenters can annotate slides as they present, and the laser pointer feature makes it even easier to visually call attention to key points.
Flexible hybrid working represents the biggest shift to how we work in our generation, providing an opportunity to create a new model of work that can be better for everyone. Storm Technology’s Modern Workplace team has the skills and knowledge to help your organisation adapt to the new paradigm.