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New Features and Interesting News for Microsoft 365

It’s been a little while since we touched on what’s new and exciting within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem., In 2020, Microsoft leveraged the digital workplace explosion, propelled by Covid to go all-in on their enterprise offerings, with the company now rated number 5 in The 10 most innovative enterprise companies of 2021 by Fast Company.

Let’s take a look at some of the new features in Microsoft 365 that we think will help your business perform better via the use of new Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft Viva: The Employee Experience Platform

As more employees strive for better work/life balance and realise they can eschew the traditional workplace in favour of the gig economy or contracting opportunities, the onus is on employers to provide an attractive working environment.

One of the ways in which employers can attract talent and retain people across a lengthier timeframe is by providing a great employee experience. A great employee experience can be defined as rating highly across the following six aspects:

  • Wellbeing
  • Connection
  • Focus
  • Empowerment
  • Growth
  • Purpose

How can this be translated into digital products? Microsoft’s answer is their Employee Experience Platform (EXP), Viva

It’s a people-centric platform that leverages Microsoft Products like Teams and Sharepoint to share knowledge and conversations, provide personalised insights, and learn new skills. Viva is available within Teams and can be combined with Workplace Analytics for deeper employee understanding for managers. The platform uses AI for surfacing the right items on personalised feeds, and for search and answers within company knowledge bases.

To put it another way; it’s like your employees’ favourite social media, learning, and news apps all rolled into one – but for the workplace.

If you’re already using Microsoft 365 products in the workplace and you’re ready to take your employee experience to the next level digitally, then it’s time to put some thought into using Viva.

Greater security for Office apps with Application Guard

We’ve been talking a lot about security lately; our last blog was even the Top 5 Security Recommendations When Working Remotely. Over the course of the past year, many organisations have had to switch to remote-first work environments, fuelled by lockdowns and the need to still get work done. While this has been successful for the most part, there have been security hiccups along the way.

Microsoft is well aware of the security implications of remote work, which is why it has introduced Application Guard.

Application Guard is a service that allows Microsoft 365 users to open Office files from unknown locations in a virtualized environment using Hyper-V based containers. By using a virtualised environment, you can prevent any malicious code launched Office files from actually accessing system resources.

This separation of files from underlying systems means that people within your organisation can safely open Office files such as Word docs and Excel spreadsheets from outside of your internal networks. It’s just another way that Microsoft’s helping their business customers become more secure with easy on/off functionality. It’s switched to off by default, so read up and enable this smart security feature.

PowerPoint Live for meetings that better represent their real-world equivalent

Having online meetings that are not encumbered by technology, and are rather propelled by them, is a challenge we’ve all faced over the course of the past year or so. Microsoft Teams is helping drive innovation in the online meeting space, by bringing in our favourite real-world presenting product – PowerPoint.

PowerPoint Live is the seamless integration of Teams and PowerPoint, with features for better presenting over the internet. Rather than opening PowerPoint and sharing your screen, you can now open PowerPoint Live to access PowerPoint presentations all from within the Teams app.

For the presenter, it allows you to view your presentation and notes alongside your audience and chats. Other presenters are able to take control of the presentation from Teams if you have multiple people presenting. Presentations can come with audience interactions like the ability to click on hyperlinks as well as skip forwards or backwards in the content easily.

One of the best new features is the video overlay of the presenter in the bottom right of the presentation – similar to real life. Check it out.

New integrations with third-party productivity apps in Teams

Microsoft isn’t trying to make you go all-in on their suite of products. Instead, they offer up an API suite for developers to build integrations into their software. What this means is that some of the world’s leading workplace productivity apps now can be accessed directly from Teams, with varying capabilities accessible from the window.

Microsoft have expanded their list of integrations recently to include some of the apps you know and love and use for work:

Monday

Monday is one of the world’s leading task planning and tracking apps. With the new Teams integration, employees are able to plan, track, and follow tasks all without having to leave the Teams app to do so.

Asana

Another popular tasking app, Asana, comes to the party with their new Teams integration. Using the Asana app within Teams allows people to take notes and action items while having meetings, collaborate on Asana tasks more easily, and visualise projects without leaving Teams.

Teamflect

Ensure better employee engagement with Teamflect + Microsoft Teams. This app allows you to organise shared notes and tasks for one on one meetings, provide feedback and recognitions easily, and track engagement over the course of a meeting.

Increase workplace productivity with Microsoft 365

Don’t miss out on getting the most from your Microsoft 365 suite. There’s so much more to explore beyond a simple Office and Teams configuration. If you would like an assessment of which products, configurations, and integrations will work best for your business, then chat to us at A1 Technologies. We’ve helped customers to make the most of a tech-first setup with Microsoft 365 to revolutionise the workplace, removing barriers to doing collaborative work online and empowering employees with technology rather than confusing them.

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