It’s fair to say 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, especially for businesses that have had to adapt quickly to new ways of working in order to survive.

Digital transformation has been accelerated through necessity, with organisations transitioning to remote/hybrid working and entire workforces currently working from home due to health & safety concerns relating to Covid-19.

Whilst intended as a temporary measure due to the pandemic, there are a lot of businesses warming to the idea of a fluid working experience, where employees share their time between the office and home.

For this reason, Microsoft has focussed its efforts on helping customers adjust and thrive, delivering a range of Microsoft 365 improvements that will enhance collaboration, communication and employee engagement, making flexible working a viable long-term solution.

In this blog, we have analysed some of the most important recent updates to see what impact they have had on our clients and the wider userbase.

Enhancing collaboration

Since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams usership figures have grown significantly, with entire organisations relying on the service to communicate and collaborate.

Described as the hub of teamwork, Teams utilises a range of Microsoft’s services, including SharePoint, OneDrive and Microsoft Lists to bring people together, allowing employees to complete tasks, whilst being in close contact with colleagues.

In a bid to enhance the Teams experience, Microsoft recently made a range of key announcements, with some features already being rolled out. One such update sees SharePoint and Teams integrate to deliver the new home site app for Teams, bringing the key benefits of your intelligent intranet into Teams.

Providing users with a gateway into their organisation, the app allows employees to find sites, portals, teams and communities, improving collaboration for workers at all levels of the business.

Meanwhile, new Microsoft Teams templates have been added to the service, allowing businesses to create teams quickly by choosing from a range of common scenarios. Each template comes with predefined channels, apps and guidance, streamlining the entire process for organisations that need to get started immediately.

Communicate with employees

With employees now working in different locations, it’s vital that businesses implement systems that allow them to communicate with workers throughout the organisation, so they can access and engage with important company content.

Understanding this, Microsoft recently revealed a range of new capabilities designed to enhance employee engagement, so that workers can remain connected and receive important updates/announcements.

One of the most highly anticipated updates is news boost in SharePoint, which allows organisations to prioritise important news and announcements, so they appear at the top of feeds and locations in Microsoft 365. You can boost the visibility of certain news for a set period, ensuring an employee has viewed the content at least once before it expires.

For organisations that use Yammer to engage with employees, you can now feature a conversation, which showcases it in the community feed and improves its visibility in the home feed, so more people see it.

With so much content to digest, it can sometimes be overwhelming for employees, especially when balancing daily client work too. Therefore, to keep employees up to date with workplace communications, Microsoft has revealed the automatically generated news digest, which sends an AI-curated email summary of important topics to everyone in the business.

Long-term solution

With the effects of the pandemic likely to be felt well into the new year, it’s crucial that businesses start implementing the necessary systems to facilitate remote/hybrid working.

Although many organisations already utilise services like Teams, there are various other apps and programmes that should be used to enhance operational efficiency during a period of uncertainty.

Microsoft are aware of the growing customer demands and are actively taking steps to ensure businesses have the tools needed to weather the storm and continue operating as smoothly as possible.

The routine update cycles demonstrate Microsoft’s intentions, as they continue to address customer feedback, enhancing the user experience with the addition of new and exciting features.

If your business is yet to unlock the true power of Microsoft 365 and its related services, then contact our in-house team and find a solution that meets your unique requirements.