2020 Adapt, Evolve, Grow – Conquer Remote collaboration with Microsoft 365
365 brings the familiar office apps together in various subscription packages, adds cloud connectivity and throws into the mix a huge range of tools and features designed to enable remote collaboration. Cloud storage via OneDrive and SharePoint means the files your team need can be accessed from anywhere, and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security suite give you detailed administrative control over your data despite staff working from various locations from a range of devices.
We’ve already had a look at some of the tools available to keep corporate data secure while your teamwork away from the office, now let’s examine some of the 365 platforms designed to encourage effective, productive and empowered remote working.
Microsoft teams – Remote teamwork made simple
Microsoft Teams keeps collaboration on track with its intuitive design and useful structures which allow you to coherently organise project work. As one of Microsoft’s Flagship Platforms, much effort has gone into making teams a comprehensive communication solution, with multiple communication tools and productivity platforms configurable through the Teams interface.
- Audio/Video conferencing. Popular with organisations of all sizes, Teams permits virtual meeting with up to 300 participants and Teams’ ‘live events’ give you the ability to broadcast to an astonishing 10,000 attendees. With the recently released ‘new meetings’ update and the imminent introduction of third-party apps into the experience, Teams’ conferencing offering is in constant evolution with innovating new features arriving regularly.
- ‘Teams’ and ‘Channels’ to keep project work organised. Teams provide structure to project work. Assemble a ‘Team’ (a group of employees with a common work goal) and then divide this team in to ‘channels’ (subdivisions where more focussed discussion can be held).
- Instant messaging. The cornerstone of any good workplace communication platform; instant messaging lets you expedite lengthy chats and reduce reliance on email. Teams’ feature-rich instant messaging interface is optimised for productivity, with the ability to share files instantly, schedule meetings and customise a chat channel with a huge range of third-party workplace productivity apps. You can also filter emails into a Teams chat allowing you to keep all communication on a particular topic in one place.
Plan workflows and keep on top of tasks with Planner, To-Do and Project
365 features a number of tools that make planning work and setting tasks easy, namely “Planner,” “Project” and “To Do.”
Microsoft’ entry-level task management platform, To-Do is accessible through Microsoft 365 subscriptions or as a free-to-use, standalone application available to Mac, Windows, IOS and android users. To-Do lets you set up and assign tasks, with the ability to attach information such as a due date, a description and any files relevant to the job. Integration with Outlook lets you flag important emails and turn them into tasks, and you can keep track of tasks in through your ‘To Do’ calendar in outlook.
Planner is Microsoft’s mid-range task management tool that comes included with a number of 365 subscriptions.
Planner takes the basic formula of ‘To Do’ and builds upon it, resulting in a more sophisticated platform that offers a greater level of functionality and insight.
The platform incorporates a number of ‘view modes’ that let you review task-related information and statistics, so you’ll be able to plan work with greater insight and focus attention on the most pressing matters.
Planner has been developed with collaboration in mind. ‘Plans’ allow assembling a task-force centred around a particular body of work, similar to a ‘group’ in teams. The platform can be launched as an app within Teams, allowing you to keep tasks and project discussion in one place. Integration with outlook lets you view Plans from within the Outlook calendar tool, and SharePoint integration makes accessing the relevant files a dawdle.
Microsoft Project is a standalone product, designed for more demanding project management requirements; ideal where complex dependencies have to be configured or where detailed reporting capabilities are required.
In addition to these platforms, 365 incorporates a wealth of additional tools that help structure task management and automate-away time-consuming manual processes, such as SharePoint Lists (soon to become a standalone app) and tools within Microsoft’s ‘Power Platform’ such as ‘Power Automate.’
Microsoft 365 is offered in through a variety of subscription plans, meaning you’re sure to find one to suit the demands and scale of your organisation. ‘Business’ plans designed for SMEs, are a popular option, incorporating all of the tools we’ve discussed and a few more. ‘Enterprise’ plans designed for larger business or those with particularly high security and compliance demands, provide an even more extensive range of productivity-boosting and security-enhancing features. With packages also tailored for frontline workers, educational and governmental organisations, there really is a Microsoft 365 package for almost any work setting.
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