During the pandemic we heard a lot about the new normal. Everybody was going to work from home, offices would close down, and the world of work would change for ever. Of course, others insisted that once the pandemic was ‘over’ everything would go back to the way it was before.
The truth, as so often happens, lies somewhere in between.
For many companies’ Hybrid Working is the ‘new normal’. Office space has been retained, and people work from them two or three days a week, working from home for the remainder of the time.
There was a survey of employees with remote-capable jobs. The survey found that as of February of 2022, 42% of them were working a hybrid schedule. And 39% were working from home full time.
There are many benefits to working from home, and many in working in an office – so combining the two just seems like common sense.
These benefits of remote teams included cost savings for both workers and employers. It also allows the company to operate with more flexibility. Improved worker morale is another advantage.
Many businesses pre-pandemic worried that those working form home would be less productive. This was not the case. In fact, in many circumstances productivity increased.
The Hybrid Approach
63% of high-growth companies use a “productivity anywhere” hybrid work approach.
There have been some extreme examples of this. Air BnB’s ‘live and work anywhere’ policy as an example
In order for hybrid teams to be productive they need to stay connected. No matter where they work, the right technology tools should enable them.
One of the leaders in this space is, of course, Microsoft. The company already provides the tools that teams need for hybrid working. They also continue to develop a myriad of new features, tools and apps for the modern workplace.
Here are just a few of the ways Microsoft 365 helps hybrid working in your business.
Note, that some of these features are already out, and others should release later this year.
Microsoft Teams & Expanded Features
Microsoft Teams was built from the ground up to connect your teams. It integrates all communication tools you need to collaborate effectively, including chat, voice calls, video meetings, file sharing, task management, and social networking.
MS Teams has come a long way in the last five years. And the company continues to add more features to enable hybrid offices. Some of the recent feature updates include:
- The ability to take webinar registrations
- Presenter modes that provide a more professional virtual presence
- Increased security through features like smart links and smart attachments
- A full business VoIP phone system add-on
- The addition of a “metaverse” component called Mesh for Teams
New Meeting Options for RSVP in Outlook
If you call a meeting it’s really useful to know whether people will be joining physically or virtually. One of the ways Microsoft 365 helps hybrid working is in managing these meetings. Outlook already defaults to a Teams Meeting as standard but additional options for more detailed RSVP responses will start to roll out soon.
With this feature, you can let the organiser and other attendees know how you plan to attend a meeting, whether in person or virtually. These responses can be seen by anyone in the meeting invite, inside and outside of your organisation.
One of the best methods for brainstorming and collaborating in meetings is a good old-fashioned whiteboard. With both hybrid and remote working this was more difficult. However with Microsoft Whiteboard, multiple users can collaborate on a virtual whiteboard from a variety of devices. The whiteboard can also be added to a Teams meeting to collaborate in real time with colleagues for brainstorming, project planning or to explain a concept.
Get Better Control of Your Video Using PowerPoint to Present
We’ve all experienced ‘death by PowerPoint’. The new version is when people share a screen in a video call and present a PowerPoint presentation. It’s almost impossible to keep people engaged.
With an in person presentation, you can maintain eye contact. People can clearly see your facial expressions as you emphasise various points. You cannot do this when presenting virtually. Your face often gets pushed into a little box in the corner of the screen..
To tackle this there is an upcoming feature for Teams called Cameo. It will allow you to seamlessly integrate PowerPoint with MS teams. With cameo, you can insert your live camera feed directly on a PowerPoint slide. Then you can apply the same effects to your camera feed as you can to a picture or other object, including formatting, transitions, and styles.
Another addition is Recording Studio. This new feature for PowerPoint allows you to record professional-looking on-demand videos. You can do it right inside the app.
Get Help With Your Presentation Skills
Microsoft has poured a lot of AI capabilities into Microsoft 365 over the past few years. One that will soon help you deliver better virtual presentations is Speaker Coach.
This is a private and personalised coach that can help you hone your presentation skills. There are differences between presenting online versus in person. Speaker coach aims to help you overcome them
Some of the feedback it can provide includes:
- Use of repetitive language
- Use of filler words (Ummm)
- Speaking pace
- Pausing for input
- Speaker overlaps
- And more
Improved digital experience for employees
One of the difficulties with remote or hybrid working is employee engagement. With less time spent face-to-face this needs to be tackled online too. That’s where Microsoft Viva can help.
Viva is an employee experience platform that brings together learning, insights, communications and resources into one platform. It includes four categories
- Connections: uses AI to provide innovative engagement experiences to keep all employees informed of company events
- Learning: Allows team managers to assign courses or classes to specific teams or individuals, promoting a culture of development and learning in the company
- Insights: enables companies to make data-driven improvements to their processes and policies to improve employee well-being and productivity
- Topics: Organizes content across the organization so employees can easily find the information they are looking for
Ask Us About How Microsoft 365 helps Hybrid Working in Your Business
Microsoft 365 has a ton of helpful features. But it does help to have an expert guide to help you navigate these capabilities. Contact us today to set up a chat about how Microsoft 365 helps hybrid working and make your business grow.