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Microsoft 365 News and Updates – October 2021

Microsoft 365 is constantly evolving. So much so that it is often hard to keep up with all the new features.

The Microsoft 365 Blog is a fantastic place to find out what’s new in Microsoft 365. However, there is a lot of information there. A lot of these is really only relevant for large, enterprise size businesses. So, to save you time, we’ve picked out the bits we think are most relevant. The bits you can implement quickly and might save you time, or make your Microsoft 365 experience that bit better.

Here’s some of the features in Microsoft 365 you can start using today!

Work together and personalise your Microsoft Teams meeting experience

Take notes and edit records right within Teams with new partner apps: Last month, Microsoft announced the general availability of new collaborative apps from their partners. Confluence Cloud by Atlassian in Teams is designed to enable more effective meetings. Users can take notes with a Confluence notes panel inside a Teams meeting. Confluence makes team notes digestible and action-oriented. Users can format notes such as action items, decisions, code snippets, mentions, and tables. These notes are then formatted and automatically shared in a Teams channel.

Salesforce for Teams is also now generally available. With this collaborative app, sales and service teams using Salesforce Sales Cloud or Service Cloud can bring account data and records into their Teams workspace for better collaboration and decision making. With the Salesforce for Teams app, users can pin Salesforce records to channels, chats, and calendar meetings to easily keep access to them. There is also an expanded set of supported Salesforce records, including Custom Objects.

Add open or moderated Q&As to any Teams meeting: To help provide a more structured question and answer experience during larger meetings, Microsoft have introduced the new Q&A app. This enables attendees to ask and reply to questions before and during a meeting. Organisers and designated presenters can mark best answers, filter responses, moderate and dismiss questions, and pin posts. Responses to questions are threaded in a conversation with the original question. Designated presenters can act as co-moderators to help screen questions. The Q&A app became generally available in September. To add Q&A to a meeting, simply add the app during the scheduling process.

Add moderated discussions, pinning, and best answers to any Teams Meeting

Build in breaks and stay on top of what’s most important

Research has shown that small breaks throughout the day make a big difference in employee wellbeing. Microsoft are introducing new features in Outlook and Yammer to help ensure you can plan breaks as needed throughout your day and help you keep track of important messages and critical tasks.

With increased online meetings it is important to take breaks throughout the day and stretch our legs. In April, Microsoft introduced speedy events, which automatically sets events to start “late” or end “early,” helping people carve out essential breaks between back-to-backs meetings. This month, support has been expanded to the new Outlook for Mac.

End times show both regular end times and end times with shortened durations.

Pin your most important messages at the top of your inbox: With large inboxes and busy days, finding a specific email you read earlier can be tedious and disruptive to your workflow. You now have the ability to pin a message. This moves it to the top of your inbox so it’s easy to find later. Pinned messages is now generally available to all users in Outlook for the web, Mac, and mobile.

A screenshot of a pinned message in the message list.
A screenshot of the pin option displayed when hovered over the message in the message list.

Get reminders to take action on email messages you might have missed: Message reminders in Outlook on the web help you stay on top of things by bringing messages you might have missed to the top of your inbox so you can easily take action on them. So as not to clutter your inbox Outlook will only remind you of one message at a time. Log in to Outlook on the web to try it out.

Windows PC showing Outlook on the web with a message where Outlook reminds the user to reply to a message from 3 days ago

Increase productivity with new features in your favorite apps

Find your files more effectively with suggested attachments: Planner now supports suggested attachments in tasks. When you want to add attachments to a task, Planner shows a list of related files to select from. No more hunting through your folders, servers, or cloud storage to find the right file to attach. Suggested attachments in Planner automatically recommends files that you might want to attach to the plan, saving you time. To experience the new capability, within a task in Planner for the web, scroll down to the bottom of the task to find the Suggested attachments section and select Add next to the file you’d like to attach.

Create shapes in your diagrams in Visio for the web—Currently, when you select a shape to add to your diagram from the available shape sets, the shape is added with predetermined dimensions. You then have to resize the shape based on their requirements. To help, Microsoft have added the Draw Shape tool. This enables you to draw shapes, including rectangles, squares, lines, circles, and ellipses, at the size and location you prefer. To create a shape in your diagram from the Insert tab, select the Draw Shape drop-down, select the shape you want, click anywhere in the canvas, and then drag to draw the shape.

Create shapes in your Visio diagrams with the draw shape tool from the insert tab on the ribbon.