Effective Hybrid Working Combined with Microsoft 365

Posted By: Helen Thursday 15th October 2020 Tags: , , , ,

Today we are evaluating the current working climate in conjunction with how companies are operating now and potentially in the future. We’re also looking at the benefits of Microsoft 365 and how this and the aforementioned factors coincide.

Turns out;

The world as we now know it is very different. Almost trapped between one day and the next, employers are balanced between a physical work presence and the announcement of an effective vaccine, bringing back a safe and ‘normal’ world. In the meantime, remote working is absolutely the new ‘norm’ across many parts of the UK.

We’re lucky to have this option;

Imagine a pandemic in the year 1990. Employees could of course work from home but entire companies doing this would have proven to be a logistical nightmare. With zero access to emails, fax machine sales would have rocketed! There were no file sharing options, no fast and simple ways to sign and return contracts and even more stumbling blocks to be tackled.

Introducing Hybrid Working

It’s possible you’re already entwined in the hybrid working system without having even heard the terminology. In essence, ‘hybrid’ is a combination of two or more elements, such as ‘hybrid vehicles’. If you’re working from home and at another location, this is effectively classed as hybrid working. Love it, loathe it, have no opinion on it, this is our situation, set to last anon.

Is the Hybrid Process potentially here to stay?

Worldwide pandemic aside, companies are finding strategies that work when using this method. Chances are, once the world is secure again, the hybrid process will have earned its place in the working world forevermore. What we’re asking today, is how to best manage this. We have put together a number of solutions that when used in combination, prove most effective. 

Paving the Way for Microsoft 365

Video used with permission from Microsoft. The above video provides a fantastic run through of Microsoft 365 in its entirety. The original content and video can be found here, https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365.

With the hybrid process set to be integral and a fundamental way of future work life, companies need a system to help ‘bridge the gap’. Allowing employers to consolidate teams, projects and much more, Microsoft 365 is the answer. This sophisticated and productive software provides cloud services, device management and is fully equipped with advanced security features.

Establish productivity;

You’re probably already familiar with certain elements of 365 including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Combine this with emails, calendar systems, online chat, calls and meetings as well as cloud storage, your team instantly has access to whatever they need, wherever they are. So far so good.

But there’s more;

It’s the year 2020 and no matter how much some of us continue to fight against a digital era, paperwork and physical paper trails are fast dying out. Microsoft forms allows companies to reduce and digitise manual paper based forms, easily. Further benefits of 365 allow for the creation and distribution of surveys, polls and questionnaires. This feature is ideal for data capturing to be used alongside targeted marketing campaigns.

And all of this is secure;

As a business owner you need to ensure and have the confidence that all information, documents and data are fully secure. 365 defends you against potential cyberthreats including viruses, malware, phishing attempts and more. Customer data is kept secure and protected against accidental deletion keeping you fully GDPR compliant. When working from home, each and every team member’s personal devices remain safe and secure. 

Expanding Microsoft 365 so it Works for You

Now we have an idea of the principal 365 features, it’s important to link these with additional attributes that strengthen the hybrid working model. Through examination, the team at LaneSystems have compiled a fundamental package of Microsoft 365 products designed to assure a practical and effective workforce.

Enter, Microsoft Outlook

Straightforward to use, Outlook, otherwise known as an ‘email client’, allows users to send and receive emails. So far so good.

But that’s not all!

If you think Outlooks only function is to send and receive emails, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Store contacts all in one place;

It’s really simple to store contact information such as name, email address and contact telephone numbers within Outlook. Have this information elsewhere? No problem, import it across; job done!

Make use of the calendar;

Received a message with a date and time for a video call? Add it straight to the integrated calendar. You can even set reminders.

Manage tasks with ease;

Forget those scraps of paper with endless job lists strewn around the office. Outlook allows you to create, manage and track tasks until they’re complete.

Take notes;

Again, let paper be a thing of the past. Not only are you doing your part for the environment, the process of note taking becomes so much simpler and quicker. Think of ‘post its’ or ‘sticky notes’. Outlook notes are the perfect solution for ideas, lists and reminders. These can also be saved if required.

Create a journal tracker;

This Outlook feature allows you to combine actions with contacts. The journal will also place each action into a timeline view.

With standard documents such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, an indepth email and calendaring facility, we now must consider a safe and secure method of collaboration and communication.

Welcome; Microsoft Teams

Let’s begin with a perk!

Included within Office 365, Microsoft Teams is free to use (and don’t we all love a freebie)?

And if this one perk wasn’t enough;

Teams allows your teams (see what they did there) to collaborate successfully, easily AND face to face. This powerful software allows businesses to continue effectively and is the next best move when a physical presence isn’t possible.

So what does it do?

Teams make communication easy, from absolutely anywhere with an internet connection. Here’s how it works:

Chat Functionality: Converse with individual and multiple people.

Conversation Boards: Channels and subjects related to specific teams.

Document Storage Facility: Share files with everyone or certain people.

Video Calling: Call employers, employees and customers, seamlessly. 

Screen Sharing: Share your screen and and take advantage of multi-user real-time collaboration.

It’s starting to come together;

We now have a dedicated email platform, access to a whole range of document templates and a way to keep in touch with team members easily and effectively. Teams software is also good for storing and sharing documents, but what if you could take things one step even further? 

Come on down; SharePoint

SharePoint in Microsoft 365 is a cloud based service and will help your company distribute and administer content, knowledge and applications. The focus of SharePoint is based around collaboration; a paramount feature of hybrid working. 

What does SharePoint offer?

Share Externally: Content and files can be shared with those in your team and even customers.

Content Management: There’s nothing worse than having documents scattered all over. SharePoint uses libraries and lists allowing for straightforward management.

Team Sites: This facility allows you to determine specific user groups to both view and collaborate content.

Automation: Business processes are fundamental for any company. SharePoint gives you the opportunity to automate processes through workflow and alert creation.

A bit of advice from those who know;

SharePoint really is an excellent feature, especially when used in conjunction with everything else we’ve discussed in this blog. Something to be aware of however, is having a solid understanding of its use. Training is certainly key when it comes to this product.

A couple of stories;

Situation 1: Reading a blog we recently learned of a company who didn’t lockdown certain documents to higher management. This meant an entire company had direct access to personal files, data and sensitive information that should not be viewed by everyone. Not only is this a major GDPR related breach, it has the potential to cause numerous internal problems.

Situation 2: We offered some free licences to a dummy SharePoint account for one of our clients with the advice to have a look and play around. The client in question loved the features before getting in touch to advise they had locked themselves out and didn’t have access to change security permissions.

What do we suggest?

It’s important to liaise with the professionals when it comes to using SharePoint. Before rolling this out to an entire team we recommend some advice and training from those in the know!

And finally, a quote (enhanced slightly by us)

“To be able to work from home successfully takes all of the following: motivation, perseverance, work, good habits, no excuses, balance, accountability, action and collaborative, secure IT Systems!”