Getting work done in the digital workplace

Posted on 17 November 2015

People want to work efficiently from almost anywhere with others via any of a variety of devices. Once upon a time, that was a big ask. But Microsoft Office 365 now enables a digital workplace that improves your teams' lives — and yours as well. Here’s how.

Work efficiently
Office 365 provides a single suite of services for different work streams and work stages, so your team can sing from the same song sheet. No more Google Drive here, Dropbox there, Evernote on the run, and Microsoft at your desk. Instead, use:

  • OneNote to capture personal and team notes with rich mark-up features; keep them private or share with others inside or outside of your organisation.
  • Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to prepare formal business documents & presentations.
  • Outlook and Lync/Skype for Business to connect with colleagues.
  • SharePoint to manage and share documents throughout their lifecycle.
  • Delve to see information that's relevant to you across all of these systems.

Additionally, save time and headaches by using Office 365 to manage authentication to third-party applications, enabling single-sign-in to eliminate the need to log in to systems separately.

Or integrate Power BI with your data sources to create and share intuitive, interactive and current reports. If you download the PowerBI app on your mobile device, you can sign up for alerts when specific thresholds are met.

Work from almost anywhere
Digital workplaces can live online in the cloud or in a hybrid cloud/on-premises environment. (Strictly speaking, your digital workplace could be entirely on-premises, but that negates the ability to really work anywhere.)

With Office 365, use Word and Excel online or install the software locally if your subscription allows. You choose whether to view and edit files within your browser, or have the full formatting experience by using the software on your computer.

All documents are saved online, but you can enable selective local syncing for access to all or specific documents when you’re offline.

Work with others 
Most of us need input from at least one person at some stage while working. Tools that enable collaboration with colleagues inside your organisation are invaluable.

Better tools enable you to share access with selected people outside the organisation as well – think partners, suppliers, contractors and customers.

The best tools support collaboration in real-time: You edit a document we’re co-authoring, and I'll see your contribution immediately. Office 365 does all of that. It’s about more than document collaboration, though.

Good communication underpins a good work environment. Sure, there's email, but in an era of inboxitis and its inbox zero counterculture, how do you know the message has been read, let alone can be found and referred to later?

SharePoint’s support of blogs and announcement lists comes to the rescue, with the added benefit of empowering readers to "like" and comment on posts. Digital workplaces should also provide social platforms to create and strengthen team relationships. Yammer provides this in Office 365.

Work via a variety of devices
Millennials aren't the only ones who want a say about the devices they use. As all generations become more tethered to phones and tablets, we want the freedom to work in a familiar environment without being inhibited by IT policy.

Software compatibility is no longer a reason to specify your team’s hardware. Office 365 is browser-based so you can access its services from anything with a modern internet browser. Microsoft also has Office apps for Apple, Android and Windows phones and tablets, so you can work natively on your mobile device.

So what’s in it for you?
In a word, plenty! By rolling out a digital workplace like Office 365, you can:

  • Facilitate collaboration. SharePoint’s document management functions ensure the whole team is looking at the latest document version, and enable you to go back to a previous version, even if it was months ago. Control document access easily by setting permissions on a file or group of files. Not ready to share a file with colleagues, but want to be sure it’s backed up? Store it in your MySite in SharePoint, or use OneDrive for Business and, depending on your preferences, access files online only, or sync them for easy offline access.
  • Share content more securely. Rather than attach a file to your email, grant the recipient access by sharing a link to it. Horror stories abound of clicking ‘send’ before realising it was the wrong document or recipient. By sharing the link via Office 365, you can quickly audit who you’ve shared a file with, and instantly and easily deactivate the shared link or set an expiry date when you no longer want the person to access it.
  • Save time searching for information. Not sure where you saved a file? Sure, you can search via Windows Explorer if you know what the document author named the file. But Office 365’s robust search tools let you search file content and user-defined metadata. Refine search results based on file types, content types, content authors, most-recently modified files, and more. Preview the content of a file before you open it. And don’t worry about people finding that a file exists which they can’t access; only files that a user has permission to view appear in their search results.
  • Make smarter technology investments. Office 365 licensing is flexible. Purchase software licenses when you need them, for short or long durations. If you’re planning a project that requires short-term access, or if want to limit expenses, pay monthly. When you know you’ll have long-term needs, purchase annual subscriptions. Go ahead and mix-and-match. You can even choose a license with only the services each user will need. All you need is a credit card to get up and running. And did you know that every OneDrive for Business login comes with 10GB of storage?
  • Avoid messy software upgrades. Upgrades to the latest versions of Office software can become large projects in their own right if deferred for too long. With Office365, users get the latest updates automatically.
  • Eliminate file servers and manual back-ups. Most cloud-based service providers have redundant back-up and security solutions that are far more reliable than your organisation could probably otherwise afford.
  • Minimise downtime. Documents are accessible from anywhere via any device, so you’ll have quick access to critical files if the unthinkable does happen to your premises or your device.

Next steps 
“Sounds great,” you say. “Sign me up!” Or at least, “Tell me more.” Here’s how you can start exploring the digital workplace for your team:

  • Contact Steve to find out how you can start realising all these benefits now.
  • Go to the Modern Business Roadshow, presented by Microsoft and Stratos’ training partner, ShareThePoint. It’s free and will be in Christchurch on 1 December. View the agenda online, or register now.
  • Visit Microsoft’s Modern Workplace site, with a range of tutorials and information.

Already signed up for Office 365 but need a hand setting up your team's environment? Contact us for ideas or elbow grease. We’ve helped companies like yours get up to speed and can help you implement a system your team will want to use.

PS: This article was created, reviewed, edited and approved using Office 365.


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