Remote working has increased substantially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While many companies had already been in the process of transitioning some or all of their workforce to a partially remote or remote/in-person hybrid, this process was greatly accelerated in 2020. Technological advancements combined with better, faster Internet connectivity have made it possible to connect workers – no matter where they are – for collaborative work.
One of the most robust technological tools available today that enables companies to bridge their remote and in-house staff is Microsoft Office 365. It features many productivity and collaboration tools that empower remote and in-house collaboration for employees, such as:
Microsoft SharePoint creates a virtual workspace where teams can meet and collaborate on projects. It has the benefit of being a platform that ensures exclusivity. As each employee creates a SharePoint instance, they control who can participate, who can access the content, and how long the instance will be available. This flexibility allows employees to create teams of all sizes that they need to work on each task.
SharePoint is also a centralized location to store documents, chat, videoconference, complete tasks, and access other employee calendars. Multiple employees can edit a document simultaneously, and the synchronization protocols ensure that each user is updated to any changes so that everyone has the latest version of a document.
As another component of Microsoft 365, Teams enables collaboration across geographical distances from many devices. Teams allows employees to easily switch between multiple communication methods – including video conferencing, instant messaging, document collaboration, file sharing, and telephony – within a single window. This flexibility ensures that employees can continuously communicate in whatever capacity is best for them at the moment.
Microsoft Teams is renowned for its easy-to-use design, which generally facilitates communication with only one or two clicks. When integrated as part of Office 365, synchronization ensures that employees can access other productivity apps and the latest version of all working documents. Teams is also continuously incorporating apps from partners like Trelly and SurveyMonkey, allowing employees to use these additional tools efficiently.
Microsoft Outlook has been one of the most popular email platforms for decades. However, it offers far more than email. It is a way to centralize team communication, tracking, scheduling, and other resources. Microsoft 365 also features Outlook Groups, which provides users with a shared place where teams can work and collaborate. You can easily manage and prioritize tasks to keep all employees from any location on top of the next steps necessary to move your projects along.
Additionally, when a file is shared using SharePoint, it can be opened directly in the Outlook window, making it accessible with just one click. Outlook also makes it easy to manage email and conversation threads. You can use it to organize and save contacts and manage appointments, meetings, and daily tasks. The calendar feature accounts for differences in time zones, allowing you to select meeting times that work for each person’s individual availability. The Recurrence and Remind features also enhance the meeting experience.
Microsoft OneDrive works in conjunction with SharePoint but provides a personal, individual repository for all in-progress documents. This platform allows each employee to store work that they are currently editing until it is ready to be shared with the broader team. It is private by default until you are ready to share it with the broader team. OneDrive also lets you specify who it can be shared with when you are ready for the content to be distributed. This micro-level of control for each document and resource ensures that only people who should view a document are able to access it. You can easily manage access, edit resources, and share documents and content. OneDrive is also accessible from many different mobile devices, ensuring that you can access documents when you need them, no matter where you are.
OneNote is an additional feature of Office 365 that helps employees stay organized, even from multiple locations. Employees are able to annotate conversations, take notes during a presentation, and plan tasks. You can invite people to use a notebook when you want to share feedback. Edits are near-instantaneous, ensuring efficient collaboration and communication across all users. It’s also easy to disable a OneNote link after you no longer need it or would like to rescind access. You can even share using different methods, such as Bluetooth, Wi-fi Direct, and social media channels including YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
These features are core collaborative tools found with Microsoft Office 365. However, there is room to tailor the experience based on your business needs and processes. Other features, such as Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft PowerAutomate, can be integrated to streamline communication and workflows to ensure that all employees are working to achieve the same goals.
The benefits of using Microsoft Office 365 to bridge your remote and in-house staff are profound. On a fundamental level, these tools collectively ensure that your employees can:
- Work from anywhere with a stable internet connection.
- Collaborate, co-author, and edit a single document or task simultaneously with real-time synchronization.
- Work in a highly secure environment. Office 365 has advanced threat protection that addresses even the most sophisticated emerging digital threats. It also protects from data loss, which can cripple many business processes.
- Stay mobile. With many of the collaboration and communication tools available from any mobile device, you can ensure that your employees can access what they need, when they need it, from wherever they are, and with any device available.
- Easily access calendars and schedule meetings.
- Restrict or limit access to documents and work-in-progress until it is ready to be shared.
With the rise of mobile and remote workers, companies need robust solutions that allow employees to remain effective and efficient from any location. Office 365 delivers this and so much more. With the help of a managed IT service provider, you can easily streamline your work processes and ensure dynamic communication to help your business perform better than ever before.
Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning, and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.