Nine top Microsoft tools to increase productivity when working from home
Working from home has quickly become the new norm for a lot of companies and for a long time now we’ve been advising businesses on the best technology to use to make working remotely seamless and efficient, while maintaining high-level client service. We are experts in the tools and regularly use them ourselves. Here are our top nine Microsoft recommendations to increase productivity while working remotely.
Teams is a central platform where you can communicate and collaborate with your team. It combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and application integration. It allows for your team to stay in the conversation at anytime, anywhere in the world. It provides the options to message or video chat one-to-one or in groups.
You can also download the app to your phone so that you can stay in touch on the go. It is customisable; you can set up your workspace how you want and connect it to other Microsoft platforms. You can upload files via chat or send SharePoint links so that documents can be edited in real time, ensuring everyone has the latest version.
SharePoint is an online platform that holds all your documents and data on the cloud, meaning your whole company can access its files and work anywhere with a computer and internet connection. Many companies use it as a storage website where information can be placed, organised and accessed from any device.
You can also see the history of documents if you would like to revert back to an older version. This means everyone can work on one central document without having multiple versions. SharePoint is also very secure, it has two-factor authentication every time you log into a new device and anti-malware protection is automatically provided for files that are uploaded and saved to document libraries.
Microsoft also uses multiple encryption methods, protocols, and algorithms across its products to help provide a secure path for data to travel through the infrastructure as well as to help protect the confidentiality of the data stored. You can also add certain restrictions to employees to control what they can and can’t access.
OneDrive is an online cloud storage platform which offers a large amount of space for free. It’s essentially an online folder system for file storage, which is similar to SharePoint, however SharePoint is more for a company as a whole and includes many other features such as collaboration, a content management system, and dashboards.
On OneDrive you can access and share your files in one place with the peace of mind that it’s all backed up. Using any device, you can log onto your account and see the files you have stored.
You can also create links to folders so that you can share your files with others and can specify if the file or folder is public or private.
Microsoft Planner creates a simple and visual way to organise teamwork. You can make plans, assign and reassign tasks, share files and get progress updates. You can also integrate it with Outlook so that you get reminders when tasks are due or late. It helps bring accountability and transparency to the tasks undertaken.
Yammer is a social networking service but for businesses. It helps employees connect and communicate across the organisation and collaborate across multiple offices around the world. It reduces the amount of emails as messages can be seen on Yammer.
You can also make department groups so that queries can be answered on the platform and work can be done quicker. Updates can be posted on the platform for everyone to learn more about the company and praise can be given to employees who have excelled at work.
It is an informal platform where personality can be shown through gifs and images. Yammer enhances your organisation’s culture as you can be more transparent by easily keeping your employees up to date, which in turn helps build trust
Microsoft Whiteboard is a freeform digital canvas which allows for easy collaboration of ideas and content. You can create charts and shapes and freely draw. The interface is designed for pen, touch and keyboard. Your team can join together and collaborate on the virtual canvas anywhere around the world and across all devices.
Sway is a presentation program similar to PowerPoint but is on the cloud. It also provides more narrative devices and has a storyline rather than slides. If you’re stuck on what to put in your presentation, there is a “Start from a topic” option where you enter a topic and then Sway will outline a presentation for you, with information taken from Wikipedia. It is also very customisable; you can choose whether your presentation scrolls horizontally or vertically, the colour theme, background and more.
If you aren’t a great designer, it can also design your presentation for you. As it is on the cloud your team can edit it in real time, so you all have the latest version. Sway can also be used to keep your team up to date with the latest news and information in a format accessible on all devices.
Microsoft Stream is an internal corporate video-sharing service. Your company can upload, view and share videos securely. These videos could be ‘how to videos’, a briefing from the senior leadership team or recordings of meetings, training sessions, presentations and more. It also provides the option to share comments on the video and refer to specific points.
You can easily manage who views your video content and choose how widely you want to share the video within your organisation. You can also organise your video content into groups or channels so it’s easy to find.
Stream is combatable with other Microsoft apps, like Teams, SharePoint, OneNote, and Yammer, so you can efficiently share your content.
Forms is an app that lets you create surveys, quizzes and polls. As it is on the cloud, you can easily access the results in real time.
Being able to easily access the documents you need remotely, while also being able to collaborate with your team in real time, is essential for a modern workforce. These tools will help enhance productivity, teamwork and boost employees’ performance. Now, more than ever, these cloud-based tools are vital, and companies should invest and make the most of the latest technology to survive in a digital world.
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