With the traditional role that the workplace now serves, evolving organisations are discovering that their employees are increasingly working from both the office and from home. This new working arrangement has been titled the “hybrid office”, and it reflects a situation where employees are undertaking work tasks from both their organisations office, and also their own home.
And due to present realities, this type of arrangement is becoming more common and is likely to continue into the future.
A recent survey of employees who are staffed in remote-capable jobs found that 42% of participants identified as working in a hybrid situation. And 39% of this group considered themselves to be working from home full time.
An obvious major contributor to this shift in work location has been the Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has forced organisations to find new ways to engage their staff, as they could no longer be present at their usual workplace, due to health and safety concerns and governmental regulations.
And it was during this time that both employers and employees were able to experience the benefits of working in a hybrid situation firsthand. Some of the benefits of employees working remotely included an increase in morale; cost savings for both employees and their employers; and an increase in flexibility for the organisation and its operations.
Initially employers were concerned that their employee’s productivity would reduce due to these new working arrangements, but these fears were largely unfounded, and it appears that productivity has actually increased in some circumstances.
The Hybrid Office And Staying Connected
For hybrid employees to be productive they need to be connected, and a report has found that 63% of high-growth companies use a “productivity anywhere” approach in their current workplaces. And regardless of where employees are located, they need technological tools which can assist them and enable them to undertake their work-related tasks.
One of the leading providers of this type of technology is Microsoft, and the company is constantly advancing their offerings in this area. These new offerings will provide more tools for organisations to enable their hybrid-office employees and their work teams.
Below we have listed some of the ways that organisations can use Microsoft 365 to assist and optimise a hybrid office.
To be noted, some of the following Microsoft offerings are already available, and others are scheduled to be released later on this year.
Microsoft Teams And Its Expanded Features
Microsoft provides an application called Microsoft Teams which features content and text messaging, file uploading, and the capability for online video stream meetings.
It centralises all of its purposes in the one place, and Microsoft is adding more features to Microsoft Teams to assist those that use it to facilitate a hybrid office situation.
Some of the recent feature updates to Microsoft Teams include:
- Attendee registration for webinars
- A comprehensive business VoIP telephone system add-on
- A dedicated presenter mode to provide a more professional looking virtual presence to presenters
- Increased online security measures through features such as smart attachments and smart links
- The addition of a “metaverse” feature titled Mesh for Teams
The RSVP Meeting Option In Microsoft Outlook
One of the challenges of the hybrid office is to know when employees are and are not available, and whether they can attend and be present at an upcoming online meeting. A feature in Microsoft Outlook allows for its users to respond to a meeting invitation with an RSVP.
The response can be in the form of a yes, no, or maybe, and that reply will automatically update the senders’ and users’ Microsoft calendar with the details of their reply. Which in turn will allow for more awareness and appropriate planning for the meeting organiser.
Better Online Framing When Undertaking Video Chat And Conferencing
An aspect of online video chat and conferencing and that is known to distract its participants is the video framing of the members that are present in the moment. Backgrounds can be distracting, and the positioning of the user’s camera can be problematic.
Microsoft has released an online camera titled the Surface Hub 2S Smart Camera, which will address the need for the better framing of the user’s face. Fully integrated with Microsoft Teams, the Surface Hub’s features include the ability to adjust the view of the users room, so that their face will appear clearer on any transmission. And more standardised frame sizing will be available, and the video display will also adjust automatically as users enter or leave the physical location from where they are joining from.
Enhancing Your Meetings And Presentations With PowerPoint And Recording
For those that use Microsoft PowerPoint there is a feature available for Microsoft Teams that will provide for enhanced work conversations, meetings, and presentations.
The feature is called Cameo and it allows for seamless integration between PowerPoint and Teams.
Speakers can choose how and when they would like their own video feed to appear in relation to their PowerPoint presentation, and they are still able to incorporate the usual formatting, styles, and transitions to their video calls. And Microsoft PowerPoint also provides on-demand recording abilities, which allows its users to offer professional looking visual aids while they are undertaking their presentations.
Improving Your Presentation Skills
In recent years Microsoft has added significant AI capabilities to Microsoft 365.
Another feature which is now available through the PowerPoint and Teams applications is Speaker Coach. Speaker Coach is an online AI tool that can help its users improve their virtual presentations via private and personalised coaching.
After analysing a section of your speaking, Speaker Coach can offer recommendations including:
- Avoiding speaker overlaps
- Improving speaking intonation
- Improving the pace at which you speak at
- Learning to pausing for interaction from other users who might be present
- Reducing the use of filler words, such as “ummm”
- Reducing the use of repetitive language
Ask Us About How We Can Improve Your Hybrid Office Capabilities With The Use Of Microsoft 365
As you can see, Microsoft 365 comes with many helpful features which can help improve you and your organisations online and hybrid office situations. We can help your organisation improve its online workplace by introducing you to and assisting you with the implementation of these features.
Please contact us today if you would like any assistance and we will let you know how your organisation can best make use of Microsoft 365 and its various features.