Is Microsoft Teams the (Only) Solution to Working at Home?
We are all working from home these days and the tools for remote working are a godsend. People are using Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack, and of course, Microsoft Teams. For many businesses, Microsoft Teams is closing the distance between us by enabling real-time collaboration via audio and video calls with colleagues. Some of us are even using Teams to set up meetings with external parties like customers, suppliers, and partners. And it works great (usually… note the outage in Europe last week). But as we scramble to stay on top of business from home (with considerable background noise from the kids and other family members), it is important to remember that there is more to getting work done than speaking to colleagues via video calls and virtual conferences. Some of us are chatting with colleagues using Teams conversations. Email is also playing a critical role in connecting us to other folks, both inside and outside the organization. And almost everyone is working with documents to further normal business for things like contracts, proposals, project plans, engineering diagrams, and emergency business continuity. And here lies one of the biggest problems we are dealing with today. Workers Need to Be Self-Sufficient Working from home puts people on a virtual island. You can’t just walk down the hall and ask a colleague where they stored the latest version of the contract we are working on and you can’t huddle the team around the water cooler to do a quick sync on the latest project. On our virtual work island, we need to be self-sufficient. What that means for a lot of folks is making sure they have all the documents and resources at the tip of their fingers. With all the stress of working from home, people don’t want the added burden of having to spend valuable time searching for documents, especially if they can’t be sure these will be the latest versions. No Man is a (Virtual) Island The solution for many remote workers is to hoard information on the local drive of their home computer or work laptop. Everyone has their own copy of the ‘truth’ and that works…. until it doesn’t. When contracts need to be reviewed and proposals need to be updated, what ensues is document chaos; the kind of chaos that is not only unproductive, it can be catastrophic when incorrect versions of documents are sent to customers and suppliers. These documents often contain corporate commitments; you just can’t afford to drop the ball. What Can You Do? The solution to this problem is creating order out of chaos using the Microsoft tools you already have. This involves invoking some simple business processes and making it easy for people to do the right thing. First of all, you need to make sure that instead of hoarding documents on local drives, everything that colleagues need to access is stored in a centralized location. Then, content has to be classified correctly so others can find it easily. But this is easier said than done. People are in a hurry and all this storing and classifying takes time.The key is making this process transparent and simple enough so that everyone will do it. It sounds complicated and it can be, but harmon.ie makes this simple for even the most technophobic worker on your team.
March 2020 | harmon.ie Team
Working from Home? harmon.ie SmartAssistant™ Is a Critical Part of Your Remote Collaboration Suite
In today’s environment, when people are working increasingly from home, it is more important than ever to make sure everyone in your company is on the same page. With so many options to communicate with colleagues, it is easy to drop the ball. For example, you have Outlook, SharePoint, and now Teams to share content, so it is very easy for business information to become fragmented across multiple apps. Once fragmented, it is virtually impossible to piece together to see the big picture. And now, with so many people working remotely, it is even harder to stay on track. That’s why you need harmon.ie SmartAssistant™ more than ever. SmartAssistant is the world’s first product to link an organization’s internal staff conversations and external communications in Office 365, by intelligently connecting emails, documents, and conversations in Teams. SmartAssistant offers the following capabilities: Drag and drop emails and attachments from Outlook directly to a Teams channel, which saves the email to the Team’s mailbox or SharePoint location and saves the attachments to the channel’s underlying SharePoint files location. Seamless Outlook/Teams transitions: After dragging and dropping content to a Teams channel, you can post the files to your team in an Adaptive Card and continue the conversation in the Teams app. Metadata: When copying emails and attachments to Teams channels, users are prompted to apply metadata to SharePoint documents, as well as to emails. Using metadata, related emails and attachments remain connected. harmon.ie “Teams” Outlook tab: displays all emails and attachments copied to Teams, directly in the Outlook sidebar. Users can then:
o Display emails and attachments previously added to the conversation from harmon.ie.
o Filter the list of emails by team or channel.
o View and edit emails and attachments using their native app (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Excel).
o Notify team members about a saved email and/or attachment. Display favorite Teams and channels directly in the harmon.ie “Favorites” view. You can also drag and drop emails, attachments, and documents onto a drop target in the harmon.ie Favorites view.
March 2020 | harmon.ie Team
Can Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Play a Role in Email Management?
Despite what you may be hearing from the Slack and Microsoft Teams communities, the amount of email is not going down; in fact, it is continuing to spiral out of control. A new market report published this week by the Radicati Group finds that “the number of worldwide email users will grow to nearly 4.5 billion by 2024.” Last year’s report found that “the number of emails sent and received per day will grow to over 347 billion by the end of 2023.” That translates to tens of emails per day per user, on average. And we know that information workers are anything but average users, so their situation is far worse. With all that email piling up, it’s no wonder “we can’t find what we need when we need it at work.” Some Emails Are More Equal Than Others One of the keys to finding emails at work is reducing the size of the email pile. Research shows that only a small portion of business emails need to be retained for future reference. So, identifying those key emails is challenge #1. The second challenge is capturing the important emails in a central repository and classifying them in a uniform way, together with related documents, so all content is categorized according to a standard method. When classified properly, these emails become easy to find later. The Role of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint in Email Management You already have a centralized repository for documents, it’s called SharePoint. But your workers probably aren’t using SharePoint to store emails, because they access emails from Outlook/Exchange. Unfortunately, colleagues don’t have access to those emails because they are locked in individual inboxes. Plus, important emails are documents of records, just like those created using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, CAD systems, etc. So, why are they left languishing in Exchange mailboxes? So, what are your options to organize Microsoft documents and emails using the tools you have already purchased?
March 2020 | harmon.ie Team