Perhaps one of the most unexpected changes from the pandemic is the consensus employees feel about the need for greater flexibility in when and how they work—and the urgent need for accommodating technology. Accenture’s 2021 Future of Work study found that 83 percent of workers globally prefer a hybrid work model. How can small and midsize companies (SMBs) best support technology infrastructure and employees, stationed in-house and remotely?
Based on research and the growing demand to foster the employee experience, companies are exploring how to become more flexible where we work, how we work and via processes that support business operations. It seems that optimal collaboration is the name of the game. As is a cost-effective approach.
“We are going to use, perhaps, digital technology…to bring about more control to any inflationary pressure….across the broad economy,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in an interview with CNBC’s Jon Fortt. “A lot of the technology investments we announced…[will] be deflationary, because [they are] going to help everyone participate in meetings and help drive productivity up.”
Dynamic Collaboration, Wherever You Are Located
Microsoft, for one, has put a lot of thought into how to support cost-effective connection and collaboration, providing a cohesive experience for employees. The company recently announced a vision for the future of hybrid work. And Microsoft Teams is a critical tool that enables it.
It’s not just about communication…it’s about continuity. “…The first line people…they are also using applications that are integrated into their workflow,” says Nadella.
The thru line connecting new features and product enhancements is the concept of asynchronous collaboration, where communication isn’t limited by a linear call and response format or proximity. It can be flexible, occurring when and where the user finds most ideal.
Microsoft is achieving such asynchronous collaboration using fluid components. This is the effect:
Everyone Looks Like They Are in The Room
Microsoft Teams Rooms strives to make all participants visible and able to be heard, whether they are physically present or not. The layout is sleek, with a video gallery positioned at the bottom of the screen, flanked by fluid agenda, tasks and notes. On a dual display, the video space expands further. Either way, remote attendees get greater visibility.
Partnerships with hardware partners are enabling camera functionality that improves the remote attendee experience. Most strive to capture the room, providing a wide shot view and a close-up frame of each person and/or speaker. There are also transcriptions (the speakers are voice-identified), wide and close-up white board views and the ability to configure attendees in a setting of your choosing.
The new Teams features keep meetings moving, with chat prompts for upcoming speakers and reminders to unmute, but there is also time and space to react to what’s happening, with visual representations of likes, applause, laughs and other social cues.
Content is Collaborative and Real-Time, Regardless of Where it Appears
Elements like agendas, OneNote notes and tasks, spreadsheets, etc. can be shared and updated by all meeting attendees, dynamically. But wherever you attach or plug in these elements, including Teams chat threads and Outlook workboards, they will display the most recent version. Across the board, the content always appears in real-time. There is less work to manage and circulate documents when content is updated in any view, so no one misses out.
The best way to understand fluid components is to see them in action.
Resources Keep Everyone Up-to-Date and On Task Post-Meeting
No one misses out if they can’t attend the meeting, either. Teams compiles and shares with invitees: the meeting recording, voice-activated chat transcript, white board, agenda and tasks. Anyone who can’t attend can catch up on what happened, next steps and action items when they are available.
Either way, the software helps the team interact, stay current and maintain momentum. It’s all part of the cohesive way Microsoft envisions the future, where employee experience is vitally enhanced by the continuity of technology injected into daily activities.
“So PowerApps is being used, along with Teams and, of course, PowerApps is built on Azure databases,” says Nadella. “So to me, building out the continuity from infrastructure to SaaS–with security, with great tooling–that’s the Microsoft cloud value proposition…What’s the differentiation of Microsoft? It’s about the Microsoft Cloud, all the way from business applications to Teams, Microsoft 365, Azure and everything in between.”
With Microsoft, you’re opting into a consistent and connected technology experience enabled from back-end databases to front-end applications.
Microsoft Teams Integrations Also Help Make Business Processes More Flexible, Collaborative
It’s easy to see what a star player Microsoft Teams is given this game plan, but the ability to integrate with Microsoft Teams helps SMBs infuse flexibility into business functions and processes. Including IT service desk operations.
Tikit is one such app that capitalizes on Microsoft Teams’ collaborative and conversational functionality to transform the IT service desk. Like other third-party apps, it provides a native Teams experience, integrating in a way that adds value seamlessly without disruption.
For a company running on Microsoft 365, Tikit is the best way to approach ticketing and the help desk function.
Tikit’s Teams Ticketing System gives employees the ability to reach IT support analysts just by sending a Teams chat. Instead of waiting to get the ball rolling around a solution, employees can chat immediately with a virtual assistant that offers instructions to resolve the problem. If it doesn’t, the issue is easily escalated to a live analyst.
The live analyst can extract details quickly via chat, and even share screenshots and other visuals to clearly depict the situation. It’s a more fluid way to collaborate, problem-solve.
Tikit also improves the process of ticket management—especially among a hybrid workforce. It consolidates requests from various sources into one steam, while maintaining all documentation. It also helps analysts prioritize and delegate tickets for a more productive and less chaotic support operation.
You could invest in a complex help desk solution. But with all of the flexibility Microsoft Teams (and Microsoft 365 offerings) provides, including the ability to enhance numerous business functions, why should you?