In November last year Microsoft introduced us to Microsoft Loop so, with the full release set for this summer, we thought it was time to welcome the newest app to join the Microsoft 365 platform and take a deep dive into its capabilities and benefits.
What is it?
Microsoft Loop is a new flexible canvas app with components that stay in sync as you work and can be accessed through your other favourite apps across the Microsoft 365 suite.
Loop – an evolution of Fluid components – is a collaboration, sharing, and task distribution framework designed in direct response to the rise of hybrid working models to change the way that Office works and align it better with new world ways-of-working. The goal, say Microsoft, is to make Office a ‘universal, interactive canvas for creators of all kinds.’
At its core, Loop is designed to enable teams to better think, plan, and create together, with real-time collaboration that recognises the way people work now – remotely, across devices, and at a time and pace that suits them. It does this through its three central elements: Loop components, Loop pages, and Loop workspaces.
What can it do?
Loop components are small units of productivity to help with collaboration. This powerful feature allows you to pull components into the flow of your work so you can maintain focus and context.
Loop workspaces are shared places where you and your team can bring together everything associated with your project. This helps everyone see what is being worked on and track progress.
Loop pages are flexible canvases where you can shape and organise ideas, pull in links or data, and help teams work on output together in a visually engaging way.
There are a tonne of ways that Loop will pop up in everyday practice and fit seamlessly into the flow of work.
Loop components can be simple lists, tables, notes, tasks, or maybe even sophisticated elements such as customer sales opportunities from Microsoft Dynamics 365. Because Loop components stay in sync, as you access and use them across Microsoft 365, no matter how many places they live in, you and your colleagues will always be working with the latest version.
One of the earliest releases is already out there – Loop components in Teams chat are available for Microsoft 365 commercial customers. Loop allows you to send a component – which could be a table, task list, or even just a paragraph – to everyone in your chat and they can edit inline and see changes as they are made. This can speed up collaboration and make it easy for sharing thoughts and making decisions together in the flow of live discussion.
How about a voting table that makes it easy for teams to ideate, find consensus, and complete decision-making? Insert a voting table component into Teams chat and ideas, and discussion about those ideas, can sit in a structured table – with commentary and voting happening in real time. This highly visual way to use chat maintains all the information on one screen without leaving chat and keeping the conversation flowing.
Using Loop pages a team can collaborate on a report without having to be physically together, even writing the same document at the same time. While working on a Loop page you can see the other people working in the page, comment on their work with easy-to-use emojis, move page elements around and ask for input as you go. Pages can start small and grow as your projects expand – and the great thing is you’ll never lose your notes because everything is saved as you go.
Loop workspaces are a little like hubs for your projects. They are neat, visual consolidations of your work collaborations with links off to all the elements within the project and information about the live status on each of those elements. Multiple people can work together in one workspace, at the same time and from different apps, and keeping an eye on the Loop workspace can help everyone stay on track.
What we love
- Early reviewers are loving that Loop’s components are saved within OneDrive as .fluid files for easy management (and for Power Platform lovers this also means that Power Automate automation is built in).
- We love that you can choose to collaborate synchronously or asynchronously with Loop workspaces – so if you need to take something offline to work on it, and then bring it back to sync later, you can.
- The way that Loop reflects how people work together in reality, in a virtual space. Being able to use components in chat that are like someone jumping up and drawing a quick table on a whiteboard to gather input, but virtually, not only makes hybrid collaboration easier, but also makes sure that all those ideas are captured.
- The Loop status tracker component which will help to gather information from colleagues and teams, allowing you track progress of your project – and keeping it present within your Teams channel – will help maintain an up-to-date status for the whole team to see.
- Third-party app developers will also be able to start building their own Loop components so we can’t wait to see what starts emerging later in the year.
- Loop components are also being added to facilitate business workflows which will start with Dynamics 365 records.
How will Microsoft Loop help my business?
By delivering a strong sense of being closer together – With everything we have seen and heard about Loop, we are expecting it to power charge the collaboration elements of Microsoft 365. This will enable your teams to collaborate and cooperate like never before and get a heightened sense of working together no matter where they are based. You can literally see other users’ mouse cursors moving and the characters appearing as they type.
By enabling more effective collaboration and creativity – Teams that can work synchronously can think and react on the fly, spark ideas off each other, support and advise each other, and deliver better outcomes quicker. All three elements of Loop encourage this style of working, with components bringing smart ways of working into Teams, Office and OneNote, pages making synchronous working a possibility, and workspaces creating visual hubs of work for teams.
Microsoft Loop components have already started rolling out across Microsoft 365 apps like Teams, Outlook and OneNote and we are loving what we are seeing so far. We can’t wait for components, pages, and workspaces to be available on all apps later this year.