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What’s New in Microsoft 365 and What it Means for You | February 2023

What’s New in Microsoft 365 and What it Means for You | February 2023

Each month, Microsoft give us the rundown on what’s new in Microsoft 365 and we’re here to tell you why it’s important and how each new update can help you to Work Happy.

Plus, we’ve included a couple of bonus extras that didn’t make it to Microsoft’s round up this month.

So what’s new in February?

Microsoft Teams Premium

What’s the update?

Teams Premium is now generally available – in other words, it’s now available to any organisation who wishes to subscribe (currently listed at $7 per person, per month).

Why is it important?

Teams Premium makes meetings more intelligent. It helps you do more within the familiar Teams experience, reducing the number of meeting add-ons you need to pay for and manage.

Research shows that refocusing after switching between apps wastes 4 hours a week, per employee.

Extending meeting capabilities within Teams Premium keeps everything under one roof, and claws back some of that time spent flicking between apps. And maybe saves some pennies along the way, too.

How can it help me to Work Happy?

Teams Premium is all about the meeting experience, so will be most beneficial to those who attend or manage a high number of meetings, or run webinars and live events.

If that doesn’t sound like you, Teams Premium probably won’t have too much impact on your day-to-day work life.

But, given that the number of Teams meetings more than doubled between 2020 and 2021, and is continuing to rise, the new capabilities within Teams Premium will probably help a lot of people to Work Happy.

And here’s how.

AI-generated notes – automatically generate key notes and takeaways from every meeting. No need to have a dedicated note-taker attend your meetings, keep focus on what’s being said, and make sure nothing is missed.

AI-generated tasks – automatically create and suggest follow-up actions. Easily keep track of next steps and finish every meeting with an instant action plan.

Personalised timeline markers – quickly find relevant parts in meeting recordings, that only you can see. See when you joined and left, when your name was mentioned, when a screen was shared, allowing you to save time by only recapping the important bits.

AI-generated chapters – easily find where different sections of a presentation start and end in PowerPoint Live. Like with the timeline markers, save time by only recapping what’s important to you.

Branded meetings – add things like brand colours and logos to every meeting. Extend your internal brand beyond your intranet or your office space to add a sense of inclusion and community.

Some of these features are available now, and some are listed as coming soon. The more Teams Premium continues to develop, the more opportunities to help you save time, collaborate seamlessly, and Work Happy.

Viva Engage

What’s the update?

The big news in February was that over the next year, Yammer will be completely rebranded as Viva Engage.

But, that wasn’t the only news.

Enhancements to Viva Engage continued, with three new additions:

Leadership Corner – aggregates posts and announcements from leadership and cascades them to appropriate employees.

Ask Me Anything – lets employees ask questions, raise concerns, and share thoughts directly with leaders in planned events like Town Halls.

Answers in Viva – provides a forum to ask questions, and automatically surfaces answers to similar questions that have already been answered.

Why is it important?

These updates to Viva Engage seek to fix two common issues.

The first is productivity paranoia. 85% of senior leaders say hybrid working makes it harder to know if employees are being productive. Yet 87% of employees say they are productive at work.

Leadership Corner and Ask Me Anything help to connect employees and leadership, reducing the productivity paranoia gap.

The second issue is a matter of knowledge. Answers in Viva makes sharing knowledge easier, and cuts the reliance on subject matter experts by allowing employees to self-serve and find the knowledge they need.

How can it help me to Work Happy?

These updates to Viva Engage will be of particular use if you are a:

Leader – Build better connections with your employees, with more opportunities for direct interaction.

Employee – Get more visibility of key messages from leaders, share your questions and thoughts directly without having to go through a middleman, and save yourself time searching for the answers you need.

New Starter – Get up to speed quicker by finding the answers to commonly asked questions.

Subject Matter Expert – Cut down on repetition by only needing to answer frequent questions once.

Updates to Whiteboard

What’s the update?

Loop components are now available in Whiteboard. You can take an existing component from Teams, Outlook or Word for the web, and paste it into Whiteboard. Changes made to the component in Whiteboard will sync across all the places where that component lives.

Plus, there’s a neat new timer feature.

Why is it important?

Adding Loop components to Whiteboard builds on January’s update of adding components to Outlook.

The more places components are available the easier it is for colleagues to collaborate in the flow of work, wherever they are across Microsoft 365.

The timer is fairly self-explanatory – it helps keep focus and lets everyone know how long is left to complete tasks.

How can it help me to Work Happy?

If you’re a meeting facilitator who regularly relies on Whiteboard for interactive meetings, these new updates will help make your sessions even more productive.

Use a Loop component to create a task list in the meeting chat ahead of time, drop that component into your Whiteboard during the meeting, and use the timer to set a visual reminder of how long is left.

Your meeting attendees will be aware of the tasks before they join, be reminded of the tasks throughout the meeting, and know how long they have to complete their assigned tasks.

The result will be a more prepared, focused and productive meeting for all.

These next two updates aren’t included in Microsoft’s round-up, but we think they’re pretty cool

Request Files in SharePoint

What’s the update?

This new feature does what it says on the tin – lets you request files in SharePoint. This feature has been around in OneDrive for a while, but now it’s available in SharePoint too.

Create a folder where you want your requested files to be stored, select ‘Request Files’, send an invite out to everyone you need files from and voilà – watch the files come to you.

Why is it important?

Finding what we need is time-consuming. In fact, one report found employees spend over 3 hours a day just looking for the things they need.

And now that more of us are relying on SharePoint to store and share our files, not just OneDrive it makes sense to have this feature available in both platforms.

Requesting files and having them uploaded in a location of your choosing is a key ingredient for seamless collaboration. Especially with external collaborators.

People you request files from don’t need any sort of permissions to upload. They can’t edit, delete or download files – they can’t even see other files in the folder.

This makes it a great way to gather potentially sensitive information from both inside and outside your business.

How can it help me to Work Happy?

It’s like the work equivalent of online shopping. You don’t need to go out and search for what you need – just put in your order, have everything delivered to you, and have it neatly packed away in your cupboards when it arrives.

There are so many use cases where requesting files can save you tons of time.

For example:

RFP – Working on an RFP often requires lots of documentation. Send a file request to everyone involved and see how much information you can gather before having to go and hunt for it.

Case study – Request all the files and project documents relating to a piece of client work to save you searching through numerous project folders.

Employee onboarding – Request important documents from a new starter, even before they’re part of your team. This is a really simple feature that will save you time, and help keep files organised.

Tip: Your admin will need to enable the request files feature before you can use it. There’s more info on that here.

Conversation Booster in Power Virtual Agents

What’s the Update?

You might’ve noticed Microsoft talking a lot about AI lately. And this update follows the same vein. It’s still in preview, and Microsoft are clear that it’s experimental, but it’s a good indication of what’s to come.

Power Virtual Agents is the tool within Power Platform that helps you build chat bots.

Conversation booster connects your chat bot to various data sources (like your intranet or external website) and, using AI, the bot starts to construct its own responses.

This makes your chat bot smarter from the get-go, and gives developers more time to focus on building more complex conversation flows.

Why is it important?

Like many of Microsoft’s recent updates, it all comes back to saving time.

Conversation booster cuts the time and resource taken to create basic chat bots, particularly those that see repetitive requests like HR or IT.

Plus, conversation booster gives autonomy to non-technical teams to create their own chat bots without technical support.

How can it help me to Work Happy?

Whilst conversation booster is still in preview, it might not have too much impact on your day-to-day work life yet.

But, we know this is the direction Power Virtual Agent is heading in. So, start thinking now about the possibilities this could open up.

HR teams could leverage policy documentation to create bots on common queries around benefits, pay, holidays etc. Internal Comms teams could build bots that draw on FAQs from your intranet pages.

Any information that already exists on an internal or external site can be served in a chat bot in just a few clicks. Easy.

Want to explore more ways Microsoft 365 can help you to Work Happy?

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