Creating space for connections and collaboration
- Posted on October 15, 2021
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
This article was originally published in IT Brief Australia.
The workplace experience today and in the future looks drastically different from what was envisioned two or three years ago. No one could have imagined the changes, experienced since 2019, would be so long-lasting and its impact so profound.
Before working from home became commonplace, the office was where most professional activity was conducted. At the end of a working day, employees could return home and ‘switch off’, drawing a distinct line between their professional and personal lives. Today, companies and organisations are onboarding new-joiners remotely; employee training and team-bonding activities take place virtually; moments that matter for employees are celebrated through different digital channels of communication; and collaborating becomes boundaryless.
A large portion of the workforce consists of vital first-line workers: the people who work as tellers in banks, nurses and porters in hospitals, shopfloor staff in retail. When the world shifted to remote working overnight, it became apparent that the people on the floor, behind the teller’s desk or counter were not equipped to do so and lacked the tools to stay connected to their broader organisation. Good news is – this digital gap between office-based workers and field-based employees is diminishing, thanks to smarter technology and the accessibility of tools such as Microsoft Teams.
Now with the arrival of Microsoft Viva, the future of work will deliver a seamless, consistent experience for every type of employee: first-line or field-based, knowledge or desk-based, onsite, offsite, hybrid, flexible, full time, part time or job sharing. Using Microsoft Teams as a unifying experience, Viva is Microsoft’s Employee Experience Platform that brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources and insights to foster organisational culture and enable collaboration.
There are four main themes of Viva that are enabled through Microsoft Teams, enabling employers and employees to communicate, enable knowledge sharing, and support wellness remotely.
- Connections: Organisations are now utilising Microsoft Teams to connect their employees with each other. Employees are informed about what’s happening across the organisation with a personalised news feed and dashboard about stories that truly matter to them – fostering a strong sense of belonging, building higher levels of engagement, and creating the space for employees to re-establish the human connections we all miss in the remote or hybrid workplace.
- Wellbeing: Achieving the right work-life balance is challenging while working from home. This aspect is particularly relevant and critical right now as more and more people focus on the importance of mental health and wellbeing. Using Microsoft Teams, Viva enables users to undertake a ‘virtual commute’ that helps break up the workday and encourages workers to disconnect, spend time with their families and be refreshed for work the next day. This same application can also call attention to behaviors that indicate potential burnout risk, empowering managers to reach out and support their team when they might be struggling. At Avanade, we take this a step further by implementing a tool that encourages nudge-based actions informed by employee insights, helping people take the right action at the right time and not overwork themselves.
- Learning: In a space and at a time where people are now inundated with overwhelming amounts of information, Microsoft Teams is making it easy for first-line workers to access learning, adopt a growth mindset and achieve an always-learning attitude. By making learning available in their natural flow-of-work, employees can access content easily across the myriad of learning management systems available in large organisations. Learning can be tailored to specific teams or projects, helping employees to grow and thrive in the new era of remote and hybrid work.
- Knowledge: Viva has a built-in knowledge capability that removes the onus from staff to manually surface and curate documents. This removes the stress of finding documents which, in a large organisation, can be a daunting task. Microsoft Teams’ AI capability takes on the role of finding the right data and putting it into a format that end-users will find useful, improving workflow and enriching the employee’s experience. For example, if a new-joiner has easy access to role-specific onboarding information, their learning process becomes simpler and more engaging.
All these features have come together to make Microsoft Teams the backbone of many companies’ digital strategies, enabling everything from simple communications to employee engagement, as well as greater learning and development. And the evolution isn’t finished. As time continues, we expect to see more engagement with Microsoft Teams and more impactful usage for the application by first line workers.