The Traditional Workplace

You’re sitting at your desk, you’re busy, with lots to do and thinking that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

There’s a loud conversation taking place a few desks away across the open space office, about the disappointing Games of Thrones finale or something else – equally as distracting and before you know it, you’ve lost track of your to-do list(s) and there’s chaos.

According to the Udemy In Depth: 2018 Workplace Distraction Report, the problem is getting worse and as a consequence focus is becoming as elusive as the Unicorn. The Udemy report also states:

“There’s a direct connection between staying focused and productive and being an engaged employee.”

Distractions aside, the chances are that you’re also using a disparate combination of Microsoft Office (Excel, Outlook, Paint) and freeware solutions such as Trello or even a quill ink pen & paper to list and manage anything from simple action lists, tasks to large scale projects and programmes.

As a result, work tracking, progress updates and reporting all become quite labour intensive and tedious activities. The objective should be to work-less and do more.

Whilst all I can personally recommend to avoid distractions in the workplace is to invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and to set your Teams status to DO NOT DISTURB, I can highlight how you could help maintain focus by modernising your workplace through technology, to enable you to get a better grip of your own and your teams’ workloads, to “bring order to chaos” (Borg Queen; Star Trek: First Contact).

What’s great is that you may ALREADY have access to the solutions I’m about to highlight if you have any of the following plans:

  • Office 365 Enterprise E1–E5
  • Business Essentials, Premium
  • OR Education subscription

The Modern Workplace uses The Right Tools

Whilst I’ve often highlighted the benefits of using Microsoft Project Online as an Enterprise PPM Solution, to help manage project portfolios – it should be recognised that work is taking place throughout the organisation, and at all levels.

This smaller work and BAU activity needs to be captured, tracked and managed effectively. To support this, and the multi-generational workforce within the modern workplace a range of solutions exist within Office 365, including:

  • To-Do
  • Planner
  • Teams

I’m going to introduce the solutions to you at a high-level to showcase the general idea, and to highlight how you can get access – license permitting. We’ll be publishing deep dives and use case scenarios for both Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Teams in the near future to demonstrate how you can truly modernise and connect the workplace through Office 365.

Microsoft To-Do

To-Do is FREE, easy to use and good-looking! Microsoft To-Do has essentially replaced Wunderlist which Microsoft acquired a few years ago and it’s available within Office 365. In a nutshell it helps you manage, prioritise, and complete the most important things you need to achieve every day, powered by Office 365 integration.

It helps you to focus by providing intelligent suggestions using To-Do’s smart algorithm and by logging in to the same Microsoft account you can sync your To-Do’s to Outlook tasks.

Screenshot of task list from Microsoft To-Do

You can access To-Do via the browser, as a desktop client and as a mobile app across IOS and Android devices.

I can see this becoming the de facto task list within Office 365, aggregating ALL your tasks from a variety of solutions in to a single, focused list. Keep an eye on what’s new in Microsoft To-Do.

Microsoft Planner

Launched in 2016, Planner is an easy to use work / task management solution that provides a colourful, interactive UI consisting of Cards and Kanban style Boards, making it very intuitive and straight-forward to use for teams.

Users can create new plans, organise and assign tasks, share files, chat, collaborate and get updates on progress. You can also integrate Planner with Microsoft Project Desktop, through which Microsoft Planner lets you connect Project tasks to a Planner plan and track detailed work in Planner.

Welcome Screen in Microsoft Planner - Part of Office 365

Each time a new plan is created, the members that are added form an Office 365 Group so you can control access and you can also invite people who aren’t part of your Office 365 organisation to participate in a plan, although guest users will have limited functionality but can do the essentials.

Similarly to Microsoft To-Do and virtually every other Office 365 solution, You can access Planner via the browser, and as a mobile app across IOS and Android devices.

Keep an eye on what’s new in Microsoft Planner.

Microsoft Teams

Launched in 2017, Microsoft Teams is simply the hub for teamwork in Office 365 and the successor to Skype for Business and quite simply the fasted growing app from Microsoft!

Building on what was available in Skype, Teams brings everything together in a shared work space where you can chat, meet, share files, and work with other business apps which is incredibly powerful.

Screenshot from Microsoft Teams - conference call & conversations tab

Teams is like glue, it brings everything together and provides users a unified view through a single portal, rather than having to open multiple windows across a dozen apps.

As standard, many organisations are now creating Teams Channels devoted to a specific topic, programme, project or department. Channels is where the work takes place, where text, audio, and video conversations open to the whole team, where files are shared, and where apps (i.e. Project Online, SharePoint and Power BI) are added to provide a focused, all-encompassing view.

You can access Teams via the browser, as a desktop client and as a mobile app across IOS and Android devices.

Keep an eye on what’s new in Microsoft Teams.

By Baz Khinda – Commercial Director, Wellingtone PPM