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There are numerous suites of apps that can improve your productivity. One of them is Office 365, which features an array of underappreciated tools.

Office 365 has helped millions of organizations streamline their operations. One of the most famous examples involves Kohler, the manufacturer of kitchen and bath fixtures and plumbing. 

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, they struggled to manage operations since most of their team had to work remotely. The company had to adjust its activities to stay true to its values. 

That’s where Office 365 came into play. 

It helped them deliver personalized training in a short period. Their employees gained access to curated podcasts, Q&A sessions, micro-learning videos, and renowned experts. All of which helped them become more comfortable with their new suite of apps. 

Over time, the platform also enabled them to overcome the limitations of cultures, languages, and time zones with different tools. 

For instance, they used Teams to mobilize professionals who shared insights into worldwide markets. Likewise, SharePoint facilitated the movement of over 400 terabytes of directories, expediting customer communication and support. The enterprise also enhanced its security and device deployment, creating a seamless culture of agility and productivity. 

It’s worth mentioning that Office 365 isn’t just suitable for large companies like Kohler. Any business leader can leverage this productivity suite to increase productivity. The reality is that many of these tools are underused and underappreciated. 

This article will highlight some of the top Office 365 tools you should consider implementing in your business. 

THE TOOLS

TOOL #1 – FLOW

Microsoft Flow enables you to automate your workflow across various applications. You can connect it to instant message and email alerts, synchronize files from different apps or copy them from one platform to another. 

For example, if you fill out a SharePoint form, you can use Flow to develop a lead in Dynamics 365. 

Best of all, the tool isn’t limited to Microsoft Services. It lets you extract data from Facebook or upload files to Dropbox. The result is higher productivity through improved connections. 

TOOL #2 – TEAMS

Teams is a meeting, sharing, and chatting hub for your team. This cloud-based platform combines notes, files, conferences, and several apps in real-time. 

The program has dramatically improved collaboration and productivity, bringing people, content, and conversations together into a single hub. It integrates effortlessly with Office 365 apps and features a secure global cloud. 

Another tremendous benefit is real-time communication. It lets all members watch edits in PowerPoint presentations, ensuring input from the entire team. Users can also provide feedback using the chat window to streamline productivity. 

In addition, Teams supports cross-platform cooperation, allowing you to work on your phone, tablet, or computer.

TOOL #3 – TO-DO

Microsoft To-Do is a smart task management platform that facilitates planning throughout your day. Not to mention it delivers a personalized and intuitive way to help users stay organized. 

It comes with a robust algorithm that lets you create lists for nearly anything, such as your home projects, work, and grocery shopping. 

Keeping track of reminders is effortless with To-Do. You can add reminders, notes, and due dates while personalizing them with vivid themes. Aside from viewing them on the web, these lists are also accessible on most devices, including Android phones, iPhones, and Windows 10 devices. 

TOOL #4 – MYANALYTICS

Although teams spend much of their time in meetings, talking on the phone, and sending emails, they still may not be very productive. To overcome this obstacle, Office 365 introduced MyAnalytics. 

This tool increases employee efficiency by analyzing two productivity factors: who users spend their time with and how they spend it. 

Using robust analytics, the tool suggests how you can be more productive by working less after-hours and reducing idle meeting time. There’s also AI that flags your Outlook commitments to remind you of your daily duties. 

MyAnalytics consists of four components: 

  • Digests – Your Outlook inbox stores weekly digests to highlight the previous week. 
  • Dashboard – The dashboard displays various statistics like productivity insights, work habits, and suggestions on improving them. 
  • Insights Outlook – This feature presents cards that show your work experience and allow you to respond in many ways. 
  • Inline Suggestions – These suggestions are available in your Outlook to help boost productivity.

Also, Microsoft considered your privacy when designing this tool. That’s why you’re the only one who can access your personal insights and data.

TOOL #5 – VIVA

Microsoft Viva is an employee experience platform that helps to improve learning, well being, and collaboration in the workplace. The tool consists of four modules: Viva Topics, Viva Connections, Viva Insights, and Viva Learning. 

Viva Topics gathers and organizes content and knowledge around any topic in a business using  Microsoft Graph and AI. 

Viva Connections works as a SharePoint app within Teams, allowing you to share curated news and articles with your employers.

Viva Insights provides insight into employees’ work patterns that can cause stress and burnout, such as meeting overload and regular after-hours work. The app enables managers to help their teams find a balance between well being and productivity.

Viva Learning is a learning hub in Teams that makes it easy for you to share learning content and training resources across your business.

TOOL #6 – DELVE

This is a nifty visualization tool that incorporates social media elements and social learning. It utilizes content from four platforms: Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer, and One Drive, 

However, it doesn’t aggregate your data points only. Instead, it detects relevant information like user activity and past interactions. 

TOOL #7 – SWAY

IMAGE SOURCE: https://sway.office.com/

Sway is a presentation app that might someday replace PowerPoint. It boasts an integrated design engine to produce appealing presentations and reports. 

Some of the features include dragging and dropping images, charts, videos, and canvas-based formats. The program can also produce newsletters and stories that can be viewed on various devices.

TOOL #8 – PLANNER

Microsoft Planner is an excellent choice for companies with team members all over the globe and multiple simultaneous projects. The tool can rapidly digitize your task management processes. 

It gives users access to visual organization tools and four key functions: information hub, insights, communication, and flexible categorizations. Also, it enables team members to share files, create plans, assign and assemble tasks, and converse with co-workers while receiving progress updates. 

REINVIGORATE YOUR BUSINESS’S WORK ENVIRONMENT

Taking your operations to new heights is all about creating an agile and productive workplace. And Office 365 can help you achieve this with a wide range of communication and collaboration tools. 

Whether your team works remotely or in-office, this suite of apps can dramatically improve project management. And Kohler’s example is proof of this.

That said, a subpar IT provider can impede your integration with Office 365. 

If you feel your vendor isn’t delivering the necessary results, give Databranch a call at 716-373-4467 x 15 or email us at: info@databranch.com.

We can schedule a quick chat and come up with the perfect solution to your business’s IT difficulties to save you from a lot of stress. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

IMAGE SOURCE: https://unsplash.com/photos/dpbXgTh0Lac

Increasing productivity in your business doesn’t just entail optimizing your equipment and sharpening your attention. Decluttering your computer desktop is also essential. 

A clutter-free office is paramount to improving your productivity. Piles of stationery on your desk can cause you to waste a lot of time searching for a critical document. As a result, you’re less likely to meet deadlines. 

Clutter can affect you in various indirect ways, too. 

It can dramatically reduce your cognitive abilities, impairing your decision-making and relationships with your team members. In addition, it can have an adverse effect on your anxiety, focus, sleep, and eating choices. All of these can reduce your workplace performance. 

However, this clutter problem doesn’t just affect your desk or office. 

Your computer desktop can also be cluttered. Disorganized folders and a lackluster display impact your productivity as much as physical clutter. To avoid this scenario, you need to declutter your computer as well.

This article will share seven tips on decluttering your computer desktop. 

THE 7 TIPS

TIP #1 – DEVELOP A FOLDER SYSTEM WITH FILE NAMING CONVENTIONS

The most important thing you should do to prevent clutter on your computer is set up an intuitive folder system. You can use several categories, such as file type or name, depending on what suits your research or work best. 

Regardless of your approach, be sure to choose well-established naming conventions that let you quickly navigate through your documents. The system should also be easy to use for many years to come, so consider your plans when creating it. 

You can place these folders in your file share tools (e.g., Google Drive and Dropbox), hard drive, or desktop if you back them up regularly. 

With a fully functional structure, you can bypass your desktop by simply downloading new documents to designated folders. Afterward, you can rapidly locate them with the search command on your computer. Type in the name of your folder, and you’ll reach the desired file within seconds. 

TIP #2 – MAKE YOUR DESKTOP ATTRACTIVE TO YOU

Besides making your computer desktop fully functional, you should also enhance its appeal. So, select a meaningful or beautiful background. It needs to be enjoyable to look at, motivating you to keep your computer tidy. 

To take the aesthetics to the next level, set gridded or lined images as the background to organize files that end up there more easily. 

Another great idea is to use a motivational background. Images with powerful messages encourage you to work harder and remain focused. This type of coaching also enables you to organize your desktop and stay on top of clutter. 

TIP #3 – CONSIDER SECTIONED DESKTOP WALLPAPER

Sectioned desktop wallpapers are a great way to enhance your desktop organization further. For instance, you can include a section for your vacation or pets. 

There are millions of wallpapers online that can help you declutter your desktop. They complement folder naming conventions to improve your workflow. 

TIP #4 – CONSOLIDATE YOUR MOST USED APPS/SOFTWARE

Having quick access to your most used programs or software is a must. It allows you to start working immediately without wasting time searching for apps. 

To consolidate efficiently, you should first determine which software matters most to you. Your portfolio may comprise two or three apps you use daily or an entire suite of programs that provide the necessary functionality. 

Once you’ve assembled your list, you may be able to merge multiple programs with a comprehensive solution. It puts them in one place to streamline your productivity. 

The taskbar is an effective alternative, as program icons are often responsible for the bulk of your clutter. Keeping the essential icons in the taskbar makes them quickly accessible since you won’t need to browse.

TIP #5 – DELETE OR RELOCATE UNUSED FILES

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After categorizing vital apps, you also need to address unused programs. Here’s a tip: if you can’t recall when you last used certain software, uninstall it. Do the same if you don’t think you’ll need a particular application for an upcoming project. 

Since this may be a hard decision, you may want to create a folder for these rarely used apps and files instead. Tuck them away until you figure out if you wish to proceed with the deletion. 

For this wait-and-see approach, you can make use of several folders, such as “miscellaneous” or “to be archived.” In doing so, you won’t accidentally uninstall or remove a crucial program. 

Now, if you take this approach, make sure to check the folders regularly. Determine which files and apps are no longer needed in your business and delete them to avoid clutter. 

To avoid falling behind with your cleaning, set a reminder on your calendar. It can be a monthly or weekly event, depending on your workload. 

TIP #6 – CATEGORIZE NEW CONTENT

Dumping new files and programs onto your desktop may be tempting if you’re in a hurry. However, this method is ill-advised because it inhibits your organization. 

Try to allocate a few minutes to organize all new apps and files appropriately, according to your naming conventions. A quick way to do so is to use automatic file sorting by date or alphabetically. It doesn’t take long, yet it can significantly reduce clutter on your computer. 

TIP #7 – EMPLOY FENCES

Digital fences group files in specific regions of your desktop to make them more visually accessible. This method works much better than burying all your files in one or two folders. Plus, many people consider it more user-friendly than gridded backgrounds. 

For example, the Stacks feature automatically categorizes content by type or any other specific feature. It’s available for free on Macs with Mojave. 

Likewise, PCs have a similar feature called Fences. It enables you to designate and move fences around the desktop for improved maneuverability. The only downside to this is that it’s not free. 

DON’T LET CLUTTER GET OUT OF HAND

Decluttering your computer desktop is one of the best ways to advance your productivity. 

Once you’ve organized it appropriately, you’ll be able to find the necessary files and programs effortlessly. You’ll then feel rejuvenated, and your mood may improve dramatically, allowing you to overcome mental obstacles during your workday. 

It might take some time to optimize your desktop, but it’ll be well worth it. 

You can also assign this job to your IT provider. However, they may not understand your needs and that of your business correctly, and their services might be insufficient. 

In that case, let’s have a 10-15-minute chat and see if Databranch can resolve your problem. Give us a call at 716-373-4467 x 15 and we’ll do all we can to help you increase office productivity in your business.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.