Published March 17, 2020
The Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the effects are becoming evident across all aspects of our lives here in the UK and across the world.
Industry and businesses are now facing unexpected challenges. To protect the health of staff, and their families, many businesses are actively considering how they can aid and enable their employees to work effectively and efficiently at home.
If staff need to stay at home, how can they keep in touch with each other, access and share documents, spreadsheets and files so that they can continue to work effectively? Although we had planned for people to work from home this had to be quickly brought forward when the Prime Minister announced a lockdown and said people should work from home if possible. Thankfully the use of Office 365 and a VoIP phone system came into its own and we continued with business as usual from the next morning, but with people working from home. This was particularly impressive as workload over those few days was running at over twice the normal levels.
Microsoft’s Office 365 software suite provides a number of collaboration and productivity applications tools and solutions to enable and assist productive remote working.
Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration.
Teams enables employees to stay in touch wherever they are using constant chat, as well as audio and video meetings. You can also share your screen so can easily collaborate on any documents you are working on.
Teams really came into its own when we started to work from home. Collaboration continued pretty much as normal but using chat rather than talking to people across the desk. Meetings were video calls rather than face to face, but they continued as normal. The blur background feature in Teams video is very useful and hides things that you don’t want people to see in the background.
SharePoint allows documents to be stored in the cloud so staff can access and work on them at home as well as in the office.
PowerApps enables the conversion of paper documents and forms into digital versions so that there is no longer a need to be in the office to get a physical copy of the form to complete, once the digital form is complete the office is automatically updated.
Power Automate allows workflows to be automated so when a form is completed, the relevant staff are alerted. This helps to ensure that there is no reduction in efficiency because people are not working in the same location.
We use a lot of Office 365 systems and these simply transferred to our new situation. Our workflows are run by PowerAutomate so these just continued making sure no deadlines were missed. And documents are stored in SharePoint, so again working from home made little difference to what we do.
We have always said Using Office 365 can enable businesses, employees and clients to remain connected, informed and able to work more effectively from any location, particularly during any protracted periods of remote working and self-isolation. The Covid-19 outbreak has proven for us that this does work and you can just as easily work remotely.
UK Government guidance for employees, employers and business in regarding to Covid-19.
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Published March 17, 2020