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Collaborate in Office 365

According to Atlassian, you’re probably going to spend about 31 hours in unproductive meetings this month. (It will probably feel way longer than that.) If you’re running a business, that should horrify you, which is why you should look closely at some of the lesser-known Office 365 apps to see how they can help you collaborate without booking another bloody meeting.

Skype for Business

I talked about this app back when it was called Lync, but the new name says everything you need to know. It’s Skype but, you know, for business.

Skype for Business can host meetings of up to 250 people, integrate with your office phone system and a lot of other great features, but the thing that’s saved us from countless ad hoc meetings is the internal instant messaging. Now, instead of booking a meeting or spending 5 minutes composing an email, I just send an IM via Skype. It’s less time consuming for me and doesn’t add another email to the pile for my colleague to deal with.

Yammer

Social media for business is an idea that immediately turns a lot of people off. I mean, nobody needs pictures of cafeteria lunches and political memes floating around the office, right?

They’re not wrong, but they’re also underestimating what a social platform can do when used for productive purposes. Posting a technical question to a project thread? Sharing the highlights of a client meeting? Sharing HR policies in a persistent public forum? All of those examples could save somebody from wasting another hour sitting around a conference table and none of them involve baby pictures. 

Co-Authoring Documents

Co-authoring - the ability for multiple people to work on a document in real time - has been around for a while for in Google Drive and debuted in Office 2013. It’s not commonly used outside of creative settings but since at least 30% of the meetings I attend are focused on “reviewing document X” there’s a massive potential to avoid meetings.

You can collaborate on Word, Excel and OneNote documents (just to name a few) and each user has 1TB of OneDrive storage (which can be easily backed up) with an Office 365 subscription. You can see who’s editing the document and leave comments. Combine that with the ability to send IM’s in Skype for Business and an entire team can review, edit and finalize a documents far more efficiently than if you’d gathered them all in a room for a group editing session.

The best thing about all of the products listed above is that they’re all bundled as a part of many Office 365 business subscriptions, which means you may already have access to them. If you do, you should talk to Prophet about getting them setup. If you don’t, it might be time to take a closer look at Office 365.

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