Why the modern workforce needs Microsoft Teams

Why the modern workforce needs Microsoft Teams

Things are constantly changing. And you need technology that unifies you. Something that's uniform, user-friendly and easily-yet-safely-accessible.

Calling in Microsoft Teams!

Work from anywhere

The single-office concept is becoming obsolete. Sixty-three percent of companies have remote workers, and 55 percent of hiring managers expect that number to grow.

Microsoft Teams puts you all face-to-face in one room with its seamless videoconferencing features. While email and other programs can keep you connected on the housekeeping side, the face-to-face -- albeit virtual -- interaction is key for morale, interpersonal workplace connectivity and productive discussions.

With multiple dial-in options, Microsoft Teams videoconferencing reduces communication and geographical barriers.

Enable multi-generational collaboration

Get this - by 2020, people from FIVE different generations will make up the workforce. While having each one represented within your own business can give you a competitive edge, it doesn't come without challenges.

But Microsoft Teams can simultaneously cater to each generation, by providing a hub to let employees work the way they want. The biggest difference among generations is communication preference and expectations, so Teams makes it easy to foster all forms - phone, face-to-face, email, video conference, or collaborative document sharing.

Maximize mobile work

We don't need to tell you the office space has transcended the desktop. But what's happening now - is that mobile work is becoming much more of a priority, than something extra.

As this continues, employees will need a familiar, connected experience across their mobile devices. Microsoft Teams brings all that together by extending the collaboration and communication experiences from the office naturally to those mobile devices. So teams can still work together on-the-go, and while miles apart. The Teams mobile up lets you join calls and meetings, share content, control presentations, reply to chats and conversations and transfer calls and check remote voicemail.

Communicate effectively with outside partners/contractors

Another number for you. Freelancers are expected to make up the majority of the workforce within the next ten years.

So you'll need Microsoft Teams to keep them active members of your own team.

But there's an extra step with freelancers - while they are on your team, there's still a boundary that needs to be set, for cyber security purposes. Teams takes care of that behind the scenes, though, with the guest access feature.  So working across corporate boundaries - both for the freelancer and your full-time employees - is easy and highly secure.
And if there's a problem - IT can quickly remove guest access.

Engage with a larger team

High engagement = high productivity. BUT - 87 percent of employees are NOT engaged at work? That's essentially an untapped market for potential growth.
Morale is huge. And yes, that's something that needs to be fostered outside of the digital world, but Microsoft Teams can help remind you how important that is. Teams has features that keeps workers engaged, but also gives them the flexibility to collaborate the way they want.

As you can imagine, this gets trickier the bigger the company is. One-to-many communications are a breeze with Teams "Live Events." It takes top-down communication out of the stiff and stale corporate video conference. There are engagement opportunities before, during, and after the event - so everyone is involved.


Productivity Hacks – brought to you by Microsoft

Your job is your livelihood, but no matter how passionate you are about it – it’s important that’s not your life. Here are some Microsoft-bred tips on how to make the most out of your work day, and keep your mind right outside the office.

Set daily goals

We’re in the era of a constant to-do list. Long term. Short term. At work. At home. But staring at 87 bullet points of things you need to accomplish isn’t going to give you anything more than a headache. But if you prioritize those 87 things, you’ll be in much better shape.

Find out what can wait – but don’t be lazy about it! If you can get it done within 20 minutes, do it that day. Long term project? Find a PIECE that can get done today. Lots to do at home? Again – the 20 minute goal is a good one. Often times we don’t realize a lot of the things we have to do may only actually take 10 minutes.

If you map things out this way, you’ll actually be able to cross things off your list, instead of having them hang over your head.

Set deadlines and hold yourself accountable

This goes hand-in-hand with point one. This one focuses more on the execution of conquering your to-do list – and it’s a bit more solely work-related.

Microsoft has a tool to be your built-in-accountability holder:  Microsoft Project. It allows you to maintain a calendar with multiple moving parts. It also lets you assign deadlines to projects, meetings and tasks – so you’re notified when you’re getting off track.

View Microsoft Project

Take time to save time

Data entry. Standardized emails. Both essentially synonyms for “tedious” and “*groans*” for those who this manually. But you can actually streamline this process. It’ll take time to set up initially – but it will save you time in the future.

If you’re entering data into multiple spreadsheets, set up macros that can do that work for you. Macros can also help automate email responses.

Create or Run Macros

Batch your small tasks

This one is great when it comes to making sure your day has a productive flow. Think about the things you do throughout your work day – i.e. sending emails, scheduling meeting, updating your website, etc. These things inherently don’t take a lot of time, but if you stretch them out while doing more long-winded products, they might. So instead, set aside a chunk of time to get them all done at once.

Separation of home and office

Nowadays, far easier said than done. But it’s essential. And it prevents burnout. According to multiple studies, you need some sort of down time every day to keep your mind right. Work will likely take up most of your day (especially for those of you reading this), and that’s OK. And it’s great that you’re so connected to what you do. But give that connectivity a time limit. When you’re home with your family, be with your family. Working out before work? Be present in your workout. On vacation? Put all your devices on “Do Not Disturb.” Giving your mind a clear break = more clarity when you get back into work mode.

Only say “yes” to meetings that matter

Aiii, what? Don’t all meetings matter? No. If it’s not organized well or does not have a clear purpose – you don’t have time for it! Make sure you know exactly why you’re included in a meeting before you attend, so you can ensure you’re not wasting your time.

Regarding meetings in general, best practices say make sure there’s a “hard” stop time, and ensure everyone is prepared with a specific agenda before you get started.

Take workout breaks

Physical activity = more productivity! It doesn’t have to be crazy, we know you don’t have time to go take a spin class/shower/change your clothes during your lunch break. But if your office is flexible enough and you have the resources, take a short run or get some cardio in during the day. Still unrealistic? A walk outside. Live somewhere to cold? Be sure to get up and walk around the office.

 


Breaking down the differences between SharePoint Online and Google Drive

Breaking down the differences between SharePoint Online and Google Drive

Differences between SharePoint Online and Google Drive

 

As businesses themselves evolve, so does the technology that keeps them going behind the scenes. We know there are a lot of options out there.

SharePoint and Google Drive currently control the market. Both file management platforms are similar at their cores. Users can manage Word, Outlook, Excel and other documents through both platforms. Both use the cloud. Both are user friendly.

Here’s why we think SharePoint goes the extra mile for you.

Functionality

One of the starkest difference between the two platforms is how much more convenient it is to group-edit a document in SharePoint. It allows users to edit documents right there within the program, whereas Google Drive requires you to upload the document to edit it and download it as a Microsoft document when it’s done. An extra step that can inhibit workflow.

Collaboration Simplicity

SharePoint offers automated workflows. That means all edits, feedback, thoughts and approval-granting can all happen on one organized interface. That’s a helpful tool inherently, and it also paves the way for the most experienced of users to manage more complex environments like building websites, managing training sessions and finalizing forms.

SharePoint's Additional Features

And here’s where SharePoint takes its services to an even elevated level, content management: List. It’s a feature that’s not available on Google Drive. The List feature allows you to organize portions of your data by separating them out into their own section within an Excel file. This is helpful and primarily used for things like managing expenses and creating tax reports. Other benefits include the ability to manage contacts and clients, tracking project tasks and projecting data.

And, as always, 6th Street Consulting can help you get started, so you can be a master of SharePoint – and, in turn, a master of your expedient workflow – in no time.


How do you defend against cyber attacks?

6th Street Consulting can show you how with SharePoint and Microsoft 365.

 

If you are connected to the internet, you are subjected to cyber attacks. from all angles. Dramatic? Maybe, but rooted in a digital reality. A digital reality that’s in need of a multifaceted defense system like Microsoft 365 Business. Protecting your data from external threats 365 days a year – on a 360 degree angle.

And as you gear up for this always-on-the-defensive cyber battle, look to us here at 6th Street Consulting as your lead commander. The go-to that can help channel the right functions of SharePoint and Microsoft 365 to your success.

Your business, in essence, is kind of like your battlefield. With the exception of the fact, of course, that you’re not on the attack. But you ARE navigating to enemy digital territory when you share your sensitive data. Lucky for you, we’ve been in the trenches for years. And we know how to protect that data as you take it where it needs to go.

SharePoint allows your business to manage information, data, and applications seamlessly and effortlessly while connecting users across the organization. Which is what you need to capitalize on day-to-day productivity. Think of that as your “offensive” war strategy. It’s the calculated moves you make to advance. Microsoft 365 has you covered on the “defensive” strategy, proactively working to protect you from external threats, internal leaks, accidental breaches, as well as anything caused by human error.

The best thing about Microsoft 365 – it’s not a blanket security system. It’s tailored to the specific needs of your business, and we can help you navigate that artillery plan.

Encrypting mobile devices, being able to wipe clean stolen assets (such as laptops), removing phishing/ransomware links from emails, as well as require additional authentication to access your business data can all be done with Microsoft 365. What’s the best for you? Tell us.

Microsoft 365 is your shield. Laptop stolen? We can wipe it clean. Worried about breaches in multiple remote mobile devices? We’ll encrypt them. Getting spam emails? We’ll make sure they don’t come back, and that you don’t enable any phishing or ransomware links. Something new hitting ya that you’re not quite sure about? Even if we haven’t seen it before – M365 will adapt, and defend.

6th Street Consulting employs an army of resources to combat data breaches and educate businesses, so you can better protect your company. Let us help you get there today.


The problems with multiple apps and the need for a unified suite

The Problems with Multiple Apps and the Need for a Unified Suite

The Problems with Multiple Apps and the Need for a Unified Suite

Work is hard enough. Fragmented solutions just create an even bigger headache. It’s really difficult to truly be collaborative without a unified suite. Without one, that means multiple apps, too many passwords, different interfaces to learn, and too many places to store files. Not only can that make things less efficient, but it can also put your information at risk, as all files are not always stored securely.

Disparate platforms also create struggles for your IT systems. And if you lose one of your passwords, there’s not much they can do while still keeping your company’s information secure. And sometimes, IT can’t even support all of the apps you may be asking your employees to use.

With so many possibilities out there, workplaces often fall into the trap of just getting more apps to support work systems. Yes, variety is good. But it also means there’s more room for inconsistencies.

Picture this: you want to be on an online conference call. You make the call with one app, the person you’re trying to reach uses a different app. You spend 10 minutes deciding what app works best for both of you. Another 20 getting set up with said app. And likely another 15 making sure you’re still reaching the right person. That’s 45 minutes of time that could be spent actually talking, not behind the scenes.

Here’s another one. A project manager saves an important file, then leaves on vacation. The team doesn’t know where it is, and you can’t get ahold of him or her. Now you’re stuck poring through email threads where it could possibly be hiding out. And there’s not a 100 percent guarantee you’ll even find it.

Office 365 makes collaboration easy for people and secure for businesses. It’s a connected and easy interface of tools that helps teams get things done together. Inside one platform, you can communicate, save files and collaborate, without having to worry about where to find things and how to get ahold of people.


SharePoint Spaces Bring Immersive, Mixed Reality Experiences to Anyone, on Any Device

SharePoint Spaces Bring Immersive, Mixed Reality Experiences to Anyone, on Any Device

Mixed reality is one of the most important technological trends in the modern workplace, with the power to transform work for everyone, from the executive suite to the front line. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced two powerful mixed reality applications: Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout.

SharePoint spaces allows for immersive, mixed reality experiences—which enable you to view and interact with content from every angle and visualize and manipulate data and product models in real-time. SharePoint mainstreams mixed reality, empowering everyone to create visually compelling spaces that are available to anyone, on any device.

Mixed reality experiences immerse you, focus your attention, engage your senses, and spark your curiosity and imagination to unlock new scenarios for communication, learning, and collaboration, including:

Recruiting and onboarding​—Recruits or new employees can learn about a company in a compelling, 360-degree virtual welcome and orientation, including a 360-degree video message from leadership. They can navigate the campus or building with 3D maps, learn the organizational structure with an interactive organization chart, or explore rich information about coworkers and the organization’s products.

LearningWith mixed reality, learning comes to life by captivating your focus and attention. Gain broad perspective with a panoramic view of a topic and learning objectives. Then explore personalized, relevant, and dynamic content. Ignite your curiosity by discovering new insights, and dive deep into topics that matter to you. Learn not just by reading or watching, but by experiencing, with your senses engaged.

Product developmentCreate an inspiring space for your team to spark innovation. Surround yourself with experts to look at data, content, and processes from every angle. Explore a prototype in 3D to identify new opportunities, attach annotations, and visualize improvements.

Until now, it has been prohibitively expensive and complex to develop customized mixed reality apps to address these and other business scenarios, and to make mixed reality apps broadly accessible in the workplace, because most require costly headsets.

SharePoint spaces empower creators to build immersive experiences with point-and-click simplicity. You can get started with smart templates to create a mixed reality environment complete with beautiful surroundings, ambient sounds, rich textures, and lighting. You then add content, which can include files you already have in SharePoint, allowing you to repurpose your existing data, documents, and images. Our customers already store over a petabyte of 3D content, including 360-degree videos created with mobile phones. SharePoint spaces are the most natural way to view and interact with 3D content, empowering people to interact with objects that might be too numerous, too large, or too dynamic to experience in the real world or in a two-dimensional environment.

This animated gif demonstrates how authors can add web parts to a SharePoint space.

Authors use familiar skills to add web parts to a SharePoint space.

Anyone can immerse themselves in a compelling virtual space to view and interact with content, information, and video on any device—in a browser, mobile browser, or headset. SharePoint spaces will be available in all Office 365 commercial plans, enabling new scenarios for information workers and Firstline Workers alike.

SharePoint spaces are infused with Microsoft AI, unlocking knowledge from Microsoft Graph and driving rich, personalized experiences that let you explore connections between people and content, gain insights from data, and find relevant information and expertise.

SharePoint spaces are integrated and extensible. You can augment a space with content from across Microsoft 365 and from other data sources and services. You can customize a space to reflect your brand. And you can build new capabilities for SharePoint spaces with the SharePoint Framework. We expect partners to embrace SharePoint spaces and to develop powerful web parts and experiences that will drive a new wave of innovation for customers.

SharePoint is the first unified content collaboration and services solution to span files, websites and, soon, mixed reality spaces. Customers and partners can apply to be part of an early, limited preview by visiting SharePoint spaces.


Getting Down To Business with Microsoft 365 Business

Getting Down to Business

Getting down to business

The success is in the name: Microsoft 365 Business. Emphasis on business. It’s a hybrid of Windows 10 and Office 365, so you have the security and innovation of the former and the user-friendly function of the latter.

So if you’re in the small-to-medium business range, here’s how it can work for you. Whether you’re getting started, expanding, or just grinding away with the day-to-day, you’re going to want your software to focus on the busy work for you, so you can focus on more important things like your product, your customer and your creativity. Microsoft 365 Business utilizes streamlined maintenance and management capabilities to make those tasks easier, so can work on the big-picture facets of growing your business.

Just like the rest of the Microsoft products we share with you, data security is still top of focus. As is employee productivity. What do we mean by employee productivity? Simplifying online and mobile work movements so people can spend less time fussing and more time – again – on the big picture of the work they’re doing.

Don’t have Office 365 yet? That’s OK – we can get you all set up! And if you DO have it already, it’s an even easier add!

And remember, we’re a business, who knows how to use this business tool, to help your business.


Keeping Connected On the Go

Keeping Connected On the Go

Take your intranet with you to stay connected and informed about important content, news, sites and people while on the go – for those in-between moments. You can easily get back to what’s relevant to you, alongside powerful search capabilities to find what you need, plus provide feedback via comments and likes – all to keep work moving forward.

Microsoft released their latest round of mobile innovations – all driven by customer use and feedback. This is the most significant update they’ve ever done to SharePoint mobile apps. They’ve simplified the apps to help people focus on the tasks they’ve told us they engage daily. This improved information architecture to make it fast and easy to find and work with the people and content you are looking for.

  • A new Find tab – What was three is now one, and it’s a super powerful, personal tab infused with AI. The new Find tab makes it the easiest way ever to connect with expertise and knowledge across your organization. It brings a best-in-class mobile search experience, with an intelligent understanding of what you work on, how you work, and how your colleagues’ work relates to you. The new Find tab collapses Sites, Links, People and Search into one, streamlined experience. It, too, is where you will find quick answers, notifications, sites, people and more – in an efficient, tailored flow of what you’re looking for, even before you go looking.

The Find tab, coming to the SharePoint mobile app, uses AI to help you find people, content, and answers to your questions while on the go.

  • Direct document library access – as you tap into a SharePoint document library, you will stay within the SharePoint mobile app experience (for viewing and navigating) more before taken through the integrated connection to the OneDrive app - where you can perform richer actions on files and folders.
  • @mentions in comments – the same as mentioned above applies to @mentions in comments via the SharePoint mobile app; like Outlook, it is now possible to @mention someone within the comments of a SharePoint news article and that person will be notified and brought into the discussion.
  • Notifications for page likes – you’ll receive a notification when someone clicks the Like button on a news article you published. How do you like that? If you do like it, you’ll be notified 😉.

 

6th Street Consulting is a Microsoft technology firm specializing in user productivity and collaboration on SharePoint and Office365.  Our biggest differentiator is we put business before technology in creating solutions tailored fit to your organization.

For additional information please contact:

Michelle Hollis

michelle.hollis@6sc.com

(310) 694-3844


The Evolution of SharePoint Hub Sites and Communication Sites

The Evolution of SharePoint Hub Sites and Communication Sites

Hub sites and communication sites offer rich experiences across your intranet. As business goals and team structures evolve, so too must your sites and the content that lives within them. We continue to add functionality to make it easier to create and configure any sites intent and outcome that you need throughout your intranet.

  • Add rich colors to the hub site header – you will now have choices beyond the color white. It’ll be easier and more flexible to adhere to your preferred company theme and brand colors across more aspects of the sites and pages.
  • Approvals for hub site association – a flexible approval process further empowers hub site owners and site owners to make requests and programmatically adapt to changes within their growing, dynamic intranet.
  • Site scripting during hub site association – once a site gets associated to a hub site, it not only inherits the theme of the hub site, it can now be further configured using powerful site scripting methods to enforce permissions, shared metadata, preferred content management, brand elements and policies.

Program site scripts to run automatically when a site is associated to a hub site to adhere to preferences for that family of sites.

  • Communication sites on-premises in SharePoint Server 2019 – like the benefits of “going modern” on-premises with team sites, SharePoint communication sites can be created and configured within SharePoint Server 2019.

New and updated web parts. Sites pull in content from across Office 365. To do this dynamically, and with flexibility, SharePoint news articles and pages use powerful, data-rich web parts, which you can configure to your needs as you design the look, feel and content of the information you share.

  • Weather – allow authors to configure showing the web part to show weather information provided by MSN Weather for a given location.

You can now add the weather of any city to a page, and text overlay for images on your pages and news.

  • Image web part: text on image – enhance your images with hyperlinks and allow authors to overlay text on images.
  • Document library and lists web parts updates – It’s even easier to engage with documents and lists on a modern page with tile view and drag and drop upload. Now with custom views, grouping, sorting, filtering, column formatting, and drag & drop upload.
  • Stream updates – no matter where you view a news article or page, you can expect that videos playing from Stream will look and playback beautifully – even when you are viewing them within the SharePoint mobile app. There, too, are channel improvements to help view and playback a complete set of videos in the context of your site or news article.
  • Yammer updates – when you add a Yammer web part to a site home page or a news article, you can better able the preferred scoping of the groups that can be scoped to that site. We’ve also updated the interface to enhance how people can engage in the discussion – with richer feed with interactions like liking, @mentioning, adding content, and more.

We encourage you to build out and organize your intranet. Establish the sites you need and ensure your users can create the sites they need. Once established, associate them to hub sites to organize related sites and projects. As you progress year over year, keep creating and sharing dynamic, data-rich news articles.


Organizational News and Communication Site Updates

Inform and engage with rich, engaging organizational news and communication site updates

 

SharePoint powers your intranet to better promote and organize people, content and activities throughout your connected workplace. The sites that you create – of all types – are at the center. You create sites in seconds, and they are mobile ready from the get-go. They support various scenarios like internal cross-company campaigns, product launches, events and more. As you grow, your intranet evolves as an immersive, business-critical asset for the company.

Organizational news + team news. Open, transparent communication is critical to employee engagement. For nearly two decades, employee communications have centered on company-wide emails. Now, you can communicate your message with rich, compelling, and interactive content including documents, video, polls and surveys -- dynamic data dashboards.

Today, we’re excited to share how news evolves to ensure your message lands with users—across devices, geographies, and time zones. You can engage your audience about important efforts in a more-targeted fashion.

  • Select which site sources you want to pull content in from – news web parts filter news from a variety of source sites, filtering based on content you want to show, in the layout you find most conducive to your overall site vision.
  • Hub site news web part update – the unique ‘hub layout’ in the news web part for SharePoint hub sites will provide additional capabilities like pinning news articles, a new compact layout, and carousel support. 

Choose from a new variety of news layouts to best promote your news on your pages.

  • Save for later – you can now save news articles to catch up on later, right from the Web interface of your intranet - as you can today on mobile. Simply click Save for later from the bottom of the news article and it gets added to your saved list, accessible from the Me tab in the SharePoint mobile app. You will also be able to access your saved list from SharePoint home.

Now you will be able to save pages and news to read later, right from the Web interface. Click "Save for later" at the bottom of any page or news article.

  • @mentions in news comments – similar to Outlook, it is now possible to @mention someone who has access to the news article within its comments and they will be notified and brought into the discussion. Did we @mention to you that there’s no easier way to loop someone in? 😉
  • Deem specific sites as “organizational news sources” – as news rolls up to people across their SharePoint home in Office 365, or via the news tab in their SharePoint mobile all, the news that comes from “organizational news source” sites will get special visual treatment bubbling up to the top of one’s view.

Page management updates. The balance of a modern intranet rests in between the dynamic display of information and the ability to better curate and target who can see what – all without customization and without page proliferation. With this coming innovation, communication sites are ready to tackle your most demanding portal scenarios.