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Get past productivity paranoia with new tools in Microsoft Viva

Remote work with distant employee network.
Image: VectorMine/Adobe Stock

The newest Microsoft Work Trend Index reveals that the tales you’ve heard about navigating the transfer to hybrid working aren’t simply anecdotes. “People are working more than ever, and 87% of them feel they’re productive,” Sunita Khatri, senior director on Microsoft Viva informed TechRepublic. But nearly as many managers (85%) say they aren’t assured these workers actually are being productive, and so they resort to monitoring trivial issues like who makes use of their badge to get into the workplace, how lengthy apps are open and even what number of keystrokes workers make.

SEE: Hybrid work coverage (TechRepublic Premium)

Productive, paranoid or pressured

If they’re monitoring the variety of conferences, that’s nonetheless rocketing up. The variety of conferences per week has gone up 153% for Microsoft Teams customers because the begin of the pandemic, being double booked for conferences is 46% extra widespread in the final yr, and whereas persons are accepting only some extra conferences (3%), they’re declining or marking many extra as tentative (up by 84% and 216%, respectively, in the final two years).

Employees need the flexibleness of hybrid working but in addition assist from their managers on prioritizing their work: Only 31% say they get that clearly sufficient – and solely 1 / 4 of managers get that assist prioritising their very own work from senior workers.

Knowing what their work priorities are and realizing that their suggestions is listened to makes individuals more likely to remain in a job. Prioritization means “helping them focus on the work that’s most important, the work that ladders up to what’s important for the company: what the company cares about but also what they care about for their career well-being.”

That’s particularly vital as about half of managers and workers alike say they’re burned out, so prioritizing has to incorporate telling them what they’ll cease doing to unencumber time for what issues.

SEE: Employee targets coverage (TechRepublic Premium)

Meanwhile, managers crave the familiarity of an workplace the place they might see individuals at their desks: about half say they wrestle to belief hybrid workers are doing their finest work and have much less visibility into what they’re engaged on, ensuing in a worrying mixture of what Microsoft phrases “productivity paranoia” by suspicious managers and “productivity theatre” by workers who really feel they should waste time proving they’re exhausting at work.

“Employers and employees are at a divide,” Khatri warned. “Employees have come to embrace flexible work and have moved away from that nine to five culture. At the same time, we’re also seeing leaders yearn for that 2019 office life and to add to the mix, we’re in one of the strangest recessions the world has ever seen.”

Inflation is up, budgets are down, some organizations have hiring freezes, however it may nonetheless be exhausting to rent proficient individuals, she famous. “Even in this uncertain economic outlook, with the headwinds that are ahead of us, I do think that there are still people considering things like job hopping, the creator economy or side hustles as a means to figuring out, ‘where does my career well-being lie?’”

“Hybrid work has reached a critical point, and it’s putting pressure on the employee-employer relationship,” Khatri mentioned.

Hybrid work is simply work

Organizations that actually need workers again in the workplace should do greater than set a “back to your desk” coverage. “When people do come into the office, and the office environment, they come in for each other,” Khatri identified. “Based on who’s going in, if I know someone else is going in, then maybe I’ll go in too. You have to give people a good reason, beyond policy, to go into the office.”

SEE: 250+ ideas for telecommuting and managing distant employees (TechRepublic Premium)

Workers with managers who’re open and supportive are extra seemingly to enter the workplace to have conferences with them and barely extra prone to spend extra days in the workplace general. “Retention is linked to [having] connections with colleagues, with [the company] vision, with leadership,” Khatri instructed.

Even so, distant and hybrid work is right here to remain, so organizations must get it proper. Khatri mentioned, “We have to recognise that the office isn’t the only answer. But distributed work has led many people feeling isolated from organizational culture and values, and this is where leaders and companies have an opportunity to really connect people no matter where they work from.”

Tools for enhancing the worker expertise are what Viva is designed to ship; that covers HR tools and advantages, coaching, growth and worker well-being, and efficient communications are key to most of that.

Viva Pulse guides managers through creating employee feedback surveys (non-looping GIF).
Image: Microsoft. Viva Pulse guides managers via creating worker suggestions surveys (non-looping GIF).

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index analysis reveals that half of firms not often or by no means acquire workers’ suggestions about what it’s prefer to work for them; Viva Pulse is a new device for accumulating and managing suggestions. Khatri described Viva Pulse as “a new way for managers to be able to seek regular confidential feedback from their teams, on their experience on what’s working, what’s not working, and most importantly, create trust with their teams by bringing those anonymized trends and suggestions into team conversations.”

Instead of quick polls, Viva Pulse is for getting structured feedback from employees.
Image: Microsoft. Instead of fast polls, Viva Pulse is for getting structured suggestions from workers.

This isn’t the type of impromptu ballot you’d use in a Microsoft Teams chat to determine whether or not the subsequent staff occasion needs to be a celebration or volunteering for a charity. Templates information managers to ask in regards to the affect of adjustments at work, how nicely a staff works collectively, how pleased or burned out persons are feeling, with out main questions that may stress individuals into saying what they suppose their boss needs to listen to. Feedback is anonymised, and slightly than particular person replies, managers can have a look at tendencies and patterns. Managers even get homework with strategies for coaching they’ll take to handle higher, in addition to instructed actions to take with their staff.

Pulse is designed to work alongside the new Viva Goals module that helps join what workers are informed to work on with what the corporate says its targets are every quarter, so it’s clear what priorities needs to be.

Viva Goals now integrates with Azure DevOps, Power BI and Microsoft Project and Planner for monitoring work gadgets and outcomes that feed into OKRs, so managers can see what message they’re sending to workers and the way that’s affecting the work they do in addition to how they really feel about their work. This provides managers a solution to get away from productivity theatre and paranoia to measuring what they really care about.

Amplify and have interaction

Microsoft is including much more methods for leaders and managers to speak with workers, with the new Viva Amplify device for sharing official firm communications from executives and HR, which incorporates tools to assist communications groups write and publish in addition to metrics for monitoring how extensively these are seen. Khatri calls it a back-end service for worker communications groups.

Viva Amplify is for making sure the right people see important company announcements.
Image: Microsoft. Viva Amplify is for ensuring the suitable individuals see vital firm bulletins.

“Imagine you’re onboarding 20,000 employees a quarter and using Viva Amplify to send communications to those 20,000 employees in a centralized way. So now you have one destination that you can go to as an employee communications team, whether you’re HR or IT or workplace communications: you can build out that campaign, and you can distribute that campaign directly to those new hires in a much more meaningful way. As a communications team, you only want to build that message once, and you want to be able to have that message appear consistently in a streamlined way across multiple endpoints, whether it’s on your machine when you log in for the very first time on your first day, or whether it’s in your inbox, or a community conversation that’s happening around the new hire resource group.”

The locations the place these communications are revealed could be one thing as free kind as Yammer or Viva Engage, however senior leaders might have a extra structured solution to talk.

“Viva Engage builds community and allows you to spark meaningful conversations, enables employees to be able to connect peer-to-peer, build their networks and create their following with social tools,” Khatri defined. The new Leadership Corner in Viva Engage is a device for executives to work together with workers and maintain “ask me anything” occasions. “Leaders can schedule those events and be able to understand what’s working, what questions are being posted out there and track the engagement of those questions.”

AMAs and company town halls in Viva Engage’s Leadership Corner can help with company culture.
Image: Microsoft. AMAs and firm city halls in Viva Engage’s Leadership Corner can assist with firm tradition.

With the storytelling options introduced lately and the best way Viva Topics and Viva Connections deliver Yammer into Teams, it would appear like a complicated variety of other ways to speak contained in the group, however these are totally different tools for various sorts of communication, Khatri defined.

Rather than fascinated with the tools in Viva as separate modules simply because you possibly can choose and select which of them you purchase, she instructed taking a look at what you wish to use Viva for and the way it suits into worker journeys, like onboarding new workers.

SEE: Checklist: Onboarding and offboarding IT workers (TechRepublic Premium)

“Viva provides an experience across four areas: connection, insight, purpose and growth. Connection combines together in a cohesive experience across Viva Connections, Viva Engage and Viva Amplify to build and streamline how employees connect with company culture, but also how they’re informed and engaged as they move forward.”

“Insight is around providing organizations with the right workplace analytics and feedback capabilities”: that’s Viva Insights and the new Pulse device. “That combined solution allows employees, managers, leaders to get the insights that they need, right in the flow of work and be able to protect their well-being and take action and balance well-being with productivity.”

Viva Goals is presently the one device that Khatri lessons beneath function (Viva Sales is the primary of what could be a number of Viva tools for a selected type of job slightly than the broader thought of function). Growth is about coaching, experience and data administration, and that features Viva Learning, Viva Topics and the new Answers in the Microsoft Viva device, which managers can consider as their very own firm model of Quora.

“Think of it as moving away from traditional search in a company,” Khatri instructed. “Search is obviously a very big pain point. You want to know the answer to something, and you have to hunt a million different places to find it.” Answers builds on Viva Topics and the Q&A options in Yammer that discover solutions which have been marked as useful. “We use AI and natural language processing to match employee questions to experts across the organization to help put collective knowledge at work.” If there’s a related matter card you’ll see that, alongside with particulars of who’s an knowledgeable in that space. If there are questions that haven’t been answered, these specialists will get a request to assist out, however subsequent time the identical query is requested, their solutions will seem routinely.

Someone beginning work will use all these totally different experiences, beginning with connection and function. “Think of all the things that you need as you get up to speed. You want to engage with what the company is all about; the culture, the mission. You want to understand what is my role and what’s behind what my team is working on, but also how does my job then contribute to the overall mission and the goals of the team. You want to be able to understand what others are working on as well. What are the different communities? What are the different employee resource groups that I can connect with as I get up to speed in my job?”

“Then you can think of the growth areas like Viva Learning as a way for managers to create pathways for those new hires to be able to understand what are some of the things that I need to learn specifically for this particular job to be more efficient in the role that I’m joining.”

With so many new tools, Viva Connections, which helps workers discover firm sources, is getting a new design to assist make that clearer. “It will not only allow employees to engage in news, events, conversations directly from things like Yammer or from Viva Engage but also be a destination where they can access all of their to do’s from all the different Viva apps and services, all in one experience.” A dashboard additionally brings third-party tools into this new Home view.

The new Viva Connections home page brings together all the different modules inside Teams.
Image: Microsoft. The new Viva Connections residence web page brings collectively all of the totally different modules inside Teams.

Organizations that solely pay for Viva Learning and Viva Insights however don’t have Viva Engage to deliver all of it collectively can use the new widespread navigation to leap between them, to verify the tools which are supposed to enhance their productivity aren’t getting in the best way.


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