IM on it—Why Instant Messaging is Collaboration’s Secret Weapon

Implementing an instant messaging platform is important for productivity for teams of all sizes. Enabling a system for quick, informal, easy-to-reference and mobile chats keeps teams connected for nimble collaborations—resulting in a major value-add to your business.

How much value, exactly? Businesses that have embraced instant messaging practice have seen remarkable improvements in productivity and streamlined communication. According to a survey of employees using chat services conducted by SoftwareAdvice.com, 75 percent saw decreased call and email volume, and 66 percent noticed quick resolution for simple questions. When it comes to productivity, 21 percent noted either moderate or significant increase.

IM instant messaging is collaborations secret weapon FI

As company-wide IM benefits become clear, more and more businesses are getting on board. If you’re interested in these benefits but are wary to ensure proper implementation and use throughout your company, provide best practices for your employees to reference to increase productivity and reduce frustrating growing pains.

Don’t shoot the messenger

The following five best practices help ensure successful adoption and usage of IM in your organization:

  1. Provide a company-wide solution—Don’t require employees to use personal accounts; implement a company-provided instant messaging offering. This will streamline features and allow all your employees to find each other to chat.
  2. Choose a secure solution with robust featuresCompliance standards (like HIPPA, DPAS and FISMA, FERPA and banking) apply to more than just email and other secure information sources. Ensure that all your business communication tools align with common compliance standards.
  3. Integrate with other collaboration tools—Standalone instant messengers can leave employees with cumbersome roadblocks. Ensure your solution integrates seamlessly with other tools like business email, phone and video conferencing. Encourage employees to start conversations within project-specific documentation, so that the goal of the conversation remains clear and important information can be easily referenced.
  4. Empower employees to set and respect boundaries—Being reachable 24/7 is unrealistic and sets up your employees for burnout. Encourage colleagues to mute their instant messaging tool for periods of private productivity and focus, then remind co-workers to respect that virtual space.
  5. Don’t replace email completely—Instant messaging is a great option to communicate with even the most inbox-overwhelmed colleagues. But, instant messaging should not replace email or other collaboration tools that are core to keeping record of memorialized conversations. Set standards and show examples of the types of content best handled via IM, email or other project management tools. A general rule is length, if the message will contain more than a few words or sentences, email remains the best option.

A valuable tool for company-wide collaboration, instant messengers should be used to keep employees productive—not distracted or stressed. By implementing and encouraging best practices and sticking with a solution that includes everything you need to implement these practice at the outset, you can see skyrocketing productivity and results.

For more information please contact Atidan at office365@atidan.com.

Reference: https://blogs.office.com/2016/07/20/im-why-instant-messaging-is-collaborations-secret-weapon/

National Small Business Week Webcast—“Small Business, Big Ideas: Live Expert Q&A”

Small Business Big Ideas

Join us for a bonus episode of the Office Small Business Academy, “Small Business, Big Ideas: Live Expert Q&A, in celebration of National Small Business Week, airing May 5 at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET.

We invite the small business community to ask our experts their questions about entrepreneurship during this special one-night event live from the Microsoft flagship store in New York. Together, we’ll discuss the best ways to lead and grow your small business—including tips to empower employees, embrace change, manage resources and create a loyal customer base.

Carol Roth, CNBC on-air contributor and best-selling author of “The Entrepreneur Equation,” will host the event and take your questions, along with Ramon Ray, publisher of Smart Hustle Magazine and small business evangelist, and Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media and former editorial director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Don’t miss this chance to ask our experts your burning questions!

Submit your questions now—Don’t miss this opportunity to ask our experts your burning questions! Submit your questions for Carol, Ramon and Rieva on Twitter with the hashtag #OfficeSmallBiz.

Special offer—And as a special offer for attendees, One Month of Office 365 Enterprise Plans or Two Months Office 365 Business Premium Free from Atidan with a one year committment. Email office365@atidan.com Offer good through May 31. You do not need to attend this event, just mention this offer.

Yammer External Groups Launched

Collaboration doesn’t stop at the company boundary. Sometimes you need to work closely with customers, consultants, partners or suppliers outside your organization.

Today, we are pleased to announce the new external groups feature in Yammer, enabling you to include people outside your company in a Yammer group—making it easier for extended teams to work together. The external groups capability builds on the existing ways to work with people outside your company, such as external networks and external messaging, which enables you to add people outside your organization directly to a thread in your organization’s Yammer network.

Yammer external groups 1

Creating a Yammer external group.

External groups allow team members with appropriate permissions from outside your organization to fully participate in projects and initiatives by providing access to all the conversations and content in the group. At the same time, we maintain the security of your network data by listing all external groups in a distinct section under the Groups menu and using clear indicators in the UI alerting users to the presence of external team members. Each external group requires group admin approval for external members to join, and a set of proactive controls via Exchange Transport Rules prevents sensitive company information from being shared. We also added functionality to our data export to help verified administrators see which files and conversations are accessible to external users.

Yammer external groups 2

An external group in Yammer.

Yammer external groups 3

Group membership in a Yammer external group.

External groups are available in your Yammer network today, so you can start working with your extended team right away! We are very excited about bringing this functionally to Yammer that helps our customers break down the silos between team members who work together from different organizations.

Learn more about how to create and manage external groups in Yammer.

Contact us at office365@atidan.com for more information, a free Yammer trial, and deployment offers

New SharePoint Online Interface Enhancements

Improve end user collaboration and sharing with latest SharePoint Online Document library updates. These new enhancements are rolling out now and are similar to what has appeared in OneDrive for Business in December 2015. Six cool enhancements are described below!

  1. Add Links You can Add Links pointing to other documents in the document library. These links can be from user’s OneDrive or another SharePoint Online site.

SharePoint Online Atidan 1

Create a Link and otice the .url extension when the link is added.

The links are security trimmed are treated as any other file or folder in your document library – all with properties and workflow options. Perfect for adding a link to a Shared folder user’s OneDrive.

  1. Upload Folders With the new library experience, users will now have option to Upload Folders.

Simply select the folder to upload on your local and then Drag and drop onto a library.

SharePoint Online Atidan 2

Hints:

  • If you don’t see the option to drag and drop files, update your copy of Office.
  • If you’re using Windows 10 Edge browser, drag and drop might not work. Use Upload instead.

 

  1. Pin Folders or Documents Now you can Pin folders and documents on the top of the view in a document library. To highlight the file or folder menu when in thumbnail view simply Pin them from the edit menu.

Manage your Pinned documents and folders through the Edit Pin in the banner.
SharePoint Online Atidan 3

  1. Move or Copy Documents\Folders\Links Now a fantastic way to move document libraries into SharePoint in mass quantities

SharePoint Online Atidan 5Move Items – Select one or more documents and then click on three dots

Copy Items– Select one or more documents and then click on three dots

SharePoint Online Atidan 6

  1. Thumbnail or Grid View At the top right of the document library page, you can change the document library views using All Documents drop down menu. You can either choose list view or thumbnail view or Grid View to change the entire view of the library.SharePoint Online Atidan 7

You can also edit the views and select columns right from the page itself.

  • The highlight area is specific to a single folder or library view. When using custom views, you need to pin the item in each view where you want it to appear.
  • You can highlight a maximum of 3 items per library, folder, or view.
  1. Properties Quick View You can edit  properties of a document and share from the menu on the right.SharePoint Online Atidan 8SharePoint Online Atidan 6

8 Features You Didn’t Know You Needed for Online Meetings

When it comes to business communication, face-to-face meetings are always a popular pick. But with company branches scattered across the country—and often, the world—virtual meetings are becoming a frequent choice. Not only can online collaboration save time, but money as well. In fact, according to Verizon Conferencing, virtual meetings between five or more people are at least seven times less expensive than face-to-face meetings that require travel. That’s why every organization, whether small or large, should invest in reliable virtual meeting software.

Features for Online Meetings

There are several free options available today, but in order to have the best online collaboration possible, companies should look for providers offering a rich selection of features. Many believe they’ll be just fine with decent picture and sound, but having a variety of impressive features can make all the difference between effective virtual meetings and those that are a waste of time.

Here are eight features you should keep in mind when selecting virtual meeting software:

  1. HD video—Because your virtual meetings are replacing face-to-face meetings within your organization and/or with clients, it’s important that your meeting software includes high-definition video that will allow for the best picture possible. Look for virtual meeting software that provides a video resolution of at least 1080p. Being able to see participants on the other side will encourage dialogue and true collaboration.
  2. Quality microphone—Just as you’ll want high-quality video, it’s imperative to have access to reliable audio during virtual meetings. Online collaboration will be boosted when everyone can clearly hear what is being said.
  3. Security compliance—While web conferencing may not be the most likely target of a cyber-attack, it’s still a good idea to select an online meeting service that offers a secure solution. Such a solution should include authentication and encryption, end-to-end regulatory compliance and consolidated management.
  4. Tech support—It doesn’t matter where your team members are located or what type of device they are using—things can go wrong. And when they do, it’s in everyone’s best interests to have a virtual meeting software provider that can support your team and get things fixed ASAP.
  5. Content sharing—At some point, most online meeting presenters will want to share documents, applications, webpages, software or other visuals with the group. Select virtual meeting software that allows presenters to share their screens (or portion of their screens), as well as delegate control to other meeting participants.
  6. Recording and playback—In today’s business world where busy professionals attend more than 60 meetings per month, it’s common for at least one person—if not several—to miss a meeting. Recording and playback features make it simple for these team members to catch up on what they missed without wasting anyone else’s time. In addition, online collaboration can be saved for archiving purposes.
  7. Dial-in conferencing services—One reason for video or web conferencing is to maintain the visual aspect that’s appealing in face-to-face settings. However, some meeting participants may be traveling or on the go during the meeting, making a dial-in feature imperative. This feature gives participants the option to call into the meeting via their phone.
  8. Polling—When you are holding an especially large online meeting, it’s not possible to hear ideas from everyone. But taking a quick poll is a great way to solicit audience feedback, increase participation and keep your audience engaged.

If your organization is looking for the best alternative to face-to-face meetings, search for an online meeting service that provides a large range of features, including the eight listed above. Keep in mind your goals for online collaboration—which may include everything from increased productivity to decreased costs, a heightened sense of camaraderie among employees and more—and ensure that any service you engage will allow your organization to achieve these goals.

 

Contact the Atidan team at office365@atidan.com for more information about our Cloud Services and unified communication solutions.

Credit to Microsoft: https://blogs.office.com/2016/02/16/features-you-need-for-online-meetings/

 

Office 365 Video – Beyond the Portal

A video message that is easy to find and easy to view will be more successful than one buried in the depths of one, two, three clicks away. When you put a company message from the CxO or a status update from a project leader—front and center where employees and team members are—the information and insights will be better targeted, more fully understood and ultimately shared within the right context.

Within Office 365, it is possible to place videos (embed) in-line and in-context where people work on projects, online and on-premises. You can do this within SharePoint Team Sites, custom company portals, internal blogs, wikis and more. Using the Office 365 Video solution, it is as simple as copy, paste and publish.

Watch our video here!

Learn more about how to embed a video to your online or on-premises SharePoint Team Site from Office 365 Video.

Let’s dive into three key scenarios where embedding videos improves corporate communications.

Embedding video scenarios

SharePoint Team Sites—SharePoint Team Sites are a place for working together with a group of people. They are great destinations to emphasize your brand and information out to your peers throughout the organization. They are central locations to manage content and information, sharing internally and externally to work in rhythm across the collective group of people you work with. As you continue to share documents, team notes, project timeline information and lists of data—so, too, can you easily place important video communications within the primary experience of a team site.

Embed video throughout your intranet 1

SharePoint Team Site showing an embedded video among an embedded PowerPoint, a document library, a KPI web part, plus navigation to other sites and subsites.

The company portalAn important part of the modern intranet is enabling companies to build their own custom portals and sub-portals (company intranet sites) that support search, custom design and navigation and business solutions on-premises and online. Here, too, it is critical for important, company-wide video messages—like a quarterly earnings report from the CFO—to be accessible; not a link to a video, but right there, playable on the home page where the eyeballs are and the desired action lives.

ContosoHomePortal

An embedded video within a custom portal home page, side-by-side with news and announcements, custom navigation elements and custom design.

Internal blog post—Blog what you want to say and do it in a modern way. That is the mantra of the new authoring canvas within the Office Delve profile experience. And spice up your posts with multimedia elements, including video, like a trip report; it’s easy! And because it’s integrated across Office 365, you can embed videos from the Office 365 Video portal—with inline playback—in seconds.

Embed video throughout your intranet 2

A video embedded within an internal blog post (rendered from a tablet device). Video plays back inline within the post, and can go full screen.

Watch a short video showcasing the Office 365 authoring canvas inside Office Delve, including adding a video within an internal blog post.

Take Office 365 Video beyond the portal

As you begin to embed videos onto team sites, portals and blogs, take advantage of the many ways to share video beyond the Office 365 Video portal and land your message to your intended audience. Share via email; post to Yammer; search and discover with Delve; make videos available on the go, accessible throughout your intranet—where users are active, engaged and ready to consume your information. Embed today, increase your reach and be heard!

Please contact the Atidan Office 365 team at office365@atidan.com for a free trial and no obligation briefing!

 

Blog credit to Microsoft: https://blogs.office.com/2016/01/19/embed-video-throughout-your-intranet/

Eight Ways to Successfully Lead Your Mobile Workforce

For many of us, the rise of the remote workforce comes as no surprise. For years now, office workers have been abandoning their desks in favor of settings that are farther afield and allow them to work in a more comfortable, and often more productive, environment. And it’s a trend that only promises to keep growing. In fact, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the U.S. mobile worker population is on track to grow from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million mobile workers in 2020. And by the end of the forecast period, IDC projects that mobile workers will account for nearly three quarters (72.3 percent) of the total U.S. workforce.

Eight ways

Although the mobile workforce has been building for some time, managers are, in many ways, still catching up and trying to determine how best to lead their teams when they’re not only not in the same room, but may be spread out over a number of cities, states or even countries. However, because so many organizations have used a remote workforce model for so many years now, and technology has moved ahead by leaps and bounds, leading remote teams is certainly easier than in years past. Of course, finding your own path to successful leadership will largely depend on your personal style, corporate culture and team members, but if you don’t know where to start or would like to add new techniques and technology to your bag of tricks, you would do well to try these time-tested tips:

  1. Manage results, not style—Remote employees often have their own style of working. Some may work for two hours, then take a break to take their kids to school or run an errand, then work four more hours, take a break and work the remaining two (or more) later, while others may keep regular office hours. So instead of managing how an employee gets his or her work done, focus on the quality of the work, whether deadlines are being met, whether they exhibit good decision-making skills, etc.
  2. Encourage teamwork—Working great distances from your co-workers can feel isolating, so make a point to encourage project work that allows team members to work together. This way, your staff will feel more connected to each other, and your department will benefit from shared ideas and greater communication between team members.
  3. Communicate—Because you can’t just pop over to someone’s desk or grab a cup of coffee in the break room, managers need to take initiative to establish relationships with their teams. Weekly or bi-weekly status calls can often help you address upcoming projects, performance issues, etc. Yet, other times an instant message or email conversation (that may or may not be work related) might be the best way to stay in touch. Whatever your approach is, be clear in your communications—but also let your personality shine through. After all, when you’re building and managing a team it’s important for everyone to know who they’re working with.
  4. Host web meetings (with video)—With everyone’s camera up and a shared view of your agenda, presentation, etc., your team can not only see each other—and put faces to names—but see the presenter’s desktop and get a clear picture of the information being addressed.
  5. Give them the right technology—Part of being a good manager is ensuring that your team members have everything they need to work efficiently. And when your workforce works remotely, that means supporting your staff with the right technology. When researching your options, look for software that makes sharing files safe, secure and simple; works on a range of devices, including laptops and desktops, tablets and mobile phones; and gives your workers the power to work on the same documents simultaneously. This way, everyone will have access to the same tools, you can mitigate compatibility issues, and your collaborative efforts can flourish.
  6. Give them a reason—Remote workers can feel disconnected from an organization’s goals and may not have a clear understanding of where their work fits into its mission. If you share the company’s vision and goals with your remote workforce and address how their work contributes to the success of the organization, your team will feel less detached from the company. This, in turn, inspires remote teams to work toward a common goal and be productive members of the organization.
  7. Be inclusive and provide praise—When it comes to training, praise for a job well done, and parties, offsite employees are often overlooked or simply forgotten about—which does nothing to encourage loyalty or foster relationships. As you manage your team of remote workers, try to ensure that they have the same opportunities for training as others and receive the same, prompt praise for a job well done that you would offer onsite workers. As for parties and team outings, if remote team members can’t make it to an event, consider giving them a small gift or a few extra hours off in a week. It’s a small gesture, but it can go a long way toward making them feel appreciated.
  8. Encourage a work-life balance—For remote workers, it’s easy to get caught up in a project or want to make just a little more progress on something before calling it quits for the day. It’s also equally easy to get distracted by projects at home, spouses, kids, pets, etc. The key is to strike a balance between the two. When onboarding new remote workers, talk to them about setting a schedule that they can stick to and setting aside a space designated for work only. Then, at the end of the day, they can shut down their laptops and disconnect from work. This will help them mentally unwind and enjoy their downtime, and start work with a clear head and a fresh perspective the next day.

Finally, as with most things in life, you must lead by example. By taking a proactive, transparent approach to work, being available to your teams and communicating clearly and often with staff in a wide variety of ways, they’ll see that you can not only be relied on, but trusted. They’ll see firsthand how you want the team to function and will follow your footsteps—helping you create a supportive virtual environment that’s conducive to mobile productivity and exemplary work.

For more information about our collaboration and mobile solutions please contact us at sales@atidan.com

 

Credit to Microsoft https://blogs.office.com/2016/01/13/successfully-lead-your-mobile-workforce/

 

 

 

Create the Modern Workplace Webcast Series – Join Us!

Join us for a virtual webcast series live from the Microsoft Technology Center to learn how to empower your employees and organization with tools from Office 365.

With the industry’s most advanced productivity suite—Office 365—Microsoft is focused on creating the modern workplace to help you communicate and collaborate without borders and barriers. We know that connecting with coworkers, customers and partners is critical for your business. With better tools and better connections, your opportunities for business growth are limitless.

This three-part webcast series will help you learn about the industry’s most innovative productivity suite. Today, with Office 2016 and Office 365, there is no one else who takes such a broad view of productivity. We think about productivity across individuals, teams/groups and organizations. Explore how you can take advantage of our solutions to create a more modern workplace.

Join this virtual webcast series to hear insights into Microsoft’s latest productivity solutions and to understand how you can:

  • Improve meetings with new features in Skype for Business and Office 365.
  • Collaborate and share files in real time with advanced tools and the cloud.
  • Enable mobile productivity with Office 365.
Date Webcast title Registration link
November 12, 2015 at 10 a.m. PST 5 Ways You Can Modernize Your Meetings Register here
November 19, 2015 at 10 a.m. PST Drive Connected Collaboration Register here
December 4, 2015 at 10 a.m. PST Fuel Mobile Productivity with Office 2016 Register here

Register now and join us live or on demand and learn how you can empower your employees to be more productive from anywhere on any device or platform.

How Does The Cloud Change The Way We Do Business?

“Crawl, walk, run” is what we are advising clients of all sizes when it comes to the cloud. Atidan is helping to deliver a variety of cloud services including backup, test/development servers, production servers, application and mobile services, advanced security solutions and much more. Contact us for a no obligation analysis and briefing to find out your best path to the cloud.
 

This article excerpt, by Stewart Parkin, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1AM21pt 
How has the cloud revolution enabled businesses to be more efficient and cutting edge? Let’s count the ways. There are many.
Effective and Inexpensive
First of all, the cloud has made businesses more cost effective by allowing them to store unlimited amounts of data inexpensively. Companies don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to access cloud technology. A major capital expenditure is not necessary to access cloud based applications. This cost saving allows businesses to be more efficient and streamlined. This is just one of the many benefits of what the cloud has to offer.
Performing Varied Functions
For example, customers can have instant access to information and services using only a laptop or using their smartphones. The cloud allows them to perform a variety of functions online ranging from shopping, reading, participating in discussions, and many more, all in one place. Cloud technology essentially offers the end user a one-stop portal. There is no need to flip through the yellow pages of your old phone company.
Mobility
The same is true for a company’s employees. They can have instant access to company files and information allowing them to interact with the home office, suppliers and customers. The data they need can be accessed instantly in one convenient place on the web, saving them time and making them more efficient.
In fact, access to cloud-based applications also allows employees more mobility and freedom. While traveling the globe, all they need is access to the Internet via a laptop or their smartphone, or just have to pop into an Internet café to access their data in the cloud. Their data and important documents and files can be safely stored and accessed in the cloud, allowing them to travel without worries, with peace of mind.
Instant Access
Collaboration is a breeze thanks to the cloud. Businesses can share information with their suppliers and employees, allowing them to access important data instantaneously. Sharing information, ideas and data has never been so easy.
Improved Technology
In addition, the cloud has helped businesses in a variety of other ways, including compliance and risk management, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, E-commerce, help desk and support services, document management, disaster recovery, and supply chain management. All of these tasks have been made easier thanks to the advent of the cloud. As the technology keeps improving, there will be many more ways in which the cloud can help companies become more efficient.
So, for these and many other reasons, the cloud has changed the way we do business. What’s there not to like? The cloud has changed the way we do business for the better.
Contact Atidan today at azure@atidan.com to find out more about our cloud solutions!

Skype for Business Events – Welcome to a Unified Communications World

Join Atidan for live demonstrations showcasing the latest Skype for Business and Office 365!

June 12, 2015, Friday 1PM Eastern – Register Here

June 19, 2015, Friday 11AM Eastern – Register Here

June 30, 2015, Tuesday 2PM Eastern – Register Here

Microsoft is already delivering the tools that make meetings more productive – with assets that are integrated, familiar, and part of the everyday work experience. And yet, so much more is possible with Skype for Business as a part of Office 365. Atidan is pleased to invite you to experience Skype for Business during our live demonstration and discussion.

We will show you how schedule and start a meeting right from within your Exchange Email and share documents directly from Office apps like PowerPoint. Take notes with OneNote and share information from SharePoint portals. Skype for Business supports all kinds of meetings – from highly interactive collaborative sessions to more formal, large presentations.

Audio, video and web conferencing is integrated into a single experience. People connect easily and stay focused on the things they’re doing together—whether it’s sharing an app, co-authoring, or presenting content. Frequent meeting organizers and hosts will save time on routine activities.

Skype for Business automatically captures participant lists via OneNote. Sharing and co-editing the meeting notes can be done without having to switch back-and-forth from one app to another. Skype for Business means the freedom to work with anyone, in any location, at any time – virtually eliminating the need for travel.

Spontaneous conversations, working sessions, and meetings can happen at any time. People in different locations meet and make decisions in an instant. Online meetings are easy to host, join, and manage with Skype for Business.

Everyone registered will receive a free trial offer and we are giving away copies of Microsoft Office to several lucky winners!

Introducing Skype for Business – Presented by Atidan

Skype for Business Quick Introduction Video

What is New in Skype for Business Video

Lync is now Skype for Business — see what’s new

What’s Skype for Business?

Change your picture

Add a contact from your org or the Skype directory
Send an IM
Make and receive a video call

Make a call using your PBX desk phone for audio

Set up a Skype for Business meeting in Outlook

Join a Skype for Business meeting

Call into a meeting on your mobile or other phone

Set up and test Skype for Business audio and video

As always, the Atidan team is here to support you and if we can assist you with Skype for Business or any other questions please contact us!Skype 1 Skype 2 Skype 3 Skype 4