A little over a year ago, we started hearing the term "Zoom Fatigue," that referenced the extreme exhaustion from virtual meetings. Many of us are still using virtual meetings reasonably consistently, and I can guess that all of us are tired of seeing our own faces during these calls. Not only is it exhausting and extremely distracting watching your own face throughout a meeting, but many times, we look very unnatural because of the orientation of our eyes since it is challenging not to watch ourselves. Luckily, Microsoft has an answer.
Microsoft consistently has something new and exciting up its sleeve. Last month, Microsoft did not disappoint during this annual conference, Ignite, which they virtually hosted. Ignite is typically one of the venues where new announcements and enhancements are revealed. This year, these announcements spanned multiple products and business needs and are sure to provide assistance in your office.
We are constantly online and reachable. Whether it is via our phones or that we are sitting at the office on our computers, someone can always reach us. In most situations, that is the point. We live in a time when work is always happening, and no time is off-limits. The average employee receives around 121 emails per day, and I would guess that since the onset of COVID-19, that number has increased. How much "work" are you actually getting done with the constant ping of new emails or messages from applications like Teams?
The overwhelming theme of this year’s virtual Microsoft Inspire 2021 conference was that Microsoft is fully committed to being the very best partner they can be to their partners. Satya Nadella started the conference with a powerful keynote acknowledging that Microsoft has gotten where it is today solely because of its partners and that it will only continue to grow if its partners are also growing. Every major takeaway from the conference carried along this theme, yet concepts ranged from security to reduced costs to higher functionality. Below are what we believe to be the most impactful takeaways from Microsoft Inspire 2021.
Internet browsers are typically a desire due to habit. Once you become comfortable with one, selecting another seems like an unfathomable choice. Chances are you are currently satisfied with Google Chrome and use it unquestionably. Up until recently, Chrome was by far the best and most intuitive choice. Fortunately, with some recent updates, Microsoft Edge is the new browser in town, and it appears to be showing Chrome some real competition. Let’s look at what each browser option offers and what option may be best for your browsing needs.
Even during times when your virtual meeting seems small and manageable, there is always a moment when open discussions and effective brainstorming seem challenging. Microsoft Teams now has a helpful solution when smaller groups need to be divided from the larger meeting to facilitate better exchanges and discussions. This new tool is called breakout rooms. Breakout rooms allow meeting organizers to create separate breakout room sessions and assign attendees to those rooms. These participants are still part of the group session but can "breakout," to have meaningful exchanges, and then return to the group. For this tool to be valuable, you need to know how to create and manage these breakout room sessions. Let's take a step-by-step look at how to facilitate this in your office setting.
Are there tasks at the office that you are consistently required to complete that take “focus” time away from your day? Are there times that you have ever thought, if only these tasks could run themselves, then I could get more done with my day? Microsoft must have been listening to our inner thoughts; thus, they have developed a solution. This solution, called Robotic Process Automation (RPA), was first announced at the 2019 Microsoft Ignite Conference. At the conference, Microsoft introduced the robotic process automation as a part of the Power Automate Desktop. Since the announcement in 2019, Microsoft has doubled down on this investment and has seen the return on investment. Hundreds of thousands of organizations have accepted it and are using it to automate billions of tasks each month. You may be wondering, how do I use this technology to lighten my load of “busy work” and increase my value by allowing more time for deliberate and innovative thinking?