What’s the first thing you do when you start your workday? If you answered “check my email”…whether it’s from a mobile device next to your bed or the desktop in your office, you’re among the majority. Most of us can’t imagine life without email. In fact, we seem to have a love-hate relationship with it. Studies have shown that the average knowledge worker spends between 13-20 hours per week on email-related tasks. That’s 30-50% of a 40-hour work week. And these figures are growing, not shrinking. According to a study by the The Radicati Group, our use of email for business will continue to grow—from around 269 billion emails sent and received globally in 2017 to around 320 billion in 2021. 

our use of email for business will continue to grow—from around 269 billion emails sent and received globally in 2017 to around 320 billion in 2021. 

But with all of the new communication and collaboration tools available to us today, email is no longer the only game in town. The trick is to choose the most effective tool for your audience. One of the most powerful tools isn’t just a single tool; it’s a group of tools called Office 365, and I find that I am increasingly shifting my time spent communicating to using apps in O365 that can go far beyond email. Depending on your organization’s needs, these apps may include Skype for Business, Yammer (social networking for your organization), wikis, news feeds, SharePoint, O365 groups, Planner (task management), and Teams.  

Skype For Business & Microsoft Teams

Skype for Business is included in most O365 subscriptions, and it has become essential to the way I work today. The chat interface allows me to see a team member’s status at a glance and it’s perfect for short interoffice communication. No need to clutter up the inbox with a long chain of messages…just start a quick IM instead. It’s also great for conference calls with customers, vendors, and your coworkers working remotely. Sure, you may have conference tools on your telephone, but now those tools, and more, are available right at your fingertips on whatever device you use. 

What else can you do with Skype? Share. Share what? Files, a single program, your desktop, a whiteboard space, audience polls…the list goes on. You can even record meetings for playback later. 

During the next several months, you’ll see a number of changes in Skype. At September’s Ignite conference, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Teams would replace Skype for Business as the main meeting tool for Office 365 customers. Essentially, the two applications will be merging into a single “intelligent communications” application. Everything that a user needs for communication and collaboration will be accessible through a single interface—including chat, files, document editing, contacts, calendars, voicemail, and online meetings with closed captioning and online transcription. Imagine being able to co-edit a document, chat with other users, and even start a meeting—all within the same app. This is exactly what I’m looking for to help me be more productive. 

Teams is available from anywhere via online, desktop, and mobile apps. Most of the changes will be implemented by Q2 2018. If your organization is slow to adopt new features, your O365 administrator can easily control the pace of these changes…both when and how to roll out the updates, including a side-by-side implementation option to accommodate those who aren’t yet ready to make the move to Teams, as well as those who are. I believe this transition will significantly streamline the way we work and communicate. Teams may even overtake Outlook as our primary communication tool. Less time spent on email…what a wonderful idea. 

Watch the Ignite session demos for Teams and Skype for Business for more information.  If you would like to learn more about how your organization can use the Microsoft Office 365 suite of tools to streamline your communication and business processes, contact us.

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