Helping you adopt & adapt the Microsoft Modern Workplace & Azure Cloud for your business

Have you started getting excited about the coming holiday festivities?

Pre-COVID-19 in the Essential office we loved the festive season.

December 1st would be marked by putting up our funky corporate Christmas tree (black with blue lights) and each department would put up their own trimmings (naff tinsel and USB light strings).

Over the following weeks an array of edible goodies would pop up in strategic places; countless boxes of chocolates, Lidl stollen cakes, panettone, those little cheesy balls that come in canisters….

This year (like the last one) will of course be different.

Although I personally won’t miss the countless trips to the front door to intercept Amazon deliveries, and our waistlines will no doubt benefit, we will all miss the buzz and the opportunity to socialise in person over a mince pie or three.

So, this year we are attempting something new.

On the count-down to Christmas we will be using our SharePoint intranet to host a ‘virtual advent calendar’ and get everyone involved in a range of virtual festive activities.

This will start off on day 1 with a questionnaire in Microsoft Forms to make sure everyone’s involved and all the different ways we have of celebrating the holidays are represented.

Suggestions to get everyone’s festive thought juices going are:​

  • Polls: Best ever Holidays Movie/song
  • Debates: Sprouts: devil’s food or (pre)fab?
  • Christmas quiz (we’ll probably host this in Teams using breakout rooms to work in groups)
  • Fundraiser: Suggestions for this year’s Essential charity & pledges
  • Raffle: An opportunity to unload last year’s unwanted Xmas gifts to the highest bidder
  • Big & exciting project updates
  • Worst Xmas sweater day (schedule a get together on Teams)

Apart from helping ‘create the holiday buzz’, this exercise is useful for any enterprise that is looking towards its company intranet to support a remote and hybrid workforce.  Why?

It’s a great way to make your intranet a daily habit

As we wrote in our recent eBook, It doesn’t matter how well designed your SharePoint intranet is, if there’s never anything new for employees to engage with, they won’t come back.

This means it will fail as a way to provide much-needed information, corporate values, connections, training and context – especially to new hires.

Essential is just like any other company in that setting up an advent calendar on SharePoint will help us form the intranet habit – both for our workforce and, importantly, for the people that maintain it.

It’s also going to help the new recruits that have joined since March 2020 feel part of a bigger picture, familiarise them with our corporate personality, and encourage them to engage and participate in other programmes on offer.

It’s an opportunity to support your workforce

It may be too late to launch a full on advent calendar for your company, but there’s still time to ‘trim up’ your intranet with some holiday-themed graphics and content.

Also don’t forget that, as well as being fun, the holidays can be a stressful time and put pressure on us all.

Having an engaging and topical theme that captures folk’ attention is a great platform to ‘spotlight’ relevant learning and development content.  For example, resources that are relevant to mental and physical health and wellbeing issues.

Often such content is available, but can get ‘buried’ in a learning management system (LMS).

In short, getting departmental managers and the Learning and Development and HR departments to think about how they can make their training content topical and dynamic will help keep employees ‘coming back for more’, well into the New Year.

Digital Workplace Essentials

If you use Microsoft 365 and want to find out more about delivering learning ‘in the flow of work’, or modernising your SharePoint intranet, get in touch.

Why your organisation needs a great intranet: #2 Better Communication

One of the most important factors in communicating with a hybrid team is ensuring that information is communicated with everyone, wherever and whenever they are working.

Digital Workplaces for employees to create content, share knowledge, mind map, chat with colleagues and store or retrieve information quickly is key for any organisation looking to enable smarter working and create a digital culture.

Communications channels that work best are the ones that are two way. Not only should news, executive blogs and webinars feature in any solid communications plan but idea management and employee feedback to your executive team is equally important.

This short video features SharePoint intranet guru Sam Dolan and Clare Knight of Essential.

See our intranet solution in action!

Request a personalised full product demo

Why your organisation needs a great intranet: #1 Flexibility

A mighty intranet as a gateway to your Digital Workplace, boosts flexibility for your employee’s day to day tasks as well as the environment in which they are working.

It allows employees to connect anywhere, anytime on any device.

Importantly, it delivers the flexibility that’s conducive to achieving home/work life balance especially in today’s society where both worlds can be intertwined.

This short video features SharePoint intranet guru Sam Dolan and Clare Knight of Essential.

See our intranet solution in action!

Request a personalised full product demo

Unlike other LMSs that either a) are totally separate, or b) need to synchronise the provisioning of learner groups with Microsoft Teams (a process that can take up to 48 hours), LMS365 lets you use native Team membership to control learner enrolments.

This video looks at how you can harness the power of Microsoft Teams to manage learner enrolments in the LMS356 Learning Management System for Microsoft 365.

This includes the provisioning of Guest accounts and the automatic onboarding of staff to essential reading and training when they are added to an ‘all company Team’

If you want to ensure safely spaced desks for staff members visiting the office, you can pre-assign just those desks that are bookable in advance.  Alternatively you can make life a lot easier by setting up auto-zoning….

See how easy it is to provide Covid-secure desk booking for your workforce by using a pre-specified safe-distance that can be applied to your floorplan.

In this short video you will see our auto-zoning capability in action, including:

  • How it works from the ‘end user perspective’, and
  • How it’s configured ‘behind the scenes’

See our room & desk booking solution in action!

Request a personalised full product demo

When your team can easily find and book the workspaces and other facilities they need on the move, they’re free to focus on getting the job done.

Our mobile app lets staff view and book resources: either in advance or on the day along with catering, parking, AV equipment, visitor badges, and more, including:

  • Covid-safe operation with automatic safe-zoning, cleaning scheduling, contact tracing & contactless check-in
  • Ability to locate co-workers & book a resource nearby
  • Support for Microsoft Outlook, web bookings & app with a consistent user experience
  • Flexible policies that will enable you to optimise your workspace in the future
  • Ability to intercept requests (making them subject to approval)
  • Facilities reporting & management

See our room & desk booking solution in action!

Request a personalised full product demo

Don’t let Microsoft 365 leave your legacy email journals ‘marooned’…

If you are journaling in Microsoft 365, where are you writing your email journals to?

This is what Microsoft says on the subject of journalling in Microsoft 365: 

You can’t designate an Exchange Online mailbox as a journaling mailbox. You can deliver journal reports to an on-premises archiving system or a third-party archiving service.

On-premises? These days, using any system that’s sitting in your physical office is not a great option. Without IT staff on site every day to maintain and backup servers and storage, your records could be at risk.

In the cloud? If you’re using a hosted service like Mimecast or Proofpoint*, switching to Microsoft 365 for the protection of email (and a lot more besides) could save you a lot of money.

So what can you do to improve the situation?

There’s a school of thought that the features available in Microsoft 365 make the need to a run separate email journal unnecessary.

We produced this amusing ‘pirate video’ a while back to explain how Microsoft (arguably) replaces the role of a conventional journal, and why it’s important to carefully consider how legacy journals are migrated into the Microsoft 365 way of doing things.

Understand your options for tackling existing journals

Whether you want to switch entirely to Microsoft 365 for your journaling – or look elsewhere to stash your email records – we can help you work out the best options.

In the first instance we’ll help you assess whether conventional journaling is still required for your business and compliance needs, and talk you through the detail of how you can meet your compliance remit with the various settings and facilities available in Microsoft 365.

When it comes to deciding what to do with your legacy archives, there’s quite a few options open to you, including:

  • Let your legacy journals ‘age in place’ (bury them somewhere safe ;-) )
  • Migrate just the legacy journals you need into Microsoft 365
  • Switch to a cloud based journaling service in Microsoft Azure

*If you feel like you’re being held captive by your current hosted journaling service, we can help you jump ship and save lots of swag.  Sorry – getting too caught up in the pirate theme!

Email Journal Migration

Get in touch to discover your journal migration options arggghhh, Jim lad. 

In this video, we demonstrate how you can use our Room and Desk Booking solutions via a tablet screen, usually mounted outside a meeting room.

See how easy it is to use the on-screen booking functionality for checking the full resources and facilities of the room, and how to use your corporate identity to book and check-in the room.

When your team can easily book the workspaces and resources they need from their familiar Microsoft Outlook environment, they’re free to focus on getting the job done.

Our Outlook service lets staff view and book available workspaces: either in advance or on the day, using filtered lists or floor plans. They can also request other available resources such as catering, parking, AV equipment, visitor badges and more.

Additional features include:

  • Covid-safe operation with safe-zoning, cleaning scheduling, contact tracing & contactless check-in
  • Ability to locate co-workers & book a resource nearby
  • Support for bookings via the web & mobile app with a consistent user experience
  • Flexible policies that enable enterprises to optimise their workspace in the future
  • Facilities reporting & management