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Hybrid Working

4 Ways Microsoft 365 Enterprises Can Make Hybrid Working Work

Hybrid working – the combination of remote and in-office work that allows employees to balance productivity, collaboration, and personal needs – is now a well-trodden path.

And, despite some business leaders preferring us all to return to the office, hybrid working has become the norm and even essential for attracting and retaining employees.

In this article we explore practical solutions, from both Microsoft and third-parties, that build on the Microsoft 365 platform to make hybrid working work more effectively.


Do you use Microsoft 365?
Here’s 4 practical ways in which this platform will help you thrive in a hybrid working model….and why third-party solutions need careful consideration.

1. Learning & Skills Transfer

Online Learning

Online and hybrid eLearning are crucial for professional development in hybrid working models. Microsoft 365 offers robust tools to support these learning methods:

  • Microsoft Teams: Facilitates live virtual classrooms and interactive sessions.
  • Microsoft Stream: Hosts recorded training sessions and webinars for on-demand access.
  • OneNote: Organises training materials and notes for easy review.
  • Blended Learning: Combines online modules (via Teams or SharePoint) with in-person workshops.
  • Collaborative Projects: Utilises SharePoint and OneDrive for team projects, integrating remote and in-office participants.
  • Viva Learning: a centralised learning hub that lets you surface learning and skills-building into Microsoft Teams.

These native capabilities of Microsoft 365 are further enhanced by the fact that users are already familiar with these tools, which reduces the learning curve and increases adoption rates.

All these tools are underpinned by extremely robust access and security rights, ensuring that sensitive information and learning materials are protected. This combination of familiarity and security makes Microsoft 365 an ideal platform for supporting effective online and hybrid eLearning.

Enterprises wishing to extend this platform with advanced learning management and tracking to meet personal development goals, maintain certifications and fill skills gaps, can benefit from our learning management system for Microsoft 365.

Onboarding new starters

Lack of in-person learning is a commonly-raised objection when it comes to ensuring new employees get a consistent onboarding experience.

With Microsoft 365, tools like Microsoft Teams and SharePoint that can help streamline the onboarding process. For example, you can create a dedicated onboarding portal on SharePoint with all necessary resources, training materials, and schedules. You can also use Guest accounts to start engaging with new employees before their official start date.

Teams is ideal for virtual orientations, Q&A sessions, and to foster initial engagement with colleagues.

Tools like Learn365 can be used to automatically enrol new-starts on onboarding programs – whether they comprise eLearning, In-person learning or a combination of both – and track onboarding progress.

Optimising In-person Working Opportunities

There’s nothing quite like sitting next to the person you want to learn from or collaborate with on a project. Hybrid working, however, makes scheduling a convenient time and workspace to meet in person with mentors, co-workers and colleagues that little bit harder.

Keep your eyes on Microsoft Places – the latest iteration of which promises to transform hybrid working.

This innovative tool is set to help hybrid workers in the following areas:

  • Providing better visibility of the whereabouts of team members when planning an office visit
  • Making it easier to communicate plans to visit the office
  • Allowing team leaders to provide guidance and expectations around in-person working
  • Scheduling in-person events, with a new Hybrid RSVP option.

See also point 4 for more information.

2. Maintaining Company Culture and Team Building

Keeping Everyone in the Loop

It’s no secret: Building a cohesive company culture in a hybrid environment takes a lot of effort. The great news is that Microsoft offers a smorgasbord of options:

  • Microsoft Teams is a great way for structured groups of people to collaborate on a specific subject or project in real time.
  • An alternative to Teams is Viva Engage (previously Yammer). Viva Engage is a great vehicle for enabling informal interactions amongst communities with shared interests. Football (e.g., the Euros) is a great example of where you might use a Viva Engage community instead of, say, a departmental Team (which may comprise people not interested in football). The ability to easily link communities with shared interests can help remote employees feel connected beyond their day-to-day co-worker interactions (see next section).
  • A well-designed SharePoint intranet is vital for maintaining company culture, especially in hybrid work settings. It serves as a central hub for communication, collaboration, and information sharing, ensuring all employees have access to the same resources. You can also surface posts in Viva Engage in SharePoint using the Viva Engage web part.

Combating Isolation:

To address feelings of isolation among remote workers, schedule regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings.

Using the Teams video call feature to maintain face-to-face interaction, can significantly enhance the sense of connection and support.

TIP: Managers should take it on themselves to lead by example and always have their cameras turned on.

Again, by featuring company news, success stories, and social activities, an intranet plays an important role in enhancing employee engagement and fostering a sense of community.

For example, did you know you can include Viva Engage feeds into the relevant SharePoint pages? This is a great way of keeping your content fresh without creating a big SharePoint content overhead for departmental reps.

Engineering your SharePoint Intranet for the best user experience should also be a priority. For example, the templates available from Microsoft are great, but they may be more than you need to achieve your goals, and turn into something that gets neglected over time.

3. Performance Management

Monitoring Productivity….:

Whether working in the office or working remotely, assessing employee productivity is challenging.

For a start, whether in the office or working remotely, ‘lots of activity’ and ‘appearing to be busy’ does not equal productivity. 

Next, the use of digital monitoring to assess activity is something that has been controversial to date – particularly when it comes to protection of privacy.

Tools like Microsoft Viva Insights have more recently been positioned as being anonymous in their approach, and designed to help managers identify areas where employees might need additional support or resources across the board.

Additionally Viva Insights can help individuals view their own performance metrics: including understanding work patterns, tips on how to stay connected, outstanding commitments, etc.

Setting Goals and Getting Feedback:

Rather than relying on assessing individual metrics, leaders should instead give workers clarity on the work that matters and listen to their staff to hear their experiences at work.

Did you know Microsoft has extended the range of employee experience (EX) tools in its Viva platform?

  • Viva Pulse a ‘lightweight’ survey tool that can be used to guage team sentiment,
  • Viva Glint a more advanced survey and ‘listening’ system that also delivers action plans and developmental recommendations
  • Viva Goals for managing OKRs (objectives and key results)

The benefit of these solutions is that they are surfaced ‘in the flow of work’ – for example, in Teams and SharePoint.

If you’re sold on the concept of building on top of your Microsoft 365 platform but would like a lower price tag, simpler management and dedicated support, you may want to check out Perform365, the EX and performance management tool for Microsoft 365.

4. Office Space Management

Workspace Booking Systems:

The ability to manage the utilisation of desks, collaboration spaces and meeting rooms is crucial when managing variable occupancy in a hybrid office.

For example, if you know your office is going to be massively under-subscribed on a Monday and Friday, you can close down office floors to save office running costs, and have your workforce book their desk from a smaller available pool in a specific area.

Site-specific policies can also be built into your workspace booking system to automatically throttle who can access what resources and to ensure limited resources are shared equitably.

By building workspace booking into your native Outlook and Teams means you can also leverage the many new features that will be offered in Microsoft Places.

Flexible Workspace Design:

Designing flexible workspaces that can be easily reconfigured is vital. 

Best practices include creating flexible, modular spaces that can adapt to varying needs, incorporating quiet zones for focused work, and collaborative areas for team activities.

Implementing a clear numbering system for desks and meeting rooms simplifies navigation and booking, as do solutions that support interactive floor plans.

On-the-day Visibility:

Using Microsoft-365-integrated digital signage for at-a-glance availability, ad-hoc bookings and authenticated check-ins, together with occupancy sensors, will help your hybrid workforce make more efficient use of space and provide valuable insights for optimising your hybrid workspace.


Implementing a hybrid working model presents many challenges, but with the right tools and strategies, these can be effectively managed.

By focusing on the key areas of onboarding, communication, collaboration, performance management, and office space optimisation, businesses can create a dynamic and efficient hybrid work environment that supports both employee satisfaction and organisational success.

And, although Microsoft is working hard in each of these areas to deliver value-add tools and services to aid hybrid working, you may find that by opting for third party tools designed for the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, you’ll get a solution that is:

  • Lower in licence costs
  • More flexible for your individual needs
  • More sophisticated
  • Better supported.

Discover how to add value to your workforce development, goal setting and engagement in Microsoft 365.