Microsoft 365 is the bedrock of the modern, digital workplace. With a reported 200-million active monthly users, it’s safe to say that a lot of people are familiar with the rudiments of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Teams. But there is so much more to discover, including some lesser-known features that can make a real difference to the way you work. Whether it’s an easter-egg that makes life more convenient, or a tool that can have profound implications for inclusivity – it’s worth knowing about these secret, and not-so-secret gems. Here’s a few to whet your appetite.
Amidst the multi-tasking and competing demands of the modern office, distraction can be a problem. Numerous software developers have come up with ways to cut out the noise and notifications, but there is a solution already hidden within Microsoft Word.
Focus Mode turns your Word window full-screen and removes all other interfaces except for the scroll bar. It essentially turns your device into a pure word processor – ideal for when you have a document that just needs to be written.
You can activate Focus Mode on all Business Standard (and above) subscriptions. Simply click the word Focus on the bottom bar and get to writing.
Captions & Transcription in Teams
Teams is an invaluable tool for modern business. Let’s face it; it saved us all in recent years. That said, sound quality can be poor, competing voices can complicate understanding, and colleagues with a hearing impairment or limited language proficiency may feel excluded.
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) offers text capture within the meeting window. Users will see a rolling two lines of text, as well as the name of the speaker, which is really helpful if you miss a word or two of what someone was saying.
However, once a caption has left the screen it is gone for good, making it hard to catch up if you miss a larger section of the conversation. This is where Transcription is so useful. Once it is enabled by an administrator, you can turn on Live Transcription to access a live transcript of everything that has been said. The full transcript can also be downloaded by all parties at the end of the call.
CART is currently available in 27 different languages, with transcripts having even more options. That means there has never been a way to conduct a more clear and inclusive digital meeting.
Forms & Polls
During end-of-year reviews or at important moments, it can be both necessary and hugely challenging to gather company feedback. There is plenty of third-party software to support this, but integrating them with your systems – and convincing employees to visit external sites – is a major barrier.
Microsoft Forms is an easy solution. You can use Forms to create polls, surveys and quizzes for distribution across the business. However, Forms can also be integrated into Teams for a rapid response to pressing questions like “what time should we hold the next meeting?” You can also embed quizzes and surveys right inside Teams assignments – with a due date, auto-marking and feedback.
There are plenty of other ways that you can use Microsoft Forms to engage with colleagues and canvas opinion. It’s a useful example of how understanding the relationship between Microsoft 365 tools can really elevate your team-working.
One of the real strengths of Microsoft 365 is how easily it integrates with third-party apps. One of the best is Sharepoint, an app that began as a document management system – doing for teams what OneDrive does for individuals. It has since grown into a powerful internal communications tool. You can use Sharepoint to create internal-facing websites, designed by you but through a user-friendly interface. It’s a fantastic way to foster a sense of community, essentially building an office intranet without the need for developers. You can even invite external partners to participate, speeding up comms, customer-relations and partnership projects.
Depending on your Microsoft 365 subscription, Sharepoint may be included. Alternatively, it is available from the 365 App Launcher.
All This and More
This is only a sample of Microsoft 365’s ‘hidden’ features. If you would like a full understanding of the suite and how to employ its full strength, Prism can offer training tailored to your business needs.