While some remember the days of Microsoft's not-so-efficient solutions from the early 2000s, those times are long gone. After significant strides over the past two decades, Office 365 solutions provide excellent efficiency and productivity capabilities for personal use. For businesses, Office 365 offers tools that help organizations work more efficiently within familiar, user-friendly programs powered by the cloud.
In addition to a variety of unique features and add-on services, a subscription for the enterprise version of Office 365 includes well-known programs like:
While Office 365 offers various well-known benefits, the team at Bit-Wizards has identified and implemented plenty of hidden gems across multiple program features and capabilities. LXS Fregger, Client Success Administrator at Bit-Wizards, says these little-known tips have made all the difference for our clients.
"Office 365 provides programs and features that are extremely helpful in communicating efficiently," Fregger explains. "Once they adjust after onboarding and learning the ropes, our clients truly enjoy the Office 365 experience and all it offers."
Here are some tips you can identify and leverage to get the full value of your company’s Office 365 subscription.
Email bonuses with Outlook and Exchange
On their own, Outlook and Exchange are solid programs that can almost completely guarantee that your emails are accessible at any time. Available in a program and web app format, Outlook offers relatively consistent feature parity between the two platforms. Like the other programs in Office 365, Outlook is powered by Microsoft's cloud solutions, meaning it's consistently functional. Brian Schlechter, MITS Technical Team Manager at Bit-Wizards, says that Microsoft's infrastructure ensures it can provide Exchange and Outlook services to its users anytime.
"If you're running an Exchange server in your office, it'll lose incoming emails if your system goes down," Schlechter explains. "By using Exchange through Office 365, you'll still collect emails, even if a server goes down, thanks to one of Microsoft's many failover server locations worldwide."
Specific to Outlook itself, there are extra features that can enhance your user experience and increase efficiency. Within the Outlook calendar feature, Office 365 users can set specific rules to filter recurring emails or emails from particular senders into dedicated folders. Fregger mentions that another time-saving feature in Outlook is storing email templates.
"For clients who have regular email communications that go out to their customers, they love using the template feature," says Fregger. "Instead of starting from scratch with each email for every recipient, they use templates to maintain consistency across customers."
For even more thorough efficiency, Outlook has a little-known feature of adding focus time to a calendar. Within the Calendar tab of Outlook, users can click the "Add Focus Time" button to block off a 30-minute section of their calendars automatically. For a more advanced, AI-powered approach to focus time, organizations can use Viva Insights within Outlook to optimize productivity.
With Viva Insights, users can set aside time within Outlook for:
- Focus time
- Quiet time
- Time away
- Lunch hours
From an IT administrator standpoint, Outlook for Office 365 offers the ability to configure security settings that ensure that users are protected when they add their mail accounts to other devices. Additionally, the Autodiscover function can help administrators save time by reducing complications with mismanaged machines, ultimately reducing the margin of error when setting up new devices.
Document perks with OneDrive and SharePoint
While document storage and management are often a pain point for businesses, OneDrive and SharePoint offer solutions for file storage that benefit employees, both individually and collectively. Both programs help solve problems associated with sharing documents that have perplexed businesses for years. Every day in offices nationwide, employees try to share files through emails that inevitably get lost in day-to-day tasks.
While the tried-and-true method of sending attachments through email is traditional, it's far from practical. With Office 365, users can share documents with anyone in their organization with almost no hassle or risk of clutter. All it takes is a few clicks within a specific document to share that file with one person, their team, or their entire company. Once shared, Schlechter states that team members can collaborate within documents with ease while avoiding the potential to duplicate and work out of multiple files.
"Many of our clients will use OneDrive and SharePoint to store all their files in one central location," explains Schlechter. "Once that structure is established, headaches caused by cluttered file storage disappear quickly."
Collaboration benefits with Teams
Out of all the programs in Office 365, Teams leads the pack in terms of collaboration capabilities for in-person, remote, and hybrid businesses. Through integrations with other programs, most of Office 365's best features are accessible within Teams.
Using Teams, organizations can take advantage of Office 365 integrations to:
- View Outlook calendars
- Manage schedules with Shifts
- View SharePoint files
- Edit Word, Excel, and other files
Outside of these integrations, Teams is an excellent standalone program that enables people to communicate through:
- One-on-one private chats
- Group chats
- Team-specific channels
- Company-wide channels
- Video conferences
- Audio calls
By offering various formats to facilitate discussion, Teams helps keep an organization's members focused and connected. For organizations in a single location, Teams can reduce distractions and increase response time by offering an alternative to in-person conversations. For businesses where employees are occasionally or permanently in different places, Fregger says Teams helps make clients feel unified.
"While it's sometimes beneficial to not have interruptions of a person standing in your doorway, hybrid and remote environments need that same connected feeling," Fregger emphasizes. "It's all about having a platform to facilitate open communication and rapport, and Teams helps by being that platform."
Optimizing Office 365 with Bit-Wizards
While using an Office 365 subscription and implementing some of these hidden gems can help you increase its value to your organization, there's still great potential to access the full value of Office 365. By partnering with Managed IT Services (MITS) from Bit-Wizards, clients get guidance and support from our team of experts on top of access to Office 365 for their organization. Schlecter says Bit-Wizards' status as a Microsoft partner is another huge perk for clients.
"One of the benefits of being a Microsoft Partner is that we have a direct line to Microsoft," Schlechter explains. "By partnering with Bit-Wizards, you're one step closer to a stronger support connection."
Ready to make the most of Office 365 for your business? Contact us today.