Have you ever sent an email suggesting a meeting or call and forgot to set a reminder to follow it up? Or even received an email asking you to do something that you parked for tomorrow and is now lost in your inbox?!
Well, the new daily Briefing reminder email may just come to your rescue.
Each morning you can receive a list of potential actionable items that you may have forgotten about and that enables you to either dismiss each item or to quickly create a To-do task.
This is just one of the new features announced by Microsoft during March and although I was initially sceptical of more email clutter, so far it has proved really useful – although you do need to be using Microsoft To Do to get the best out of it (and who isn’t).
Improved Microsoft Teams meeting stage
I'm not sure I really like the term “stage” but Microsoft does, so we'll continue to use it.
The “stage” is basically the meeting window where you can see all the participants in your meeting, and this has come a long way in the last 12 months. It's hard to believe, but this time last year you could only see 4 faces at one time. Now that number seems to grow each quarter.
However, this growth has come with the need to better organise the “stage” and these latest enhancements will certainly help.
So, if you are used to holding meetings with more than a handful of people, then you should read this latest update to understand all the latest capabilities.
Dynamically optimised Teams meeting stage
Microsoft Teams is introducing Dynamic view, a redesigned "meeting stage" that will optimise your meeting experience.
Dynamic view will enable:
New Teams enhanced Dynamic view
More from Microsoft
New breakout room functionality coming to Microsoft Teams
1. Room assignment retention (new default behaviour)
Participants remain assigned to their breakout rooms unless the meeting organiser chooses to change them. The assignment persists across subsequent sessions or recurring meetings.
2. Participant reassignment while rooms are open
Organisers may reassign joined participants across rooms and the main meeting room when the breakout rooms are open. Currently reassignment works only when breakout rooms are closed.
3. Set timers for breakout sessions
Organisers can set a timer for all breakout rooms created in a meeting session via the Breakout rooms settings panel.
When the organiser has set a timer, the clock will show participants the time left in the room (countdown) rather than time elapsed.
The timer alerts participants that the breakout room session will close in 60 seconds. The organiser can then choose:
More from Microsoft
Immersive reader capabilities in SharePoint pages
As SharePoint pages become more important as your internal communication tool, then you need to make your pages not only visually pleasing but equally accessible to people with learning differences such as dyslexia.
Immersive reader has been available in office applications such as Word for a number of years and recently Microsoft rolled the capability out to Teams, to be used with chat and conversations. Well soon the same capability will be available to your people when they are reading your beautifully curated SharePoint news and intranet pages.
Immersive Reader is coming to SharePoint pages and news posts
The Microsoft Immersive Reader, which is currently built into Word, OneNote, Outlook, Teams and other Microsoft apps, will soon be available for SharePoint pages and news posts.
The Immersive Reader uses proven techniques to improve reading and writing for people regardless of their age or ability. This feature will be available on all modern pages and news posts except for home pages.
Viewers of SharePoint pages and news posts will see a button on the page command bar to open the Immersive Reader. In this initial release, the Immersive Reader will only read content contained in text web parts.
Focus mode for SharePoint pages
Yes, two enhancement this month when it comes to SharePoint pages.
Focus mode in SharePoint communication pages
Your SharePoint page authors and viewers will now be able to clean their field of vision and focus on page content by clicking the Expand content button on the command bar to hide the site header, site navigation, and global navigation bar.
This larger content viewing pane in Focus mode will continue as viewers navigate and select other links to open pages within the same site.
The larger content viewing pane will not continue when viewers select links to pages outside of the site, even if they are within a hub site.
Focus mode collapsed view
Focus mode expanded view
What you need to do to prepare
You might want to notify your users about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.
Images for company events
Publish company events complete with images
The Events web part on SharePoint pages and news posts will now have an option to show images.
SharePoint page authors who use the Events web part can enable an option to show event images within the web part. When enabled, each Event shown in the web part will display the image used in the title area of the Event page.
Existing Event web parts will not be updated. However, new web parts added to pages and news will default to show images.
Current events view
New events view
What you need to do to prepare
You might want to notify your users about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.
Daily actionable email
We started off this month’s Insights referring to this new feature that uses Microsoft’s artificial intelligence capability to help discover email correspondence that you may need to action.
Read on to discover more about this productivity feature coming soon. Remember though, this is just one more tool in the productivity armoury and is no substitute for not using all of the great Outlook tools and integrations available to you to track, plan and keep on top of your important emails.
New daily actionable items briefing email
The Briefing email is a personalised list of possible tasks and actionable items that have been detected at the end of your previous working day.
This could be an email reply from you informing the sender that you will deal with their request, or details of upcoming meetings and outstanding tasks.
All of these items appear in a briefing email so you're prepared for the day ahead. The email provides actionable buttons against each item to enable you to create a quick To Do task.
If there is relevant content, you will receive the Briefing email at the beginning of each workday; at least one actionable insight for the current day must be detected for there to be a Briefing mail delivered on that day.
Author: Chris Kaye
When talking about SharePoint and Teams, it is a bit like asking the Chicken or the Egg question, and which comes first.
As Teams has becomes more prominent, we find that most people start by creating Teams without giving any thought to where the content really should exist. This often results in more Teams than are necessary for communication and collaboration needs, purely to give additional content a home.
For this reason, we always start with SharePoint - to map out and implement a client’s content and then, where communication is required around the content, a Team can be created that pulls in relevant content across the SharePoint site libraries and lists when needed.
Microsoft is now releasing an enhanced “wizard” for when you create a new Team based on an existing SharePoint site, so that it is easier to perform this action and to integrate content across the site. We think this adds extra validation to our Chicken or Egg approach!
To add more credence to the Teams or SharePoint question, this next enhancement will make it easier in Teams to pin SharePoint document libraries to a channel, regardless of which SharePoint site those libraries reside in. So once again, make sure you focus on getting your SharePoint sites correctly identified and designed before going anywhere near Teams.
There are three enhancements to the meeting experiences in Teams announced this month:
1. More support for switching between Full Screen and Focused (when you want to just focus on a presentation or screen share).
2. Changing the way participants access meeting chat messages both during and post the meeting.
3. Further integration between Teams and Microsoft Forms making it really simple for a meeting presenter to add a “poll” into the meeting to get participant feedback and then publish the responses to all meeting participants.
More great changes for SharePoint Lists.
If you are a fan of SharePoint Lists (and who isn’t) and use the “Grid View” to perform editing tasks, then you will soon be getting the ability to “undo” and “redo” changes you have made.
Without reverting to PowerApps, you currently, you have little control over the layout and format of a SharePoint List Form. Soon however, you will be able to configure each forms header, footer and body sections.
Coming soon is the ability to create simple rules based on the contents of a SharePoint list enabling you to set reminders or send notifications.
Microsoft is also improving the ability for you to brand your SharePoint sites by providing more flexibility, including a new “minimal” header size to reduce space and bring content such as News closer to the top, together with more control around site logos and the ability to hide the title of the site.
It is now easy to add shortcuts to folders with important documents, or just those you need to access regularly, from any SharePoint library and for those shortcuts to then appear in your OneDrive app so that they can be easily found.
What is also fantastic, is that if you sync OneDrive to your device, then the folders and documents behind the shortcuts are also synced, so that they are always available. This means you do not need to sync the additional libraries where those folders exist. More and more, OneDrive can become your personal information manager where you can create your own view of the corporate world in which you work with quick access to the content you need.
Although we're not convinced this will be a major “wow”, but a new feature of Planner will be the ability to add different backgrounds to each Plan. Backgrounds will be “recommended” based on the title of the plan - which could be interesting!
Add Microsoft Teams to your SharePoint team site
When associating the Teams app with an existing SharePoint group, access a new wizard which make it easy for a group owner to select the lists, libraries, or pages to incorporate into Teams as tabs. Make the selection, then click the Add Teams button.
Once in Teams, it is easy for group members to collaborate around existing SharePoint content. Users can select a list they had been just working on in SharePoint and then engage team members in chat alongside the list, directly in Teams.
Use SharePoint tab to add pages, lists or document libraries to a channel in Teams
Microsoft has improved the SharePoint tab experience to now allow pinning of document libraries, by selecting from the backing team site, or by providing a link to any other document library to which the user has access. Also added is a new "Recommended" section in the SharePoint tab to help users easily find the most relevant content from their site to pin in their channels.
Once available, Teams users will be able to pin their SharePoint content; pages, news, lists and document libraries using the SharePoint tab.
More from Microsoft
Add a SharePoint page, list, or document library as a tab in Teams - Office Support (microsoft.com)
Full screen support in new Teams meeting experience
Microsoft is bringing Full Screen support back in the new meeting experience for Teams desktop applications.
The feature is accessible via meeting controls under More options (…) > Full screen. On Mac OS, you can also access it by using the native “Full screen” control on the top left corner of the meeting window.
To focus attention on content that is shared during a meeting, use Focus mode, accessible via More options (…) > Focus mode. In Focus mode, content uses the entire meeting window. By removing other Teams elements from the window, this mode makes it easier to focus on content.
Updates to meeting chat membership in Teams
Microsoft is updating a meeting participant's access to meeting chat. These changes will manage a users access to a meeting chat based on how they were invited to the meeting. Once this has rolled out, the changes will apply to new meetings. These changes will not be applied to previously scheduled meetings.
A participants access to meeting chat will be dependent on how they were invited to the meeting:
Recurring - Single instance of a meeting series
Forms polls in Microsoft Teams meetings
Any meeting presenter can add the Forms app as a tab in the Teams meeting.
Before the meeting, the presenter can create draft polls. During the meeting, the presenter can create and launch polls that any attendee can view and answer. All attendees will be able to see the results in real time, and respondents can respond to a poll after the meeting if the poll has not been closed.
Attendee view of Teams meeting poll that has been launched.
After the meeting, meeting presenters can evaluate responses in the meeting tab, export responses to an Excel workbook, or review responses on the web in the Forms app.
Microsoft Lists undo and redo commands
With the release of undo and redo capabilities, users who edit their lists when in grid view will be able to retract any unwanted changes or bring back previously entered information.
Two changes are part of this feature rollout.
First, users will now be able see Undo and Redo commands as they modify lists, whether they are working on the list in SharePoint, the Lists app in Microsoft 365, or the Lists app in Microsoft Teams.
Second, users will be able to use the following keyboard shortcuts to perform undo and redo operations while editing from grid view.
Configuring list or library forms for Microsoft Lists and SharePoint
With this update, anyone who can create and manage views in a list can configure the list or library form with header, footer, and body sections for both Microsoft Lists and SharePoint.
Once available, list and library users with appropriate permissions will be able to configure an associated form to include a custom header, footer, and body with one or more sections. The form configuration doesn’t change the data in the list item or file; it changes only how the form is displayed to those who browse the list or library.
More from Microsoft
Configure the list form | Microsoft Docs
List rules make it easy to set up notifications of changes
With this update, SharePoint users with edit permissions on a list can create simple if / then rules, based on changes to list information, to set reminders and send notifications. Users with edit permissions on the list can create and manage rules. Users with read-only permissions can’t create or manage rules.
Once the feature is available to your users, they’ll be able to create a rule by selecting Automate and then Create a rule in the list command bar near the top of the page. These notifications emails will be sent from Microsoft 365 to one or more users in your organization, as shown below.
Once rolled out, the feature will be available to all list users in Microsoft Lists and SharePoint. Users will be able to create a maximum of 15 rules per list.
SharePoint site header updates
Microsoft is expanding the SharePoint branding options that make it easier to customise your site, including new header configurations for modern sites.
These updates will not impact existing sites and or any current site customisations.
You might want to notify your SharePoint site owners about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.
Add to OneDrive is generally available
Files are the building blocks of our work— helping us collaborate with others to construct the end results. Research documents, data spreadsheets, sales reports, presentations, product videos and other content-rich files are the components that hold up our final deliverable.
"Where can I find that file?"
It’s a question we’ve all asked our colleagues, our teams, and, most often, ourselves countless times but not anymore. Microsoft has now announced that the previously disclosed Add to OneDrive feature is now generally available. Now, instead of figuring out who sent us that file or remembering the original location of the shared content, we can swiftly get back to the files we need, directly within our OneDrive.
Add to OneDrive makes it easy to add a shortcut to the shared folders directly to our OneDrive. Shared folders include content that others have shared with us through their OneDrive, which surfaces in the "Shared with me" view or content that is a part of a shared library in Microsoft Teams or SharePoint.
Add to OneDrive makes it easy to add a shortcut to the shared folders directly to our OneDrive
With Add to OneDrive, not only can we bring all our shared content into one place, but we can also work with the shared content with the same power and flexibility as if they are files we own. This means we can easily sync and access these folders from anywhere on any device; securely share and co-author files in the added folder; and stay up to date with @mentions, activity, and notifications. Added folders respect all existing policies, compliance, and security settings, too.
Added folders can be synced to your device for anytime anywhere access.
Introducing smart backgrounds for Planner
Users will be able to add a relevant and unique background image to a Planner plan from a list of recommendations.
This new Planner feature allows users to view smart image recommendations and add a relevant and unique background image to each plan, Powered by Designer. The image recommendations are based on the title of the plan.
Author: SO365 Insights
There are two main improvements to Teams meetings announced this month, the most significant of which is the ability to create “breakout rooms ” during a meeting - a facility that has been available in competitor products such as Zoom for a while. Breakout rooms are useful when you are running workshops for example, and want to break the attendees into separate groups to hold discussions or to work together for a short period.
The second meeting improvement is the ability to suppress background noise, which will be relevant as more of us move back to working from home, where it is more difficult to control the environment in which a meeting is held.
Other changes to Teams include an update to the Teams App on iOS so that you can see more participants when joining via your mobile.
And, if you ever override your Teams “presence” to enable you to concentrate on a piece of work, but then forget to reset it so you are stuck forever on “Do not disturb”, then this change will come to your rescue and enable you to set a duration for the override and then the presence indicator will reset.
Over the last few months, we have been extolling the improvements to SharePoint Lists and actively encouraging more of our clients to explore their power. This month, Microsoft have added the ability to add comments to list items which other colleagues can then view. This will add greater flexibility to Lists and introduce commenting features that we are familiar with in word or Excel.
This month also sees the new “My feed web part” which can be added to modern SharePoint sites. This will provide your users with a mixture of content relevant to them, such as updated or changed documents, upcoming meetings, etc.
Finally, the major investment across the whole of the Microsoft world is the integration of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) capabilities that can be used in a variety of ways. SharePoint Syntex is one such evolution of AI. It enables your non-technical users to build models to train SharePoint Syntex to better understand and tag your content, so that it is easier to find and retrieve later, or to automatically initiate a predefined process based on the tags. This might sound big company stuff, but it is worth reviewing the announcements and looking to see if there are ways that Syntex could improve your internal management of documents to increase productivity or even security or compliance with regulations.
The “Designer” feature that has existed in PowerPoint for a while is now coming to Word Online, enabling you to easily create documents with a consistent look and feel. As well as suggesting Themes that can be applied, Designer will also suggest formatting fixes where inconsistencies are identified. This is only available in Word Online and not the desktop version.
In Word Online, Microsoft is also moving the “Open in app” command so that is under the “Mode” menu, where you can switch between Editing, Reviewing and Viewing modes. A minor change, but one that is sure to confuse a lot of people.
If you use Microsoft Forms within your company, then you can now target Forms at specific staff or internal groups. Prior to this, a Form was either available to all staff or could be used anonymously outside of your company.
Microsoft Productivity Score provides insights about how your staff are using the Microsoft 365 platform, such as how people communicate and whether there is a visible switch from email to more chat-based services. Productivity scores are compiled and grouped into different categories and are based on the services you use. Categories include Communication, Teamwork, Meetings and Mobility. These insights can help you understand and improve the adoption of the Microsoft 365 services your company has selected or help you to make the changes to working practices that you are looking to implement.
Microsoft Teams - create Virtual Breakout Rooms
Breakout rooms allow meeting organisers to split main meetings into smaller sessions for focused discussions. To see the breakout rooms option within your meetings, you must turn on the new Teams meeting experience by:
You can double check that the setting is setup correctly by starting a meeting and verifying that the meeting opens in its own window. All participants must be using the latest version of Teams. As a meeting organiser, once you are in the meeting you should see the breakout room option next to the raise hand control.
Reducing background noise in Microsoft Teams meetings
Users can set the noise suppression level before a meeting. Once changed, the setting applies to the next call.
The four settings are Auto (default), Low, High, and Off. They are accessible from the profile image > Settings prior to a meeting and from More options ... > Device settings during a meeting.
When left on the default setting, Auto, the Teams app sets noise suppression based on ambient sound.
Improved Teams meeting experience on iPhone
Microsoft is improving the Teams experience on iOS devices with a new presentation mode, the ability to see more participants, and the ability to see shared content and a spotlighted participant concurrently.
Scrollable participant tray
Makes it possible to see more participants. The current default grid allows iPhone users to see up to 8 participants, and up to 9 participants on tablets. With the new scroll-able participant tray, phone users can see 15 participants, tablet users can see 20 more participants.
See your audience while presenting from phone and tablet
Currently for mobile users in a meeting with shared content, only 1 active speaker is visible. With this update, users can now see both the shared content and participant tray at the same time. In addition, Microsoft has added a visual indicator around video active speakers, and made nameplate display more accessible.
Microsoft Teams - control the duration when overriding your presence status
If you occasionally manually override your presence status, then you will be able to define how long you want a presence state to remain active. This Teams setting overrides other events like calendar meetings or calls.
Access the duration option and then select a time
Add comments to your Microsoft Lists
Your users will soon be able to add and delete comments on list items. Users can view all comments on a list item and filter between views that show comments or activity related to an item.
Users can see which list items have comments when they access the list home page.
By default, users will see a new comments pane alongside the list item form when they access a custom list. Users can toggle the comment pane visibility by clicking or tapping the comments icon . When comments hide, the pane does not collapse.
The pane will be closed by default for lists enabled by Power Apps.
Personalised "My Feed" web part for SharePoint
SharePoint pages and sites can be more relevant to individual users by adding the My feed web part. The My feed web part will show as a new option in the web part toolbox.
After it has been added to a SharePoint page, the My feed web part will show a mix of content from across Microsoft 365, based on what's likely to be most relevant to the current user at any given time. Only content that the user has permission to access will be shown.
Benefit from Artificial Intelligence with SharePoint Syntex
Microsoft SharePoint Syntex uses advanced AI and machine teaching to amplify human expertise, automate content processing, and transform content into knowledge.
SharePoint Syntex will deliver new user experiences to work with content through content centres and AI models.
SharePoint Syntex mainstreams machine teaching, enabling your experts to capture their knowledge about content in AI models they can build with no code. Your experts train SharePoint Syntex to understand content like they do, to recognise key information, and to tag content automatically. For example, a contract processing expert can teach SharePoint Syntex to extract the value of contracts, along with the expiration date and key terms and conditions.
SharePoint Syntex then uses your models to automate the capture, ingestion, and categorisation of content, extracting valuable information as metadata. Metadata is critical to managing content, and seamless integration with Microsoft Search, Power Automate and Microsoft Information Protection enable you to improve knowledge discovery and reuse, accelerate processes, and dynamically apply information protection and compliance policies. SharePoint Syntex also delivers new experiences for analysing, managing and deploying taxonomies and content types.
More from Microsoft
Automatically design your Word documents
Microsoft is introducing Designer in Word for the web, a feature which offers formatting consistency and style variety for every document. Designer helps writers create documents with a consistent look-and-feel. It provides a variety of themes to help writers create documents that better communicate ideas visually.
To access Designer, open a document in Word for the web and then select Home > Designer.
Designer also detects formatting inconsistencies. Apply formatting fixes by clicking on a button at the top of the pane or allow formatting fixes to be applied automatically when selecting a theme.
In addition, Designer will improve Word document accessibility by using semantic styles (e.g., title and headings). Designer will eventually make additional suggestions as well.
The "Open in Desktop App" button is moving in Office online products
The Open in Desktop App command is moving to the Mode menu (Editing, Reviewing, Viewing) in Office for the Web. A teaching callout from Microsoft will help people learn the new location of the Open in Desktop command.
The command in its original location
The command in its new location
Target Forms at specific users or groups
With this update, Microsoft Forms owners will be able to easily collect survey responses from specific users or security groups.
Form owners will see a new response collection option when navigating to Share > Send and collect responses. When a Form owner selects Specific people in my organisation can respond, they can then specify one or more individuals or user groups by using their email address.
Forms on the desktop
Forms on mobile
Monitoring and measuring productivity across your firm
Microsoft Productivity Score, a new analytics solution that helps you understand how work gets done in your organisation, is transitioning from preview to general availability.
Users that have the Reports Reader role or higher permissions in the Microsoft 365 admin centre will see insights on the people experiences within your organisation as it pertains to communications, content collaboration, meetings, mobility, and teamwork. They will also see insights on technology experiences as they pertain to PCs, Laptops, Mobiles, network connectivity, and Microsoft 365 Apps health.
More from Microsoft
How Microsoft Productivity Score can help you build a more resilient business
Privacy controls for Productivity Score
Author: SO365 Insights
Microsoft's Office 365 cloud has all the tools a compliance consultant needs to help you work more efficiently and productively.
We've picked 4 of our favourites to give you a quick insight into how using Office 365 can improve your business, both internally and in collaboration with your clients.
tip number 1
Did you know Office 365 makes a great client extranet for consultants?
One of the key interactions a compliance consultancy firm has with its clients is the constant creation and reviewing of client documents and the interaction with the client to finalise and agree the documents.
Undertaking this process using email is cumbersome, prone to error and can lead to privacy and security breaches. What do I mean by this exactly?
For those consultants using Office 365, you can easily turn this into a secure extranet with your clients, where both parties can upload, share documents and work on them together, without the document ever leaving the "source" environment. Office 365 will even version control and audit every change, so it is easy to track who has amended a document and when, or if you need to, you can recover an accidentally overwritten version.
Clean, simple and secure exchanging of information with your clients. If you use Office 365, you already have what you need to do this today.
tip number 2
You can use Microsoft Teams to share, discuss and reply to client emails
One of the perennial problems a team of consultants faces is ensuring everyone has visibility of key emails and interactions between clients, especially when a consultant is on holiday and a colleague has to cover for them.
Our approach using Office 365 - we create a Microsoft Team for each client.
Not only is this a great environment to create and share documents, but each Team has its own email address that enables us to forward and reply to client emails, providing other members of the team with full visibility of the interaction. Better still, once we have forwarded the email to Teams we can internally have a quick and easy discussion without the need to send the email to everyone and then wait for their response. Even the discussion is visible to colleagues and auditable.
Microsoft Teams provides a clean, simple and secure way of storing, sharing, discussing and responding to client emails - whilst helping to keep unnecessary clutter out of everyone's inbox.
tip number 3
Maintain oversight of all client service activities
How do you keep visibility over who's working on which clients and which client service activities are running late?
Office 365 has an easy to use and configure "events" feature that enables you to create and schedule client events and activities, which can then be allocated to the appropriate consultants.
Using Office 365 gives you a quick, simple solution to increase visibility, management and oversight of this critical part of the service you provide to your clients.
tip number 4
Simplify the management and communication of regulatory news and information
The amount of regulatory change information that a consultancy must manage is forever increasing. What is worse, is that the activity is often duplicated across all consultants, who each keep and maintain their own set of records.
This is not a result of some sort of hubris, but because the central storage area for such information is often unavailable or makes it impossible to find information. Add to this the need to save and store documents multiple times because they logically apply to different regulations (or different folder structures) and it is easy to see how much wasted time this duplication of work costs a consultancy.
Office 365 provides clean, simple and easy to use document repositories that all consultants will use and benefit from.
Author: Chris Kaye