Five Usability Tips for Team Collaboration in Office 365

Familiar Online Tools to Encourage Communication and Collaboration

Among the more robust and cost-effective online tools, Microsoft Office 365 products continue to be a mainstay for professionals and business organizations.

Included in Office 365 are familiar online tools everyone is using today, like discussion boards, blogs, and wikis that are necessary for team productivity and collaboration. And spur-of-the-moment video meetings, teleconferencing, and chat will help to accommodate different user preferences for getting in touch as needs arise. Here are five usability tips and examples to help you grow through communication and collaboration with others in Office 365.

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Office 365 Quick Setup for Team Sites

Team Site in Office 365
Used with permission from Microsoft. Screen capture/Ann Augustine. Used with permission from Microsoft.

Team sites in Office 365 offer advantages for teams to utilize SharePoint Online to set up and access document libraries, and create lists of calendar items and tasks, among many others things. Have you set up a team site? If possible, try to have two people serve as site administrators so there is always a backup person available to manage user permissions and to know what’s going on to help others on the team. Office 365 includes templates for team site design, or teams can custom design their own pages with logos, graphics, and color themes.

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SharePoint Document Workspaces

SharePoint Document Workspace
Used with permission from Microsoft. Used with permission from Microsoft.

If you're not familiar, document workspaces in Office 365 is also part of SharePoint Online technology. SharePoint Online enables customization of subsites or document workspaces of team sites to access project specific documents, check-out and check-in documents in the document libraries, and notify others of changes. No need to email documents or track down other users to find missing files. Also, the workspace includes discussion boards to post questions, discuss projects, and work toward common goals.

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Online Meetings using Lync Online

Screen capture/Ann Augustine. Lync 2010 Attendee or Web App. Screen capture/Ann Augustine. Lync 2010 Attendee or Web App.

Lync Online, included in Office 365 is the kind of app that enables everyone to participate in online meetings. Today, people require access to productivity tools via web browser whether they're at a desk or in a remote setting using a mobile device. Lync Online will make it easy to host or join a meeting now or a scheduled meeting at a future date. Inviting external guests not using Office 365 is possible through the Lync web app or Lync online attendant application. An entertainment promotions company provides an example how they're able to connect with internal team members to make progress designing a promotional stage schematic with digital requirements.

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Office Web Apps to Create and Share Documents

Office Web Apps. Used with permission from Microsoft. Office Web Apps. Used with permission from Microsoft.

Cloud-based software called Office Web Apps enable your team to create Office documents on the go and collaborate ongoing among team members, colleagues, and customers. Do you always need desktop files? Office Web Apps give users the ability to create, edit, and share documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) from a web browser or upload desktop files to work on, anywhere and anytime-Office 365 is the document repository. The Outlook Web App is also part of Office 365 to access and administer email using Exchange Online. In this example illustrated by Coho Vineyards, the owner describes updating price lists using Office Web Apps in real-time during an online meeting, wherever the team happens to be.

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Intranet/Extranet and External Website

RII’s Model Intranet
© Reed Integration, Inc. Employee Club social networking. © Reed Integration, Inc.

Any size organization needs to keep everyone informed through company news, external press releases, case studies of work your company has done, job opportunities, social networking, and so on. Employee engagement through a company-sponsored intranet can provide the tools to foster a culture of collaboration. Office 365 enables you to host a project subsite as well, serving as an extranet to share access with external partners. You may build and maintain your external website using templates in Office 365 or custom design your own to match your intranet or extranet; web hosting is included in the Office 365 price. In this example of a custom designed intranet, Reed Integration, Inc. manages employees' knowledge management resources and an employee social networking club, a virtual meeting place for employees.