Microsoft Viva Future of Remote Work

Microsoft Viva – Future of Employee Experience and Engagement

A lot has changed in the recent times. Even as employees start going back to work, how we work is permanently transformed by the pandemic. Many enterprises have adapted to remote and hybrid work. The need to connect and engage with employees has become more critical than ever. The organization focus on improving the employee experience, can directly impact employee engagement, retention, customer satisfaction and a company’s financial success.

Six key elements for a great employee experience

Microsoft Viva

Microsoft recently announced the new Employee Experience Platform, Microsoft Viva – the next-gen evolution of technologies in Microsoft 365. Microsoft Viva helps enterprises engage employees, prioritize their wellbeing, enhance their skillsets, and enable leaders to drive better decision-making across their businesses.

Microsoft Viva is aimed at enhancing the employee experience for remote work and provides an integrated solution from within Microsoft Teams allowing organizations to deliver the key capabilities needed to engage employees from a singular application.

Microsoft Viva has following four components:

Viva Connections: Viva Connections was released in late March 2021 and is continuously evolving. It started with the desktop experience within Microsoft Teams, and the mobile release is coming somewhere in September 2021. The best part about Viva Connections is that it comes with your SharePoint Online license. If you have Microsoft 365 subscriptions, including SharePoint Online, you will be licensed for Viva connections. Viva Connections creates a personalized experience based on the employee’s persona.

Viva Connections

Now, all this will not be done entirely automatically because Viva connections consider things like your SharePoint sites, Yammer communities, and Microsoft Stream content, so it requires you to have these set up beforehand to maximize its potential. Viva Connections integrates your SharePoint online portal within Microsoft Teams, thus completely changing the experience you have with Teams itself. Viva Connections is a branded employee app in Microsoft Teams. It is a gateway to your employee experience, with personalized news, communications, tasks, people, and resources. It also comes with dashboard for actions and reminders.

In addition, users can participate in Yammer communities, making Yammer something that is probably finally going to be embraced by more organizations. When it comes to Live Events and Videos shared on Connections, the exciting part will be the automatic AI transcriptions generated so those who prefer to have subtitled content in their native language can consume it that way.

More capabilities will be added over time. In our opinion, Connections is fantastic, but the mobile release is going to make the experience much more accessible and probably will make employees more likely to consume the content due to the way that it's designed - almost as if it were a social networking application, just for your intranet instead.

Viva Insights: Viva Insights is an AI-powered tool, which can be installed through Teams apps and leverages the Workplace Analytics subscription. Insights can be split into two modules: personal insights and manager/leader insights. Personal insights contain two features: "stay connected" and "protect time." The stay connected portion uses AI to help you not fail to meet your commitments, and lets users prioritize specific tasks associated with critical deliverables - let us say your managers or key clients.

Insights delivers personalized and actionable insight and helps address complex business challenges with data.

Viva helps you set a meeting frequency option with your colleagues or clients. Viva Insights will remind you of the meeting, and even if you were to miss it or let's say you have a conflicting event at the time of the meeting - it reminds you to reschedule with a prompt action.

The AI also finds commitments requests and follow-ups mentioned in your email, either by you or the people you are speaking with, and then it suggests tasks accordingly. If your important contacts have mentioned you specifically on Teams using "@Mentions," it collects and gives you easier access to it. If you have any upcoming meetings that you've forgotten to RSVP, it gives you a task suggestion to get that done as well.

The second portion of personal insights is aimed at improving your productivity. It is called "protect time," which lets you use focus time to block out unnecessary notifications that could distract you from getting your work done. Another nice thing about insights is the dashboard, which lets you do simple things like praising your colleagues, or it just reminds you to take a break, giving you some breathing exercises integrating with "Headspace" - the meditation and sleep application.

Manager and leader insights are aimed at managers and leaders, giving you two sections called "my team" and "my organization." They both provide a statistical overview of your team. It gives you recommended actions or best practices that you can implement to improve certain aspects of your team or your organization. It's mainly aimed at giving you a good look at your employee's habits and how they may affect their effectiveness. More than anything, bringing this up with your employees can make them feel as if you were invested in their routines and their well-being. This all results in bridging that gap in communication between employers and employees.

Viva Topics:

Employees spend lots of time finding for content and information. They need a solution which helps them provide the required info without constant interruptions. Viva addresses this issue and helps organizations around knowledge management. Topics builds on Microsoft 365 and applies AI to identify knowledge and experts from across your organization and categorize them into shared topics.

Topics help in significantly reducing the amount of time people spend looking for information. Users will create use topic cards, topic pages inside topic centers - which are areas containing consolidated information on specific topics that your employees may want to access at any given time. It does this by using Microsoft's AI technology so that you do not have to manually create any of these content pages, which many organizations do use communication sites or content management applications.

The AI not only organizes knowledge into topics but also automatically creates topic pages for each topic. Let's look at an example - say that your organization has developed a solution for "Return to work," and whenever the term "Return to work" is mentioned in Teams conversations, SharePoint sites, and in your entire Microsoft 365 environment, the word gets underlined, and you can hover over it to be shown a topic card which gives you information - like the people who are involved, who may have some knowledge on that particular topic, resources related to the issues. If you click on the card, it will take you to a topic page that will show you a description of the topic - alternative names and acronyms for it and more resources. You can use it to better understand that subject in detail. Instead of worrying about spending excessive time training them, you can let Viva Topics do kind of the hard work for you.

Of course, you will have to set the descriptions and acronyms manually, but the AI does the rest of the job automatically. Viva Topics is a user-based license, so you will have to purchase individual Viva Topic licenses for anyone thinking of taking advantage of the feature set. Microsoft is also working on having this work with applications other than Office 365, so in the future, you will be able to integrate it with external applications and even external content management applications using content connectors and APIs.

Viva Learning: Viva Learning provides a consolidated view for organizations into different LMS tools that they might have deployed. Viva Learning brings the training content together into Microsoft Teams, so your employees can easily access the material. Microsoft has partnered with Cornerstone Coursera, Pluralsight, Edx, Skillsoft, SAP SuccessFactors, and LinkedIn learning courses available online to make Viva Learning the perfect consolidated learning center. Viva Learning helps make learning a natural part of both every employee’s daily work and company culture.

With Viva Learning, you will be able to assign courses for your employees from within Microsoft Teams and track the completion status of the course. You will also be able to create a custom selection of courses within your Microsoft Teams channels and tabs, and as an employee - under the "my learning" tab. Viva Learning creates a central location for learning in Teams, with AI that recommends the right content at the right time. You will be able to see content that has been explicitly assigned to you. You can also view the details about the course and like or bookmark them for later consumption, and you will also be able to search for learning content from anywhere within Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft's Viva, an employee experience platform will help solve the problem on business productivity and create a thriving culture with engaged employees and inspiring leaders. Let us discuss and show how Microsoft Viva empowers your people and teams to be their best.

Vikram Longani

Sr. Presales Solution Architect- M365

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