Calling All Right and Left Brains! Collaboration Tools in Office 365 Can Help

Have you ever noticed that when it comes to team collaboration tools, you’re often looking at either choosing tools that support the left or right brain? There are great tools for mapping out project schedules and task management, such as Trello or Asana. Or there are tools to support highly creative and visual right-brainers. Tools like ConceptBoard or MindMeister, for instance, create a venue for creative thinking and brainstorming. MindMeister even says it can ‘playback’ an entire evolution of your mind map to show colleagues where your ideas originated. Scary, right?!

While these tools can aid collaboration and productivity across specific activities, their siloed approach – targeted at left and right brain activities – leaves much to be desired. What should digital teams do if they’re looking to bridge the gap across their collaboration efforts?

Sometimes the answers are much closer than you think! New business tools added to Office 365 include innovative features that promote things like creativity and engagement plus action planning and time management. Let’s look deeper into how Office 365 can help your team build momentum and synergies across the organization.

Using data to find and fix what’s stalling us

Half the battle in being productive is identifying and removing obstacles that hold us back. Office 365 is tackling this issue by encouraging users to apply analytics to stalled collaboration efforts. Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics features can help identify challenges currently hindering efficient collaboration, and they let users set up ‘change programs’ to eliminate these obstacles, all with features to measure teamwork progress.

On top of identifying obstacles to collaboration, Microsoft also offers a feature called ‘nudges’ under the MyAnalytics toolset. Nudges, or tips, are generated based on data collected about how users are collaborating.  For example, as you add meetings to your calendar, the MyAnalytics tools will remind you to be sure to set aside time for focused work, before accepting additional meeting requests.

The application goes further by letting you see and block up time chunks directly from the inbox. Nudges are also generated if you repeatedly send after-hours emails to coworkers. Hear that Bob? Or it will identify patterns if certain colleagues are impacted outside of regular working hours, unevenly. The tool also uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to remind users of tasks you promised over email to complete for coworkers, and vice versa. Office 365 will highlight these ‘promised tasks’ and encourage users to complete them, before taking on new responsibilities.

A single hub for collaboration

Instead of the divide-and-conquer approach to collaboration, where right and left brainers rely on point products like GroupMe, Microsoft Office 365 is looking to bring all these pieces together. Tools like Microsoft Teams gives teams access to chats, group brainstorming, task sharing, and more, from within a single application. For instance, Groups in Office 365 let you choose a set of people that you wish to collaborate with, even adding outside guests. You can set up a collection of resources for those people to share, such as an Outlook inbox, shared calendar, document library for collaboration, and more. Users can create Office 365 Groups from Outlook, Outlook Mobile, SharePoint, Planner, and Teams. For chat-based collaboration, users would probably start the Group from Microsoft Teams. For teams working on schedules, emails, and calendars, they’d probably start the Group from Outlook. It also saves time because users don’t have to assign permissions to all those individuals because adding members to the group gives them permissions they need.

A truly collaborative spirit

We all know that true collaboration requires cross-team and cross-brain collaboration and information sharing. In a digital age, collaborative tools like Office 365 can help teams bridge this gap and better manage all efforts across the creative and analytical spectrum. Companies that can find ways to leverage unified tools can help their teams share information faster, solve problems, and use data and AI to make better decisions.

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