Introduction?

Technology has changed the way we work. The workplace is no longer a physical location that we need to go to. Instead, companies now operate through digital workplace platforms which can be accessed from anywhere, as long as you have a laptop / tablet / mobile and an internet connection. A digital workplace is the basic set of digital tools employees use to get work done. It can be anything from instant messaging to virtual meeting tools, enterprise social media tools, and even automated workflows. It is easy to assume that your company has a digital workplace just because you use some components of it. But to truly gain benefits from a digital workplace platform and get measurable results, you need to implement it in its full form. That starts by understanding what a digital workplace really is and how it can help your organization deliver measurable business value.

Introducing Microsoft 365?

With Microsoft 365 for business, connect employees to the people, information, and content they need to do their best work, from any device. Depending on your subscription plan, the benefits of your Microsoft 365 for business subscription may include: The latest versions of Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Email and calendars using Outlook and Exchange. Group chat, online meetings, and calling in Microsoft Teams. 1 TB of OneDrive storage. Frequent updates and upgrades not available anywhere else.

Using Microsoft Outlook?

With Outlook on your PC, Mac or mobile device, you can:  Organize your email to focus on the messages that matter most.  Manage your calendar to schedule meetings and appointments.  Share files from the cloud so everyone always has the latest version.  Stay connected and productive wherever you are.

Managing Data on a Microsoft Cloud – Microsoft OneDrive

Video Conference, Meeting and Collaboration with Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork in Office 365. This topic will provide an overview of how to use features within Teams such as chat, online meetings, calls and more. Learn the core features of Teams and how it relates to other Office 365 apps to make your team more productive.

Data Collection and Analytics with Microsoft Forms?

Microsoft Forms allows users to create custom surveys, quizzes, polls, and questionnaires. It also can send an invitation to other users asking them to fill out the Microsoft Forms using a web browser on any device or computer. The creator can review the results in real time and can perform analysis on the collected data.

Planning and Task Management with Microsoft Planner?

Microsoft Planner is planning and task management application. It is a simple light-weight project management and to-do app. Enables users and teams to: Create new plans, Assemble and assign tasks, Share files, Communicate and collaborate with other users Receive progress updates via various means

Electronic Note Taking with Microsoft OneNote?

OneNote is a Microsoft Office app similar to Evernote or Dropbox Paper, for taking notes and storing information. OneNote lets you create notebooks for different topics, with each notebook featuring any number of sections and unlimited pages. Within a OneNote notebook, you can take notes, type or write with a stylus, add drawings and photos, store links, and more. Microsoft OneNote is an app that is designed for research, note-taking, and information storage. Similar to apps like Evernote and Dropbox Paper , it lets you store text and images in free-form documents which you can keep private or share with others. OneNote is a part of the Microsoft Office Suite, along with programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Lesson 2 – Selecting a Digital Workplace Platform

Selecting a Digital Workplace Platform

 

The decision is final: your business has begun an intentional journey toward digital transformation. The next crucial step is adopting a digital workplace, but this can seem vague. What does a digital workplace actually look like? How is it different from what you already use?

Searching for digital workplace tools is even more overwhelming. At first glance, the applications look very similar. However, differences between solutions could mean days more training for your employees, or more app subscriptions to fill in missing features or meet communication needs.

Who wants to spend time learning to use an application that’s going to fall flat, or waste resources on software turned shelfware? Here’s a guide to the ten must-have features of digital workplace software to help set your organization on a successful path to digital transformation.

 

 

Main Features of Digital Workplace Software

1. Modules for a variety of work

More than two-thirds of workers waste up to 60 minutes a day toggling between apps on the job. The remedy? A digital workplace where employees can automate processes, build project boards, handle helpdesk cases, and collaborate—all under one tab.

When business processes are on a unified platform, locating information is so easy. Instead of searching across numerous applications, just type what you’re looking for in a power search bar, whether it’s a file, discussion post, or user contact information.

2. Stress-free integration

Digital workplace software won’t cover all a business’s needs, such as customer relationship management, but CRM systems and other essential software can be integrated using API technology; no coding required.

Integration is not about pasting together an assortment of tech tools but connecting strategically selected software to achieve higher productivity. If you have some single-function systems, they should be moved into the digital workplace to save on subscription fees and toggle time. Essential tools, like accounting software, link to a digital workplace, streamlining reporting and data transfer procedures.

3. No-code workflow and project management

Get straight to work with a no-code, intuitive solution where employees can easily create simple or complex workflows.

Features like drag-and-drop forms and Kanban boards provide visual avenues for teams to solve problems without having to wait for an IT department to write a new program.

4. Pre-built apps for instant self-service

Pre-built apps save time for companies determined to automate workflow and adopt a digital workplace. Processes like budget approvals, purchase orders, and employee onboarding follow similar steps, no matter the type of business. Employees can install a pre-built app to get started and make adjustments as needed.

5. Contextual conversations

A digital workplace allows employees to tag others in conversations within the related task or project, making it easier to track correspondence. After a new team member is introduced, they can view all the previous comments and get up-to-speed in a matter of minutes.

6. Collaboration channels

For discussions not directly related to work, employees tag colleagues in collaboration channels groups, listed by category. Top-notch tools include emoji and GIF options in conversations and enable employees to exchange information through polls, surveys, and announcements.

If employees need to cut down on the digital chatter, management can offer them the option to switch off notifications for channels less relevant to their specific tasks. Managers who want to be sure conversations stay work-appropriate should be able to moderate posts and maintain control of discussion channels.

7. Smart reporting

A truly digital workplace includes a variety of reporting options to track and improve process efficiency. Look for digital workplace software with aging metrics, pivot tables, or custom reports to meet your business’ requirements.

8. Access control options

Where does confidential data fit into a public digital workplace? Security features control who can view sensitive fields and information. For conversations that must be kept under wraps, secret collaboration channels are an easy way to hold discussions privately in the digital workplace rather than revert to email.

Investigate the ease of altering viewing permissions. Some platforms provide access control but make the procedures cumbersome.

9. Workflow and formatting flexibility

  • Hold team members accountable for maintaining automated workflow progress using custom parameters for SLAs, deadlines, and escalations.
  • Depending on a project’s stage, the ability to switch from Kanban boards to a spreadsheet layout or activity stream is beneficial.
  • Employees resolving helpdesk cases need the freedom to create individualized case resolutions and to change the quick info displayed on task cards for greater agility.
  • Manually assigning tasks that always go to the same people is a redundant time-buster. Select a tool where you can set up recurring tasks to trigger at regular intervals for repeating processes.
  • Custom attributes provide unique categories for users to add intelligence to how items get assigned, saving time in task distribution. Other types of tasks can be allocated through formulas or groups to get the right job to the right person.
  • In teams where members are working remotely, account and user-level preference settings for language, working days, currency, and time zones are valuable.

10. Limitless portability

To work effectively with global remote teams, the ability to carry your work anywhere is compulsory. Cloud-based digital workplace software not only gives your employees more versatility but considerably increases your access to talent around the world. Part-time and gig workers play invaluable roles in an organization by filling in work gaps or providing additional human resources in seasons of growth.

A digital workplace mobile app is another necessity for today’s on-the-go culture. When in-house management presence is required to make approvals, processes drag. A simple tap on a mobile screen moves workflow along, ultimately impressing clients and vendors with speedy service.

Best Digital Workplace Platforms

These days, there are a number of cloud based digital workplace platforms available on the market to choose from and adopt. Microsoft 365 (Office 365), Google workspace and Zoho workplace are most widely used platforms worldwide and below we have tried to briefly explain one by one.

Microsoft 365 / Office 365

Microsoft 365, previously known as Microsoft Office 365, is designed to help you achieve more via innovative Office apps and Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services, backed with world-class security.

Microsoft 365 for business comes with innovative communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams that allows your teams to chat, call, and host online meetings. It also includes OneDrive cloud storage with advanced security options to help you store and collaborate with ease.

With Microsoft 365, you can:

Be productive anywhere: With tools for real-time calls, chats, and meetings, you can get work done from anywhere you are. Microsoft 365 offers the following productivity and collaboration tools:

  • Microsoft Teams – Allows quick and seamless file sharing, calling, hosting online meetings, etc.
  • OneDrive Storage – Get 1 (one) TB of OneDrive storage built on cloud, allowing you to access your documents on-the-go.
  • Powerful Office apps – Get access to smart and powerful Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint within Microsoft 365.
  • Outlook and Exchange – Get smart email and calendaring capabilities with Outlook and Exchange.

Secure your business: Powered by Microsoft’s global security standards, you can safeguard your business data with built-in security features for remote work. Microsoft 365 protects your business data by:

Defending against cyber threats – Protect your business against phishing, malware, ransomware, spam, and other cyber security threats.

Providing data protection – It allows you to guard your business information against cybercriminals, accidental deletion, and unauthorized access.

Remote work security – Protect your company’s data even when it is accessed from your employee’s personal devices.

Setting up identity and access management – Quickly and easily set up and manage different users and devices. Focus less on management and more on innovation.

A single cost-effective solution: Microsoft 365 acts as a single cost-effective solution with streamlined collaboration tools, IT setup, and optimized costs.

With Microsoft 365, enterprises can introduce digital workplace strategies to improve collaboration and communication and to enable employees to work together effectively, irrespective of location or device. It is responsive to the key trends in the digital workplace: remote work from anywhere with shrinking budgets, bring your own device and enables “do more with less” mentality.

With Microsoft 365, enterprises can introduce digital workplace strategies to improve collaboration and communication and to enable employees to work together effectively, irrespective of location or device.

Office 365 is responsive to the key trends in the digital workplace: remote work from anywhere with shrinking budgets, bring your own device and enables “do more with less” mentality.

 

 

Google Workspace (formerly G Suite)

Google Workspace has been designed to help people transform the way they work via smart business productivity and collaboration tools.

It offers everything you need to get anything done in one place.

It comes loaded with all the productivity apps you already are familiar with – Gmail, Drive, Docs, Calendar, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and many more. It is one of the best email and productivity solutions in the market that allows its users to create, communicate, and collaborate swiftly and seamlessly.

Google Workspace offers a deeply integrated user experience. It is designed to help teams collaborate more effectively. It also allows businesses to power new digital customer experience and gives more freedom and flexibility to connect to the frontline workers.

Google Workspace includes several tools for enhancing collaboration, teamwork, storage, and security.

Make faster decisions: With smart and interactive tools like Calendars and Gmail, you can quickly set-up schedules, send meeting invites, connect to a live video conference from any camera-supported device.

Real-time collaboration: Google Workspace comes with all apps that were available in G-Suite – Doc, Slides, Spreadsheets, etc. Your team can work on a single document at the same time from wherever they are located.

Cloud storage: It allows you to store all your important work-files and documents virtually at one place with secure access from your phone, tablet, or computer. You can quickly invite others to edit and review the documents, no email attachments required. All file updates are automatically saved in Drive.

Secure Access: With security features like two-step verification and single-sign-on, you can rest assured of the safety of your data. It allows you to archive email messages and chats and control how long they are stored.

Zoho Workplace

Zoho Workplace is designed to meet the demands of the evolving workspaces. It is built to unify and centralize your team’s workspace. It presents simple file storage and tools for streamlining your team’s communication.

It offers productivity-enhancing apps and features. Some of the apps include Email, File Management, Spreadsheet, Chat, Presentation, Social Intranet, Online Training, Online Meeting, etc.

The Zoho Workplace offers a comprehensive suite of apps that can help you and your team organize work more efficiently and collaborate more easily.

Office Productivity tools: It allows you to take your office suite wherever you go – whether at home or while travelling. You can access and work on documents, presentations, and spreadsheets on-the-go.

Team collaboration: With tools like Workdrive, ShowTime, Meeting, you can host meetings, conferences, and webinars. The files and documents can be stored in the cloud, thus making them readily and easily available.

Unified Communication: The Zoho Workplace provides several business communication tools like Mail, Cliq, and Connect. The Mail app is more than just a simple mailbox. It allows you to tag your colleagues to share emails with them. There are built-in applications for Calendars, Notes, Contacts, and Bookmarks.

Continuity and convenience: The Zoho Workplace is built on the premise of making routines automated using AI (artificial intelligence). It allows you to get more done with less. Backed with cloud technology, it also supports remote working models.

Google Workspace vs. Office 365 vs. Zoho Workplace at a Glance

 

Google Workspace

Microsoft 365

Zoho Workplace

 

Now known as Google Workspace

Now known as Microsoft 365         

Buy Zoho Corporation

Pricing

$6 – $18 per user, per month

$5- $20 per user, per month

$3 – $6 per user, per month

Cloud Storage

30GB – Unlimited

50GB – Unlimited

50GB – 100GB

Email storage

30GB – Unlimited

TB

30GB – 100GB

Business Email

Gmail

Outlook

Zoho Mail

Word Process

Google Docs

Word

Zoho Writer

Spreadsheets

Google Sheets

Excel

Zoho Sheet

Presentations

Google Slides

Powerpoint

Soho Show

Video Conferencing

Google Meet

Microsoft Teams

Zoho Meeting

Team Intranet

Currents

Sharepoint

Zoho Workdrive

Administrative tools

Calendaring

Browser-based versions

Mobile App Versions

Desktop Versions

X

X

Note: Since we understood that Microsoft 365 / Office 365 is adopted in many government offices in Ethiopia, we will entirely focus on Office 365 services and tools in this training module.

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