For successful hybrid working, employees need to be able to work from anywhere and on any device. An employee experience platform, or a central hub if you will, provides all the tools employees need to complete their work. Whether that’s writing a document, connecting with peers, accessing applications or consuming strategy and communications.
Having undergone constant and rapid enhancements as the world adjusted to hybrid working, Microsoft Teams is now the place where employees start their day. Just think there are now over 250 million monthly active users of Teams and over 500,000 (Tom Talks) organisations using it.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Firstly, Microsoft Teams is not an intranet and it’s not designed to be one. It’s not possible to build an intranet in Teams. However, for businesses, that doesn’t mean it’s a case of Microsoft Teams vs intranet and having to choose one or the other. Rather, you can reap the benefits of bringing both together by introducing aspects of your intranet into Teams, via SharePoint.
Here is Microsoft’s description of Teams:
“Microsoft Teams is a collaboration app that helps your team stay organised and have conversations – all in one place in Teams - Find channels to belong to or create your own. Inside channels you can hold on-the-spot meetings, have conversations, and share files.”
According to Microsoft, Teams will be at the heart of an employee’s day-to-day working experience: a hub for teamwork, to get things done, connect with peers and find information.
This is the ideal Digital Workplace when used in conjunction with an intranet. A Digital Workplace provides the launch pad for all the applications that your employee needs in order to do their job, including apps like Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Workday, and of course, Microsoft applications and services.
OK, but has Teams killed off SharePoint?
No, simply because Teams is not an intranet and SharePoint, in effect, is. SharePoint is the best app to provide a foundation for your intranet. It’s here to stay and provides breadth, depth, content management options and there is increasing support for the integration of third-party applications to round out its capability even further.
What part does Viva Connections play in all this?
Viva Connections brings your intranet into Microsoft Teams, the very place where your employees begin their working their day.
Viva Connections (just one of four Viva modules) provides the interface between Teams and SharePoint. For your employees, this means it’s easier to share, collaborate, and chat – all in one place. In fact, it’s even easier than before, and even more powerful.
Users can discover and search for relevant content, sites, and news from across your organisation right from the Teams app bar. Easily share and collaborate on shared content in Teams chat and channels.
Microsoft Viva Connections can also make processes easier for your people by enabling:
- Specific resource highlighting: Viva Connections for Teams desktop uses the company-curated global navigation links along with personalised content from your intranet.
- Navigation of intranet resources in Teams: Navigate to all modern SharePoint pages and news within Teams without losing context. All files will open in Teams’ file preview window.
- Search for intranet content in Teams: On the home page, you can search for intranet content in SharePoint using the Teams search bar. Search results will be displayed on a SharePoint site in the browser.
- The easy sharing of content: Features in the SharePoint site header will dynamically display tools that help users collaborate, depending on the type of content a user is viewing. Tasks, such as sharing a link to a page in a Teams chat, can be made much easier.
Viva Connections really is the gateway between Teams and SharePoint. It provides a great platform for intranets and offers a range of basic components that can be assembled. Fresh, our solution accelerator for SharePoint intranets, is a flexible platform that offers a number of additional benefits to your basic intranet.
Primarily focused on supplementing what’s available from Microsoft with a catalogue of additional components and applications, it can deliver a ready-to-go intranet that simplifies admin actions and user experience considerably.
So, should I get an intranet or a Digital Workplace?
Well, if you have Teams, you already have the makings of a Digital Workplace. So, the next step is to build upon what you already have in place.
Think of like a football team, or any team for that matter. The tools, i.e., apps like Yammer, Salesforce and of course your intranet, are your ‘players’. The coach (that’s Microsoft Teams) brings the players together in the best formation to create a winning team (and that’s your Digital Workplace). The coach and the players need each other to succeed.
Forgetting the analogy for a moment, the statement above applies: if you have Teams you have the foundation of your Digital Workplace. You just need the tools that bring real value to that workplace, and that includes an intranet.
So, you can see why third-party solutions for intranets, combined with Teams, are an attractive proposition.
The challenge for organisations using these solutions is managing the increasing overlap between Microsoft Teams and their existing standalone intranets. These solutions can appear to be in competition with each other, increasing friction points for users.
The roadmap for Microsoft Teams is rich and exciting with new features being added all the time and at pace (Microsoft acquires Ally.io to improve employee experience by aligning people’s work with team goals and company mission – The Official Microsoft Blog). Working with a partner like Content+Cloud and the Fresh solution means you never needing to worry about what feature is being rolled out next.
Fresh Intranet has been designed specifically to add genuine value to the SharePoint, Teams and Viva apps, providing a user-friendly home for your organisation’s information within the security of Microsoft 365.
Branding, site structure, managing content and configuration are provided by our consultancy team with support and customer success following immediately after launch.
What about mobile, should I have a dedicated app?
Simply put, yes. Users are now expecting a consistent user interface and tools on all devices, whether that’s a desktop, mobile or tablet. Microsoft understands this, and has released apps for Teams and Viva Connections.
The Viva Connections app is now updated and available for PC as well as a mobile devices. It is the gateway to the employee experience, customised to include company branding, it offers a personalised, integrated mobile app that brings together news, conversations, key resources, and actionable tasks and items into single employee home. The mobile experience is enabled through the Microsoft Teams mobile app, so there’s no need to download and configure a separate app.
“Viva Connections provides an extensible platform directly through the dashboard experience, with many independent software vendors and partners having already created pre-built integrations for IT, HR, and employee experience solutions that customers can plug directly into their Viva Connections experience.” Mike Holste, senior product marketing manager for Microsoft Viva.
The user expectation, combined with ever-increasingly flexible working patterns, means it’s critical for your employees to have access to your company’s information across a range of devices. We’ve found this is particularly important for front-line workers.
A Teams-centric intranet provides the missing link for your Digital Workplace. Teams supplies all the interfaces to Microsoft and third-party applications, while an intranet solution provider, such as Fresh, delivers a user-friendly intranet that’s available on desktop and mobile.
Most importantly, Fresh helps you deliver a Microsoft-compliant solution quickly, and keeps you on the Microsoft roadmap, enabling you to focus on your employees and your business.
If you want to know more about Teams-based intranets, book a demo with us.