Workplaces have undergone a massive transformation in the last year, making it imperative for organizations to re-examine their workplace strategies. Most businesses are realizing that to survive and thrive in a changing world it is imperative to stay nimble and continuously adapt. Organizations also need to make the mental shift from thinking about work as a place and start thinking about it in terms of how to maintain the culture, how to connect employees better, and harness human ingenuity in a hybrid work world. Microsoft CVP Chuck Friedman emphasized that the “workplace of the future will help employees feel connected to their goals and feel connected to their organizations; it will help support employees in their careers while helping them find balance.“
When Microsoft announced its first employee experience platform, Viva, last month the focus was to help organizations deliver a great employee experience irrespective of where employees might be working, and integrating the platform with Microsoft apps and tools that the employees are already leveraging every day at work. Microsoft Viva is powered by Microsoft’s productivity cloud, aka Microsoft 365. It can be accessed by the employees from their home offices or elsewhere they might be working. This platform can be primarily experienced through Microsoft Teams and other essential Microsoft 365 apps such as SharePoint and Office. Further, Microsoft Viva is also designed to be extensible and would easily work with other HR and learning systems or apps outside Microsoft technologies.
Microsoft Viva is presently segregated into four powerful modules that enhance employee experience in their own varied ways. The modules include Viva Topics, Viva Connections, Viva Insights, and Viva Learning.
Four Pillars of Microsoft Viva
According to a Microsoft study, employees spend on average seven weeks per year only searching for information or recreating that information. Viva Topics is out to address this. It is a sort of Wikipedia for an organization that utilizes AI to automatically fetch and organize organization-wide content and expertise into relevant categories such as products, projects, processes, customers. Viva Topics is designed in a way to automatically surface topic cards as people work in apps like Office, SharePoint, and Teams. The module also builds on content from various Microsoft apps and services, as well as fetching information from third-party services like ServiceNow.
Salient Features of Viva Topics
- Summary Card: When an employee sees a unique term, the individual can simply click on a “Card” and a topic page appears with all the relevant documents, videos, and information about related people. Hover over a topic to read an instant summary of the information.
- Topic Page: Select the “Card” to open its respective topic page. The page offers a detailed view of all the information that Topic has collected about a certain term, including definitions, subject matter experts, the key documents, related topics, and curated discussions.
- Profile Cards: While many topics are automatically generated through AI, subject matter experts can also curate the information shown in topics through highly customizable websites called Topic Pages.
- Topics app in Microsoft Teams: Topic center inside Microsoft Teams delivers employees with the organizational information and suggested courses based on the topics they already follow.
- Integration with Microsoft Graph: Viva Topics uses Microsoft Graph to organize content into topics. It collates and organizes relevant information inside of Microsoft 365.
- Content Connectors: Over 130 content connectors are already available with Viva. And organizations can use Viva’s API to integrate even more sources of information.
- Upcoming Capability: Microsoft also confirmed that it is working on extending the Viva Topics beyond Microsoft SharePoint. Soon employees will be able to see topic highlights in other Microsoft 365 apps.
It’s common knowledge that employees who feel connected to their work are happier, stay at their job longer, and are more productive. However, a Microsoft study finds that nearly 60% of employees feel less connected to their team since the shift to remote work. Viva Connections brings together all the Microsoft 365 tools in one place. It delivers a single place for employee connections, through a company-branded app in Teams. Viva Connections delivers a curated company-branded experience that brings together relevant news, conversations, and other resources. Viva Connections enables teams to feel the connectedness of in-person work while working remotely.
Salient Features of Viva Connections
- Enables Connectedness: Engages with employees by providing them a personalized experience. It includes news and conversations and other resources all available in one place. It meets people in the apps that they already know and use, online or in Microsoft Teams on their desktop or mobile devices so that critical messages can cut through the noise and reach everyone.
- Integration with Yammer: Offers seamless integration with an organization’s Yammer communities. It enables everyone to stay connected with each other across the organization and contribute their valuable thoughts and ideas.
- Keeps everyone in the know: Helps organizations reach the company news to the right people at the right time. Using SharePoint scheduling, and audience targeting capabilities, management/HR can pinpoint announcements to employees based on the Azure Active Directory groups.
- Easy Deployment: Built on the existing Microsoft Stream, SharePoint, Yammer, and Microsoft Teams infrastructure, Viva Connections can be deployed with minimal time and effort.
- New Announcements: Chuck announced during the session that “Teams’ desktop experience for Viva Connections is starting to roll out and will be generally available to all Microsoft 365 tenants this month. While the mobile experience is coming later this summer.”
Microsoft research shows that over 76% of workers in the U.S. are currently experiencing burnout. It has never been more important for organizations to help their employees make the most of their time. Microsoft has designed Viva Insights with specific experiences for individuals, managers, and company leaders to help each one optimize their utilization of time.
Components of Viva Insights
- Personal Insights: Helps employees save time for focused work, one-on-one meetings with key colleagues, and regular breaks. It can be accessed in Teams and is now available in public preview. Microsoft confirmed that previously announced experiences like virtual commute will start rolling out next quarter in the Viva Insights app, and integration with Headspace will come later this year.
- Manager Insights: Provides managers with much-needed visibility into the work patterns that can lead to burnout and stress, such as meeting overload or too little focus time. The goal is to provide managers with tools so that they can help their teams strike a balance between productivity and well-being.
- Organizational Insights: Enables leaders to uncover organization-wide patterns and trends to address complex challenges and respond to change. These include well-being challenges but may also include things like space planning as organizations start re-imagining how their offices are going to work in a hybrid work world.
Salient Features of Viva Insights
- Builds Better Work Habits: Viva Insights helps you build better work habits, like reserving time in daily schedule for focused work, coaching, learning, and taking regular breaks. The virtual commute experience, coming this spring, will offer a preset reminder to wrap up a workday in a mindful way. With updates coming later this year, Viva Insights will also enable employees to unwind with guided meditation from Headspace.
- Delivers a Connected Experience: Allows employees to make the most of their working hours. With the new “Stay Connected” experience, employees can maintain strong relationships with important people in a work network, helping them prioritize regular one-on-one meetings.
- Allows Time to Concentrate: While all the collaboration is essential, employees also require some quiet time to concentrate. The “Protect Time” experience makes it easy to schedule a focused time so you can work uninterrupted during the day before it fills up with meetings.
Most organizations today want to embrace a culture of learning to keep pace with the change and retain great talent. A recent LinkedIn report found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invests in their learning and development. Viva Learning intends to make learning a natural part of every employee’s work, to help people build their careers, and to strengthen company culture. Viva Learning creates a central hub for learning in Teams, with AI that recommends the right content at the right time.
Salient Features of Viva Learning
- Catalyzes Learning: By bringing learning into Microsoft Teams where employees already spend their time, it’s easier than ever for employees to gain the information they need to grow their careers and contribute towards the success of the organization. Viva Learning lets anyone pin the Learning tab, in a Microsoft Teams channel.
- Promotes Learning: With Viva Learning, employees can search for and select content from the learning library to share it with team members where they’re already collaborating, communicating, and getting work done. Viva Learning adds the selected content to the Learning tab so employees can seamlessly transition from learning to other important work activities.
- Empowers Managers: Managers can also recommend courses to individuals, and of course, view everyone’s progress and see who has completed their learning objectives.
- Intelligent Learning Suggestions: Employees can customize and see what and how they learn in the “My Learning” view. From this section, they can select courses to help them grow and also find recommended learning tasks and personalized suggestions based on insights coming from the Microsoft Graph.
Microsoft Viva is rolling out for public preview later this month. Chuck feels “these announcements and modules are just the first step on a journey to improve the employee experience.”
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