By Christian Wilmot, Client Technical Manager – EMEA
Effective collaboration is critical for organizations pursuing digital transformation. Gartner estimates that almost 80% of workers used collaboration tools in 2021, up from just over half in 2019 — a 44% increase.
COVID-19 and the subsequent shift to a remote workforce have accelerated this adoption. According to Christopher Trueman, principal research analyst at Gartner, “a long-term hybrid workforce model, cloud-based, personal and team productivity technologies, along with collaboration tools, will form the core of a series of new work hubs that meet the requirements of various remote and hybrid workers.”
Microsoft has responded by enhancing the collaboration capabilities of Microsoft 365. The ubiquitous cloud-based service (formerly Office 365) now allows users to share and edit the same documents together — all in real-time.
Many users have experienced a common roadblock when editing a document in Microsoft 365: “The document is locked for editing by another user.” This automatic message, a Windows file server version of control restraint, appears when multiple team members simultaneously require access or editing rights to the same documents.
With real-time co-authoring in Microsoft 365, once documents are in SharePoint Online or OneDrive, multiple team members can work on the same document at any time without affecting each other’s changes. All edits are automatically saved to the cloud.
Real-time co-authoring addresses many of the issues associated with server-based document collaboration. For example, it helps eliminate multiple document versions by reducing attachment sharing.
Microsoft’s co-authoring capabilities also provide a streamlined user experience. Users simply open and edit a document from Sharepoint; if another user also has the document open, both can edit it simultaneously.
When a document is saved, other users receive a notification that there are new edits and can view those changes immediately. SharePoint Server’s versioning and tracking tools allow authors to protect document integrity by rolling back any unwanted changes.
Instant Notifications With The @mention Feature
Microsoft 365’s @mention is another powerful collaboration feature. Users commenting on a document or presentation can add the ‘@‘ sign with another person’s name, and that user will then receive an email notification with a link to the document. This enables multiple stakeholders to comment or work on the document in real-time.
Reaping The Benefits of Real-Time Collaboration
Even though much of the workforce continues to work remotely (or in hybrid models), organizations are still seeing significant benefits from real-time collaboration. These include:
Enhanced Productivity. By collaborating on a single shared cloud-resident document, users can eliminate the confusion and needless communication associated with managing multiple document versions.
Improved Knowledge Sharing. Simplified collaboration allows teams to capture the knowledge and feedback from all team members, regardless of location. Broader collaboration creates more team ‘buy-in’ and typically yields more effective results.
Increased Job Satisfaction. Real-time collaboration supports a culture of inclusivity, especially for remote workers who may feel isolated from their teams.
Cost Reductions. Legacy collaboration methods often require physical infrastructure (equipment and office facilities) or travel. Virtual collaboration eliminates much of the cost and logistics associated with traditional teamwork.
Extended Reach. Digital collaboration tools allow users to easily collaborate with other teams, even outside their organization. This extended collaboration could include contractors, vendors, and customers.
Optimizing Your Microsoft 365 Collaboration
While Microsoft 365 provides powerful tools to increase your collaboration and productivity, proper setup, configuration, and user training are critical to getting the most out of the platform.
At Edge Technology Group, our team is uniquely qualified to help you optimize your Microsoft 365 environment. As a Direct Reseller of Office 365 products and Global IT leader, our team of experts can advise you on the products and services to generate efficiency and improve performance in your organization. Our tailored solutions and deep-domain expertise make Edge an industry-leading, award-winning MSP to the alternative investment industry.