Office 365 features you’ll wish you had known about sooner

If you still use dated productivity tools and apps, you’re wasting your time. Teams that use the right tools to collaborate spend less time on emails and more time getting work done. And this is why many people see Office 365 as a beacon of greater productivity. Whether it’s real-time co-authoring or Groups, everyone understands that Office 365 can help their business get on the same page. However, Office 365 has many exciting features that businesses may overlook. So let’s take a look at some of these features, and find out how they help you.

Office 365 Planner

On any given day, you can be part of several teams at once. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get swamped in different tasks, emails, instant messages, and files on a daily basis. Sure, you can use Microsoft’s traditional Project and Portfolio Management solutions to coordinate your team’s activities, but -- with little-to-no training on project management -- you’ll soon discover these applications can be overwhelming.

However, there’s a better alternative. Office 365 Planner introduces a more intuitive way for businesses to organize team projects in an easy-to-understand format. Planner lets you delegate tasks, share any task-related documents, set due dates, and chat with group members right from the Planner interface while keeping track of your team’s progress with visual dashboards. Think of it like a group to-do list that allows you to structure group work on the fly.

Office 365 Planner shines when you’re trying to balance out the workloads for each team member. Simply click Charts to see everyone’s progress and reassign people to another task by dragging and dropping their display pictures to a “bucket” in the Board view. Moreover, Planner sends email notifications when new tasks are assigned and works across mobile platforms, so team coordination isn’t confined within the office walls.

Built-in Researcher and Editor in Word

If you’re hard-pressed for time and need to crank out a report, blog post, or project proposal for work, Word from Office 365 has two helpful features.

A common mistake many people make is firing up a separate browser window to look something up on the internet. But using Researcher in Word, you don’t even have to leave your document. Located in the References tab, Researcher can help you find credible sources and content related to your topic and attribute it to your document with an automatically-formatted citation in just a few clicks. With Bing Knowledge Graph technology, most of the material is pulled from various research papers, encyclopedias, news stories, and medical journals, so your research isn’t solely based on Wikipedia findings.

After you’ve finished writing a bulk of the document, the built-in Editor feature can make suggestions to clean up your copy. Simply right-click on a flagged word or phrase and select Writing to view your options. At first, Editor will help you clarify unclear phrases and recommend better word choices. But by leveraging machine-learning technology, Editor will be able to suggest corrections for passive voice, tone, double negatives, consistency, and more.

Machine-learning in Outlook

Speaking of machine-learning technologies, Outlook’s Focused Inbox feature identifies what emails you find important and separates them from low-priority messages. Messages that matter most to you are then automatically moved to the Focused tab while the rest fall into the Others tab.

Dynamic PowerPoint features

In keeping with the productivity theme, Microsoft introduced several new features to help your presentations stand out. Dropping an image into a slide prompts PowerPoint’s Designer tool to offer an assorted mix of professional-looking slides. This cuts down on having to fuss over the technical details and gives you more time to prepare for your presentation.

Make your presentation seamlessly flow from one slide to another with the new Morph feature found in the Transitions tab. Simply duplicate slides you want morphed together, and move objects, words, or characters based on how you want to animate them, and click the Morph button to add some variety and movement. Transform shapes as you like and play around with character movement to create awe-inspiring animations.

Alternatively, you can create interactive, non-linear presentations with Zoom. This feature gives users the ability to navigate from one slide to another in any order that makes sense without having to exit out of slide show mode. Go to Insert > Zoom and select the appropriate zoom to easily transition between sections or slides. Our suggestion: select Summary Zoom for presentations that have more than one chapter or section, and use Slide Zoom for presentations that have fewer slides.

Collaboration features in Skype

If you are collaborating with your colleagues on a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document, you can click the Chat option to Skype with your co-workers. This enables you to give and receive immediate feedback from co-authors without walking over to their desk.

Skype Meetings is the perfect communication tool for small- to mid-sized companies. Not to be confused with Skype for Business, Skype Meetings is a free online meeting tool that allows people to communicate with minimal setup. By clicking a personalized URL, participants can simply attend the meeting straight from their web browser. During the call, people can share their screens and content, exchange instant messages, and collaborate on a digital whiteboard to produce results in an online meeting.

It’s definitely a good time to be an Office 365 subscriber. As a productivity suite that promises exciting features every month, Office 365 is a must-have for small- and mid-sized businesses. Whether you wish to spice up your PowerPoint presentations, need help with starting a report, or want some tools to boost collaboration, Office 365 has the complete package.

Here at WhiteOwl, we believe that access to the latest technologies can grant your business unprecedented levels of growth. And with so many companies unaware of the aforementioned Office 365 features, it’s about time you beat them to the punch. To stay on top of the latest Office 365 features and how they can benefit your company, get in touch with the WhiteOwl team today.

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