June 17, 2021

The Post-Covid workplace: Recreating the Employee Experience with Microsoft Viva

Michael Cameron

In his leadership book, Paul Seger tells the story of how lorries (or trucks) disrupted the economy in the small Nigerian village where he grew up. Before the lorries came the typical market day consisted of basic products like vegetables, clay pots, fabrics, and herbal medicines.

However, when the lorries came to town the way things were traditionally done all changed. They had opened the village to the outside world and to a world of new products. The locals could now purchase things like radios, batteries, flashlights, sweets and so much more.

The lorries had created a paradigm shift in the village. The rules of business had changed. Previous assumptions were challenged. Traders had to recreate the shopping experience of the locals or else they would lose their business.

The advent of Covid brought a major paradigm shift

The advent of Covid in 2020 brought with it a major paradigm shift. Our previous assumptions about how we worked have changed. Social distancing has made technology more significant than before and at the same time turned physical workplaces into white elephants. Many businesses now need to recreate the employee experience.

Social distancing has made technology more significant than before and at the same time turned physical workplaces into white elephants.

In pre-Covid days employees would gather in the canteens, around the kettle in the kitchen, or in each other’s offices and share knowledge, build relationships, and create company culture. But in a post-Covid world people are working remotely from home.

So, “How does a company create a sense of culture and connection during Covid?” “How do they look after the wellbeing of employees when they’re absent?”

The centrality of the employee and the internet in the workplace

Since employees are integral to the heart of any business, many of them are seeking new ways to use technology to recreate what happened in the office. They are focusing even more on being “employee-centric” because employees, not their location is now king.

According to Jared Spataro and others, the time has come to acknowledge a fundamental truth: For so many people, the “place” where work happens—today and here on out—is the internet. The digital experience of working for a company is the employee experience.

Today’s businesses are focusing even more on being “employee-centric” because employees, not their location is now king.

Employee Experience Platforms (EXP)

However, creating a great employee experience is more challenging than ever because people are stressed, disconnected, and fearful. To assist businesses to create an employee-centric approach to digital work, Microsoft has created a new category of technology solutions called “employee experience platforms” or simply EXP.

According to a Microsoft eBook an EXP is, “a digital platform that puts people at the center by bringing together systems of work with systems of support into an integrated employee experience. It provides people with the resources and support they need to succeed and thrive, no matter their location.”

Meet Viva, the EXP of Microsoft

A few weeks ago, we kicked off a blog series called ‘Microsoft 365 for Dummies’ because we want to help people to understand the basics for their business. We’ve already answered questions like “What is Microsoft 365?” and “What is Microsoft Teams?” In this blog we’ll answer the question, “What is Microsoft Viva?”

Rather than bore you with a long painful definition of what Microsoft Viva is, I’ll share a hypothetical real-life scenario with you (This story has been adapted from an internet article). Hopefully, this will help you to better understand what Viva is and how it could potentially benefit your business.

Describing Microsoft Viva with a real-life scenario

Imagine a young woman who has recently graduated from university. She has just started a new job at a company that makes personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals. Having been employed during Covid, she works remotely and still has not met her new boss or colleagues in person.

One of her first tasks is to make masks for the new hospital in the area. However, she has no direct experience with PPE. Since Microsoft Viva is experienced through Microsoft Teams she logs on so that she can quickly learn how to make masks.

But where does she begin? In the past, she would have had a full onboarding orientation at the office (and perhaps been taught how to make masks!). Now she sits at home and all she has are chat apps, a bunch of cloud platforms that don’t seem to fit together, and a nest of poorly labeled file folders, half of which she can’t access.

Fortunately, her company has invested in Microsoft Viva. The knowledge she needs seems to find her! In Teams, she comes across valuable data, suggested topics, and content from leading learning-management systems. She gets a message from a colleague about a mask-making acronym. She hovers over it, and a card appears to tell her what it means with a link to their LinkedIn profile. Then, she gets an email from HR about a free mask making course.

This scenario has tried to describe rather than define what Microsoft Viva is capable of. In short, we could think of Viva as an effective digital employee experience which pulls together the right information and connections to the right person—and puts these at people’s fingertips, right in the flow of work.

Four Modules

Microsoft Viva consists of 4 modules: Viva Insights, Viva Topics, Viva Learning, and Viva Connections—with more on the way.

1. Viva Insights

This new unified app in Teams give leaders, managers, and employees data-driven, privacy-protected insights that help everyone work smarter and thrive.

2. Viva Topics

Viva Topics uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify knowledge and experts and organize them into shared topics. Topic pages surface as cards right in the flow of work in Office and Teams.

3. Viva Learning

This empowers people to gain targeted skills in the apps they already use, so everyone can learn and grow. It aggregates content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, your organization’s own custom content, and trainings from leading content providers like Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, and edX.

4. Viva Connection

Viva connections does what it says. It keeps everyone informed and inspired to bring their best to work every day.

A 30-minute deep dive

If your company is looking to create a sense of culture and connection during Covid and looking to use the Microsoft Teams hub and Viva apps then check out this 30-minute conversation on YouTube for a deep dive.

At Syntelo we use the latest Microsoft 365 applications to provide other businesses with swift, scalable, and secure solutions that will help them to accelerate their business goals, save them unwanted costs on software and devices, and give them peace of mind regarding cybersecurity all in one unified service and flexible contract. In the next blog we’ll answer the question, “What is Microsoft Yammer?”

As always we’d love to hear from you to see how we can help you begin you’re your first steps with Microsoft.

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