Microsoft vs Covid-19: How tech is helping amidst the chaos


Microsoft vs Covid-19: How tech is helping amidst the chaos

As we watch the rest of the world move to remote working, we are all preparing ourselves to hunker down into the isolation of our homes.  However, many organisations are just beginning their journey to the modern workplace and may face significant disruption to their business and financial wellbeing in the coming months.

As a Microsoft Partner, we wanted to share with you some useful resources available to you and your company right now, no matter where you are on your journey to the cloud.

  1. Crisis Communication App

First up, The Crisis Communication App is a single portal that equips companies in delivering all COVID-19 related communication to their users, as well as updates from reputable sources such as WHO or the CDC. Employees can report their work status (whether they are working from home or sick) or send requests for help. The app is built on PowerApps and is ready to be rolled out very quickly (within one day) to the whole workforce for no cost.

During this uncertain and challenging time, your workforce has an expectation that they will be well-informed and feel supported. The app provides:

  • A platform for companies to push out updates and communications, targeted by country or group
  • Offers a single source of truth for information
  •  A reference point for emergency contacts
  • A way to easily update your working from home status and out of office message

NB: Microsoft has temporarily changed the PowerApps licensing requirements for this app by classifying ‘push notifications’ as a standard connector not requiring premium licenses. 

  1. Free Microsoft Teams

“Teams is a pivotal part of the remote work experience, and Microsoft is committed to making Teams available to everyone,”

Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft Corporate Vice President

Microsoft has offered Microsoft Teams (Office 365 E1) free for 6 months as a response to a new working dynamic. Companies can get on board with Microsoft Teams rapidly to allow their remote employees to keep in touch by sending instant messages and making calls, sharing files and collaborating with their teams in a central, secure location. Since 31st of January, Microsoft has seen a 500% increase in Teams meetings as companies rush to adopt.

If you want to get started on Teams yourself sign in here with a work or school email address, or here with a Gmail or Outlook email. If you want to roll out Teams to your whole organisation, contact your Microsoft representative.

If Teams is completely new to your company, here are some free training resources available at Microsoft LearnRegionally delivered webinars and Role-specific learning paths

  1. Health Bot Service

The Health Bot Service is an AI-powered, compliant healthcare experience that can take requests, ask about symptoms and assist in getting people to trusted services and information. The specific COVID-19 template has built an up-to-date medical library based on CDC recommendations for concerns and care navigation. The service can integrate into channels such as Teams, Facebook, Webchat etc. The Health Bot Service is a great tool to organise request loads from the business and triage information requests.

For more information, click here.

  1. Focus Assist

Disclaimer – this is not a recent feature specific to COVID, but it’s more useful than ever with remote working. It’s difficult withholding a good work/life balance when we are literally working where we live. I envy those lucky few with a full office set up at home that can close the door on their laptop at 5 pm. But for some of us, it’s hard to not graze away on emails throughout the evening, jump on questions or feel a niggling sense of an unread notification.

Focus Assist is a handy feature that allows you to minimise or completely stop notifications. You can set up your hours of work and enjoy the tranquil relaxation of a noiseless phone after you have commuted from your dining table to the sofa.

We hope these resources are useful to you and take away (some of!) the stress of getting everyone working from home. We will remain online and will operate as usual throughout this challenging time. Stay safe out there everyone!

See here: https://news.microsoft.com/covid-19-response/ for the full bank of Microsoft COVID 19 response resources.

Laura Williams – UX Designer – Engage Squared

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