Webinar Recap | Boosting Productivity for Teams with Viva

Thank you for your interest in “Boost Productivity by Making Teams the Headquarters of Your Digital Workspace with Microsoft Viva” If you were able to join us for the webinar, we sincerely thank you for being there. We hope you had as much fun learning how to increase productivity in Microsoft Teams by using Microsoft Viva as our speaker did sharing his knowledge with you. 

Didn’t get a chance to catch our session live? We’ve got you covered.

This Session:

If you want your digital workspace to be more efficient, look no further than Microsoft Viva. Viva is made up of different modules that are loosely connected, and it’s designed to work primarily within Teams to help you get the information you need to do your job well without as much context switching. Viva Connections, Topics, Insights, and Learning can help you boost productivity and create a better framework for information sharing. Eric Overfield, the CPO of PixelMill, walked through the four main modules of Microsoft Viva and how organizations can use Viva to help their employees work better.

  • Episode Takeaways: 

    • Aggregate relevant information
    • Build dashboard cards
    • Stay informed on the go
    • Make your knowledge accessible 
    • Contextualize company information 
    • Assign people to certain topics
    • Know when to use third-party solutions 
    • Focus on the employee experience 
    • Monitor potential burnout
    • Help your employees upskill

    Show Links:

Key Takeaways

11:41 – Aggregate relevant information

The goal of Viva Connections is to bring together relevant news, conversations, and resources to give people the information they need to work well.


“If you go to Microsoft and you see how they describe Viva Connections, they’re describing it as this curated, company-branded experience, so they say. It’s supposed to bring together, it’s looking to bring together relevant news, conversations, and the resources like the links that you need to be able to get to the apps that you’re using within your organization available on the devices that you are using every day, meaning like desktop and mobile. So the way this looks is that Viva Connections is made up of lots of pieces. This is where it can get fun and confusing, and you’re going to find every module can be a little fun and confusing. And if you’re trying to think through the whole picture, the modules, as I said, are not perfectly related to each other. They’re not supposed to be, they are separate ideas and components that, brought together, bring together this employee experience, this digital workspace that your employees are going to use.”


15:11 – Build dashboard cards

Adaptive card extensions or ACEs allow you to build custom dashboard cards, and the development model is fairly simple.


“I’ll talk about what might be really good dashboard cards. Now there are a couple out of the box from Microsoft, but they’ve created an extensibility model within the SharePoint framework, called, ACEs, the SharePoint framework or SPFX ACEs adaptive card extensions, which allows you to build your own custom cards as long as you’ve got a developer development team, or you’re developing yourself to be able to build these. I have been building these for clients personally as well, and I’m finding the development model to be actually pretty simple, but there’s definitely some weird caveats. So if you’re going to start developing your own ACEs, they’re not quite normally as complex as web parts, in my opinion, because the branding is much more simplistic. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but you can get some pretty quick line of business application data points within there. You can talk to graph real easily, and as long as you have a good idea of what your ACE should do, your adaptive card within the dashboard should do, often it is not too difficult to get that data there to be visually appealing. And there’s lots of examples that have already been built for you as well.”


23:20 – Stay informed on the go

The Viva Connections dashboard helps you stay informed about your projects and meetings even when you aren’t in the office.


“The dashboard is really good if you’re going into the office, if you are between conference rooms, if you’re between meetings on the go. It’s something that can be really good on a mobile device as, ‘What am I supposed to do today? What are people waiting on for me?’ So like, where are things and how can I quickly get things that I might need quickly between a five-minute window? The dashboard could help with that. So what does that mean? Things like, what tasks do I currently have due? Do I have any upcoming training that I need to worry about? How many vacation days do I have left maybe? Other people seem to hold onto that stuff. Time logging, a quick thing within the dashboard, it’s kind of like a quick link that will take you to log time. Maybe if you have to create a ticket for something into service now, you need to get the Wi-Fi code for guest users or something like that, maybe an alert or general alert or reminder, expense reporting. I mean these are all things that if I had these links in a single spot, and I had a card that could have multiple layers, I didn’t talk about something called the L2 it’s a separate card, where I can get to some general data to understand more what’s required of me right now, where it helps me get to more than just a link to something on a mobile device on the go.”


29:26 – Make your knowledge accessible 

The goal of Viva topics is to help you find groupings and patterns of data. When data is more accessible, it becomes more useful.


“So much information within our organization, it gets lost. It gets stuck in folders and archives, even worse just in our minds. And I go through this personally right now, because I’ve got content for products and projects I’m working on. And I don’t remember exactly where they are, were they over in marketing, were they over in the executive side, were they in management side, were they over in the public product area? And it can be hard to pull some of this stuff together. And the idea that Viva Topics is to help us find these groupings and these patterns of the org and help create topic cards, topics within your organization that AI can help discover, and it can help pull information together. But really the power is when your team helps get together some humans, some people get together and help curate this information and get this institutional knowledge to your users in the way they work, in the context of working, which is also super cool, when they need it. Meaning when they’re reading a team’s post, when they’re reading email, it’d be really cool to get some of this knowledge to quickly come out so when you’re reading an email about project X, you would have access to get more information about project X right there in Outlook, right there in Teams, right there in SharePoint even.”


35:13 – Contextualize company information 

Every company has its own language. But with Topics, AI links relevant information to company jargon so you can learn as you go.


“What I’m most excited about at the Topic’s center and the ability to be able as you’re searching that topics appear, I really want to see them within the context of Teams and Outlook and Yammer. Like to me, that’s going to be where this really, really makes sense, where I can get these topic cards so that I could learn about all of these silly acronyms that my organization has. Many of our clients, they have hundreds of acronyms. They have hundreds of things that a new person would never know what they are, and learning the lingo, the language of the organization can take just so long, and Topics can help with that. So as you’re reading a message and you learn it and you just see someone say, ‘Oh yeah, this and that and project X, such and such,’ project X would be basically a clickable link right there without anyone having to make it clickable. The AI is doing this for you, Viva Topics is doing this for you. And you can learn about what project X is, and it’s curated by people, and it can make a lot of sense.”


37:25 – Assign people to certain topics

Viva Topics requires human organization. This consists of a general librarian to manage the program itself, as well as individuals assigned to keep an eye on one or two smaller topics.


“Viva Topics is only going to work if you’re able to dedicate people, assign people to Viva Topics and they are given time within their day, within the workweek, within the work month, to be able to work within it. You’re going to need two really strong roles. One is a general librarian. Someone’s going to have to manage this. They just generally need to manage topics, when the topics come in they need to help understand, is this a real topic? They need to be able to reach out to someone and say, ‘Okay, I can see this looks like a topic. The AI thought this is a topic.’ And basically help create those topic pages. Then you need people who would be assigned to actually own a given topic or own topics. And they can help curate it. Most sorts I’ve seen can not have one librarian or three to five librarians that manage all of it. Really you need someone managing Viva Topics itself, and then you’re going to need people assigned to given topics to own that topic. I’m not asking for hours and hours a day or a week or a month out of these people, but at least to own the project X topic, to be able to, ‘Yes, this is what’s going on here. Here’s the key people. Here’s the pin documents that are most important. Here’s the main context for it.’ And that’s about it. And then just basically maintain what probably should be theirs anyhow. And then the librarian just generally keeps everything flowing and keeps the whole system in place.”


43:16 – Know when to use third-party solutions 

With Microsoft you don’t have to use third-party solutions, but they can still come in handy. You have to determine if it’s worth it for your company specifically.


“Microsoft has been working very heavily to be able to not require you to have a third-party solution. The third-party solutions, what I find where they add a lot of value is they do have a lot of extra web parts often, if those things are of interest to you, that might be interesting. Some are really good at provisioning, so they help provide provisioning components. Although, now a lot of people looking to do provisioning within Teams that would then also provision within SharePoint, there’s quite a few competitors out there at different price points and whatnot. So generally to answer your question, I would say that, yes, I believe that a canned solution is not required for everybody. I believe that the solution is good enough for many people. I still believe there’s value for many of you who are using canned solutions. I certainly wouldn’t just throw it away, because you might be getting web parts or provisioning or extra layouts and templates to be able to make things work. So I would just strip it out and I’m getting much more interested in being able to do Teams provisioning where Teams is where the actual provisioning happens. And I do want my SharePoint, I would like provisioning on SharePoint components as part of that provisioning solution. And so then I don’t need a canned solution as much.”


44:45 – Focus on the employee experience 

The goal of Viva Insights is to help individual employees find and protect focused time to work on important projects.


“Insights is much more about the employee experience aspect of me. It’s much more about helping you understand yourself and your workday, helping you find and protect focus time. Anecdotal and many research has shown that we work better when we can spend a few hours, two to four hours on a topic, or on a project or on something. When we’re breaking up our day with a meeting every 20 minutes, which too many of us are doing, it’s very hard to get work done. So Insights is trying to help you find that focus time, helping you reflect on your day and how you’re doing, helping send praise. These are important things to be doing to, to be able to send that note like, ‘Hey, so-and-so of my project did really well today. They really did a great job on that project.’”


45:53 – Monitor potential burnout

The paid version of Viva Insights helps the leadership in your organization recognize and prevent burnout in employees.


“Viva Insights also has a very related and unrelated component, which is by the way not free. That’s the insights for managers and leaders. And the idea there is that version of Viva Insights is designed to help the leadership within your organization head off that frustration of teams that are maybe burnt out, or overworking, or not fitting within more general work hours to help see that happening and maybe help get in the way of it and help say, ‘Hey look, we need to help solve this problem.’ And it does that using and thinking through data privacy as much as possible. The idea is that the managers and leader insights that they get into their team is ossified data. It’s not that, ‘Oh, hey, Michael’s working 60 hours a workweek. You might want to think about it.’ It’s more that the people within your team that you’re managing, here’s the averages that we’re seeing. On average, five people are working overtime and stuff. The idea of being it’s much more aggregated and it’s not so specific.”


55:06 – Help your employees upskill

Viva Learning helps people learn more skills with their free resource library. You can even link your own resource library with theirs.


“Viva Learning is all about upskilling, and this is a big deal. Viva Learning is not for compliance training. You cannot force people to take Viva Learning modules and then record their results and then say, ‘Yes, they are now compliant.’ Viva Learning’s all about upskilling. It’s about learning more skills. Typically that would be within the organization. Now the way this works is Viva Learning is free if you use just the 125 courses and resources available provided to you by LinkedIn Learning in Microsoft. Now you can also link to your own learning library for free. That’s the only thing for free, but that’s the free step. If you want Viva Learning premium, you can get a lot more stuff, which is connecting to third-party content providers. And many of you already have LMSs that already have upskilling content. And many of them already are designed to connect with Viva Learning. It’s just going to cost you $4 per month per user. Things you also get though at a premium is course recommendations and progress tracking. So it’s easier for managers and whatnot to recommend courses to their team and then help track progress as well.”

Check out our next webinar on Thursday, June 30th!

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The Microsoft Viva modules are revolutionary tools used to aid one's work stability and improve their digital workspace experience. Find out more by tuning into to Eric Overfield's "The State of Microsoft Viva & The Digital Workspace" PixelMill Webinar!

Not sure what an Employee Experience Platform is and how Microsoft Viva fits into that? Then check out the PixelMill Webinar "The state of Microsoft Viva and The Digital Workspace" by Eric Overfield!

Get excited for our next episode of the #PixelMillWebinars! In this session:
-Power Platform 101:Power Automate, Power Apps, Power Virtual Agents, Power Pages & Power BI  
-Power Platform in action on an intranet  
-Power Platform adoption best practices 

Imagine having all the tools and resources you need to be successful in just one place! Eric Overfield digs deeper into the details of Microsoft Viva and how Teams + Viva can make that dream a reality. Watch the latest PixelMill Webinar to learn more!

Get excited for our next episode of the #PixelMillWebinars! Our CPO, Microsoft MVP & Regional Director Eric Overfield breaks down:
-Each of the 9 GA Viva Modules
-How the modules integrate
-Successful practices when rolling out Viva in your organization

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