What happens when a large workforce is suddenly forced into remote work? Well I guess most of us have learnt the answer to that question since businesses all over the world have motivated their employees to work from home- an option that was once seldom sought after. In fact, 2020 has already seen mass adoption and increased acceptance (both begrudging and enthusiastic) of remote working.
Working remotely has, however, come with a lot of new and very big challenges and therefore with remote work on the rise, how can your organization manage your teams remotely? That and so many other questions have risen and therefore comprehensive reports that help organizations monitor their remote workforce by tracking Office 365 user activities is an absolute must. It is absolutely crucial that organizations must get deeper insights into their team’s Office 365 usage so they can truly understand if and how productive employees are with this new set up.
This has been driving a renewed interest in understanding how people are using Office 365. Organizations now more than ever, want to learn if people are saving content to SharePoint and OneDrive, if more are using Microsoft Teams for chat and online meetings, and how email usage is trending. Organisations also want to get the most out of their Office 365 by seeing if people are taking full advantage of the services for which they are enabled.
Office 365 usage reports can help answer these questions and many others. These types of reports need to cover Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint, Exchange, Viva Engage (Yammer).
Office 365 Monitoring – How to Track Output and Results
Microsoft Office 365 provides a host of tools that make it easier for teams to work remotely. But how do you know for sure your team is productive and actually using those tools to its full potential? To understand that, your organization needs an Office 365 monitoring tool that continuously tests the user experience, from where your users are located.
Let’s look at Microsoft Teams for example. The tools in Office 365 can help you and your team stay connected via chat and video. Microsoft Teams makes it easy to hold regular team meetings and improves collaboration and communication between team members. Organizations need analytics to monitor Microsoft Teams usage, because it is important to get data on things such as:
- Number of Teams calls
- Number of Teams chats
- Number of private chats
- Number of meetings
Organizations need to be able to look even deeper to see who is participating in these meetings at the department or individual level. Having a dashboard that lets you know who is going above and beyond and who might need additional training in their new office setting is absolutely pivotal.
In the case that the insights show that there is no activity, you will be able to dig in deeper to determine things such as is the email license going unused or is there just no email activity from that particular user, and to then intervene in order to drive productivity and collaboration.
Advanced reporting and analytics that can provide all the information you need to identify each employee’s level of engagement and effectiveness would be the most preferred, because it is very valuable if the company can see and review these insights to see how they change each day.
There are many other compelling reasons to track activity in Office 365. On a basic level, it can be used to ensure that employees are being productive on the clock. However, the best reason to track adoption and usage in your Office 365 deployment is to gain insight into how people are using Office 365 services on a daily basis when working remotely.
When productivity managers can quantify the impact that Office 365 offers to employees, it can provide information that helps the entire organization. Let’s take a look at the benefits that can be realized through adoption and usage data of SharePoint.
Enhanced Collaboration and Communication is possible with Office 365 – employees can access applications such as SharePoint (and also OneDrive) to continue to collaborate with each other, even when working remotely. If the IT team tracks the usage of these applications, it’s simple to determine which documents are being shared on which programs. This can provide valuable insights into employees actions in the different enviromnments and how to possibly assist and train them when they are not working productively.
With software that provides dedicated integration for collecting data from the platform, you can achieve fuller and deeper insights on key actions happening within your digital workplace.
Once you have started monitoring your teams’ productivity and usage, you will be able to identify potential training opportunities to support your team as they continue to work from home.
Performance Monitoring in Office 365
Office 365 offers a wide range of Microsoft products on a subscription basis, and employees rely on these Office 365 tools, email (Exchange Online), collaboration (SharePoint Online and Teams), cloud storage (OneDrive) and many other services. Many companies’ day-to-day business operations require Office 365 services to be available and to be performing well, even more so when working remotely. The last thing an organization needs is performance problems in Office 365 that will stand in the way of employees’ productivity and overall business goals. Companies do not want employees working from home complaining about things such as SharePoint Online pages loading really slowly or complaining that there is content they are having trouble finding.
Performance monitoring solutions can garner reports that you can use to better understand your user behavior and make improvements based upon this intelligent data. If there is in fact content your users are not able to find, you can optimize that content or improve the search scheme to assist your users in connecting to it. If you don’t have a lot of helpful content, it is a key indicator to start creating content to help your users get the information they need.
Good performance monitoring solutions should detect when many file operations on SharePoint Online are slow or not working. A holistic SharePoint performance monitoring solution will deliver end-to-end visibility into every component of your SharePoint farm: site collections, sites, web applications, web parts, content growth, databases, SharePoint services, logs, events, and more in order for
SharePoint administrators to:
- Monitor all aspects of the SharePoint infrastructure
- Get actionable insights for performance optimization
Another simple, yet efficient way to improve portal usability and performance, would be to ask users for feedback. There are many solutions that enable you to get valuable feedback in order to improve portal usability and performance. For more information on solutions with endless customizable ways to easily provide the most accurate feedback to inform you of where your portal’s performance can be optimized, be sure to check out our post: Understanding SharePoint Surveys: How the Right Techniques Can Optimize Employee Engagement.
Monitoring Security in Office 365
There’s a lot to be uncertain about in times such as these and it is hard to determine how long you will be working remotely, it might even become a permanent institution for many companies. For the time being at least, it’s important to make sure that everyone in your workforce is operating from a secure system, as well as taking steps to ensure overall remote workplace security.
From team collaboration to file sharing, ensuring a secure workforce is the most crucial measure to take into consideration when all your employees will be operating remotely. By using Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, your company can use cloud storage to securely house files and folders accessible to your whole team.
Some basics for securing your remote data
- Employees operating from unsafe WiFi networks
Organizations must express to employees that it’s crucial that they are accessing company information only when connected to a trusted and secured WiFi network. Consider updating your company policies, to require all employees to only a secured network. It is important to also recognize that even though a network is “secure” you still don’t know who is on it. It is important to monitor your data privacy to maintain security while there’s a higher potential for breaches.
- Employees may be working from home using personal devices
When working from home, employees may be logging in using their own PCs. This potentially leaves room for more entry points and intrusions. Organizations have to ensure that all team members using a personal device have the same level of security as company-owned devices. Be sure to closely monitor these devices while working under out of the norm circumstances.
- The need for secure logins
Being off the organization’s actual network, your employees should be even more conscientious about updating their passwords frequently, every 60 to 90 days is what is recommended by experts.
Operating remotely can pose as a challenge to many businesses during this period; don’t let your organization suffer by not taking the proper steps, because as the world’s most widely used SaaS platform, Microsoft Office 365 is routinely targeted by cybercriminals. Securing applications and services such as OneDrive, SharePoint and Exchange should therefore be a high priority.
For more information on securing data in the cloud and other security tips for your business’, be sure to check out our post: Securing data in the cloud.
Your organization can secure Office 365 with many of the security monitoring services out there.
For business applications to continue to be successful when users are working remotely, organizations have to ensure that employees are fully equipped, with all the tools and knowledge they need to maintain collaboration and productivity. Insights into usage and performance is essential to guarantee that business operations continue in spite of employees working remotely.
If the necessary insights are gained and action taken based on that, to establish that Office 365 is performing as well as possible and users are continuing to be productive and collaborative, then where they work from should not impact the organizations’ productivity. The secret is to be equipped with the right tools to maintain your productivity and creativity and it is important to use all available resources to monitor productivity, that will in essence contribute to remote work.