By Marc Israel, office division group lead marketing & operations |Microsoft West, East and Central Africa & Indian Ocean Islands
If you live in one of the 18 African countries with access to Office 365 – and you’ve given the service a try – you would already have seen how useful it is for improving productivity. But are you using it to its full potential?
I’ve put together five top tips that I think are critical if you want to get the most out of the service.
1. Sync Outlook across devices
Your Office 365 subscription helps you keep all your devices in sync. It allows you to install your Office 2013 desktop applications on up to five different devices, meaning you can run the service on your phone, tablet and laptop. By using ActiveSync, you can access your same customised email accounts across all of your devices. No matter which device you switch to or used last, you will find your Outlook mailbox and other folders looking exactly as you left them.
2. Declutter your inbox
Have you ever tried to focus on an important piece of work, but unimportant emails keep popping into your inbox, vying for your attention?
Office 365 helps you prioritise your work with its Clutter feature, which works as your personal assistant on Outlook. The Clutter feature studies your unique actions and habits and prioritises your emails for you, so that you can focus on what needs your immediate attention and deal with the rest later. You can train the system to better sort messages correctly by using Clutter actions to mark mail items or move them to the Clutter folder. The Clutter folder is easy to access with a single click, but your inbox remains uncluttered, improving your productivity.
3. Access documents on the Web
Your Office 365 subscription gives you access to Office Web Apps, so that you can work on all your Office files like Word, Excel and PowerPoint online. You can create a working space wherever you are by using the Web Apps together with OneDrive, which is especially useful to keep productive in those otherwise wasted moments between meetings or even on a plane. All your up-to-date data is stored in the Cloud and all changes are synchronised automatically across all your devices each time you click ‘Save’. If you have been working offline, your changes are synced with the files stored in the Cloud as soon as you are back online.
4. Share and collaborate online
Producing the best work often comes from collaborating effectively, but when your team mates are scattered around town or even a busy office, this can be quite a challenge. SharePoint Online is an Office 365 tool that allows you to share files, documents, spreadsheets, presentations and folders, and collaborate on these online in real time, in a secure environment. You can also manage access levels to allow permission to ‘Read Only’ or to edit, depending on who you are working with. Working together in this way is no different to editing a document as you normally would, except you can see when someone else opens the document, as well as which paragraph they are working on and their comments.
5. Connect and communicate wherever you are
Office 365 includes mobile apps for Microsoft’s communication platform, Lync. That means you can chat with multiple contacts at the same time, by text, voice or video, and you can do so no matter what device you’re using or where you are. No more excuses for missing that important meeting. You can also interact during your Lync meeting by sharing your desktop, programs, files and presentations, and use the interactive whiteboard for a virtual brainstorm. Usefully, you can also record your Lync meetings and share meeting notes directly to OneDrive so that you can keep track of exactly what happened.
These five simple hacks have made me so much more productive and efficient, while allowing me to be flexible when it comes to where when and where I work. Office365 is a new way of thinking because it is based in the Cloud, but for African users it’s a way to get ahead of the pack. Subscribe for Office365 to take your first step forward.