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6 ways to make virtual meetings more efficient

Thu, 10/20/2016 - 09:00

When was the last time you had an in-person meeting? Let’s face it: today’s work rendezvous are becoming increasingly more electronic. While online or virtual meetings can be convenient, they also detract from participant accountability by providing more room to lose people’s attention. When people are distracted, meetings lose focus and require more time for repetition.

To keep your meetings—and your schedule—on track, consider these six tips and transform your routine.

  1. Agenda action—Whether your meeting participants are located across the building or the world, it’s important to get everyone on the same page. While formal agendas may not be as in vogue as they once were, reinstate the practice. Include the meeting’s topics in the body of your calendar invite or email out a document 24-48 hours before the designated time. This will provide all parties the chance to set their expectations regarding the meeting goals. And yes—if you’re the recipient of a meeting agenda, read it! Even if you’re familiar with the project or discussion topics, you may learn important information about the perspectives or concerns on the table, and it’s never fun being blindsided.
  1. Prep your (Ps and) Qs—Whether your meeting has a set agenda or not, make sure you know what your goals are. Before the meeting, compile any notes or background information you may need to reference as well as any questions. Having a prepared list or set of bullet points will relieve the pressure of thinking of any questions on the spot as well as allowing you to engage with the discussion at hand. Feel free to jot down questions on the agenda if there is one, or set up your notes document ahead of time with initial goals or thoughts at the top. No matter your preparation style, following this preparation practice will ensure you’re reminded of your own agenda the day of the meeting.

  1. Troubleshoot your tech—Whether it’s your first online meeting or your millionth, make sure you know how to use your technology. Confirm how to dial in and that your speakers work. If you need internet to access your conference or your (meeting-related) email or notes, check that Wi-Fi! Initial frustrations often develop when that one person needs one more minute to access the conference line. Don’t be that cause—get to your conference room early and dial in. Even if you set your phone to mute until other people join, at least you can focus on the content of your talk rather than getting there in the first place.
  1. Sharing is caring—If you are reviewing any information with accompanying visuals or statistics or if you’re referencing external documents, make sure everyone can follow along. Set up a screen share so that you can direct your audience’s attention and keep everyone on the same page. This step may alleviate the “Wait! Where are we?” questions as well as the “Hold on, I have to get to the right page.” Sharing your screen eliminates the need for those pauses and moments of confusion. Just remember: if you’re sharing your screen, make sure to turn off any email, phone or messaging programs or notifications to avoid any uncomfortable announcements.

  1. Be direct—One of the challenges of online meetings is knowing who is about to speak or who needs to jump in. Based on the meeting participants and their personalities, virtual meetings can range on the spectrum of everyone talking over each other to long pauses after someone’s finished speaking. To avoid indistinct vocal jumbles or empty air time, frame questions specifically to other meeting participants. If people are working together or relying on other steps in the process to move forward, don’t be afraid to ask them specifically if they have anything to add or additional questions. By being direct with turning the conversation, you’ll ensure that you’ve maximized meeting time while allowing everyone to be heard.
  1. Personality perks—Online, phone or virtual meetings can be a drag—you don’t have body language to read how people are responding or whether they’re following along. To remedy the possibility of losing people’s focus, keep your personality primed. Be as personable as you would be in person—or more so, as the meeting requires. High energy will engage your audience and keep them tuned in to the topics at hand. They wouldn’t want to lose track, especially if you have a habit of asking people directly how they respond to a point. With everyone involved at the top of their meeting game, your meeting points will be addressed quickly, and you’ll cover more material in less time.

No matter the meeting format, there’s no need to get lost in the virtual shuffle. By being prepared and engaging your colleagues, your meetings will be clear and on target with your goals. Download The Ultimate Meeting Guide to get the info you need to hold meetings that people want to attend.

Related content

The post 6 ways to make virtual meetings more efficient appeared first on Office Blogs.

4 ways OneDrive can help you eliminate the version control headache

Thu, 10/20/2016 - 09:00

Successfully working on a team requires seamless collaboration—no matter where you are. You need to communicate effectively with all your team members and keep everyone on the same page. This can get chaotic during busy workdays, even for the most organized employees. The rise of remote workers has presented even more challenges for the modern-day workforce.

Businesses rely heavily on digital communication to collaborate beyond office walls, which poses new challenges for your team—especially without the right technical infrastructure in place. For smoother workflows across your company, it’s important to keep collaboration tight and file versioning to a minimum. Is your team experiencing any of the following versioning woes?

The version control problem

How many times have you seen files going from “v1_draft” to “v1_update” to “v2” to “final_FINAL.” Passing documents around to collect with everyone’s latest notes is sure to cause versioning anxiety. Even the best file naming convention can’t save us from the headache of constantly having to make sure we’re working on the most up-to-date document.

“Attachment size exceeds allowable limit”

Businesses use email as their primary mode of communication and it has become our go-to means of sharing information with each other. When the file you need to share is too big to attach, employees are stuck trying to find an alternative medium of sending it, or worse, splitting one file into multiple ones, creating even more clutter.

Is it safe to send?

If employees choose to find an alternative method of transferring files to each other, they could open your company and team up to potential security threats. Often the most convenient or free methods of sharing large files with team members aren’t the safest ones, risking your company’s intellectual property or exposing your employees’ devices to viruses.

Error: Low disk space

To keep a record of changes made to each document (and to ensure no versions get lost), businesses often save each new version to company servers or drives. Disk space can get clogged up quickly, especially if all members of the team are downloading and saving multiple versions of each file. This can cost companies expensive data storage.

So, where do we go from here?

Fortunately, the cloud has provided us with a safe and convenient solution to help address these frustrations, along with several others that we tend to face. Teams can work off single updateable files and store their work on the cloud to help reduce the pains of sharing, saving and storing files.

Allow your employees to focus on the work instead of the tedious aspects of digital file sharing and collaboration. Explore implementing a solution that reduces the time they spend on extraneous parts of digital collaboration and prevent wasted storage space.

Check out “The End of Versioning as We Know It” to learn more about the benefits of cloud computing and how to securely move your company to the cloud using OneDrive for Business Cloud Storage.

The post 4 ways OneDrive can help you eliminate the version control headache appeared first on Office Blogs.

One-stop shop for enterprise/IT pro content about Office 365

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 09:00

Are you in charge of getting your enterprise organization onto Office 365? We have the information you need to plan, deploy and manage Office 365 and hybrid environments. Find content about core Office 365, Office client deployment and Office 365 services (including Exchange Online, Skype for Business Online, SharePoint Online and more) all in one place at

We consolidate trusted, authoritative content from multiple Microsoft content sources into one convenient experience so that you can browse to the information you need:

  • Learn what’s included in Office 365 by reviewing the service descriptions.
  • Discover the types of scenarios you can support with Office 365 and hybrid environments versus on-premises server environments, and what else you can do if you integrate with Microsoft Azure.
  • View cloud architecture resources for identity, security, storage and networking and use test lab resources to work through your specific implementation.
  • Find out how to set up the services you need in Office 365, and how to manage them over time.
  • Review your choices for how to deploy the Office client applications to your users and get training resources for them.
  • Understand Office 365’s security and compliance capabilities created to meet the legal, regulatory and technical standards that your organization might have.

Find this content and more at

—Samantha Robertson is a content portfolio manager for the Office 365 content team.

The post One-stop shop for enterprise/IT pro content about Office 365 appeared first on Office Blogs.

Guide to inbox management

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 09:00

With hundreds (or thousands) of messages coming and going from your inbox each month, it can quickly get unruly. Outlook helps you take control and stay on top of what’s important. Here are seven Outlook tips and tools to help you overcome business email overload.

Focused Inbox

Your inbox should be your command center—helping you plan your day by staying on top of what matters. That’s why our Outlook team spends so much of their time improving your email experience. One of Outlook’s newest features, Focused Inbox, helps you focus on the emails most important to you. This feature separates your email into two tabs: Focused and Other—determined by an email’s content and the contacts you communicate with most. That way, all your less important emails are saved but out of the way, enabling you to focus on what’s most important first. To fine-tune the sorting criteria, just use the “Move to Focused” or “Move to Other” options.

Available on and Outlook for iOS and Android. This feature will soon be rolling out to Office 365 customers and Outlook on other platforms.


There’s now a better way to quickly identify action items for team members through email. Simply type the @ symbol followed by individuals’ names in the body of your emails. The @Mention changes the text color and style to call an item to the recipient’s attention. This helps you detect what emails require your response, as the @ symbol will appear in your message list when you’ve been mentioned in an email.

The @Mentions feature is already available in Outlook on the web and is available for Office Insiders using Outlook 2016 for Windows and Mac. Look for @Mentions coming soon for Outlook for iOS, Android and Windows 10 Mobile.


Outlook’s smart search has made it easier to find what you’re looking for—regardless of where the email is stored. This reduces the need to sort emails into folders, which can sometimes take more time than it saves. Outlook searches all email that is synced to your computer as well as stored on your email server, so you can find exactly what you need when you need it. Start typing a name or keyword into the search bar, and Outlook provides smart suggestions based on your previous searches and the content of your mailbox.


Outlook provides many ways you can organize your inbox to match your individual work styles or preferences. Make your emails more easily discoverable by taking advantage of features like colored Categories, Flags and Quick Steps. Categories allow you to assign a color to your emails, to assign them to a project or work group. Flagging an email will remind you to revisit later, and it will appear in your To-Do bar, Daily Task List within the Calendar as well as the Tasks view. Or simply use the Read/Unread options to come back to important items at your convenience.


Individually removing your email from each list can be a drain on your time. Luckily, Outlook can take care of this problem for you. Easily unsubscribe with just one click, without leaving your inbox.

Currently this feature is only available for Outlook on the web.


If too many emails are cluttering your inbox, the Sweep tool can help you quickly get rid of unwanted mail. Delete emails in bulk with the Sweep feature or create a rule for deleting certain emails so you don’t have to do it manually. Tired of receiving a store’s promotion? Sweep and block all future emails with just a few clicks.

Currently this feature is only available for Outlook on the web.

Mobile apps

Up your productivity by taking advantage of Outlook’s mobile applications, which provide access to the best Outlook features on your mobile device. The iOS and Android apps bring together the core tools you need to get things done—your email, calendar, contacts and files—helping you get more done even on the smallest screen. Easily send attachments, view and respond to calendar invites, and schedule emails all from within one unified app.

You can also triage action items right on your wrist with Outlook for Apple Watch and Android Wear, as well as interact with emails and calendar information.

Curious about how these features work? Sign up to use Outlook through Office 365 for a more powerful and productive inbox. Also, check out these resources:

The post Guide to inbox management appeared first on Office Blogs.

Accessibility in the classroom—tools that impact my students

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by Robin Lowell, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, special education, science and mathematics teacher, as well as teacher of blind and visually impaired students.

Creating a collaborative, inclusive classroom has many moving parts and pieces—and finding the right balance can be challenging. As a special education teacher, I am constantly on the hunt for technology and tools that give students with disabilities an environment that is personalized, differentiated and yet as close to their peers’ experience as possible. I have been an itinerant teacher, a distance education math teacher at a residential school and currently a resource room teacher—without the resource room. One goal of an inclusive classroom is to have all students working and collaborating throughout the day as much as possible, which takes planning, tools and creativity. When I work with my students and determine how to meet their needs, I think a lot about their accommodations rather than their modifications. The outcomes for a student can have a very dramatic effect on their learning.

In my accompanying blog post, “Accommodations versus modifications in an inclusive classroom,” I outline the important differences between accommodations and modifications to accessibly personalizing student learning. With Windows 10 and Office 365—free for teachers and students—I have been able to find and use many of the accommodations that I have been looking for making consumption of materials, content creation, collaboration and organization possible for students using the same technology and tools as their peers.

These tools help my students to consume content, create content, collaborate inclusively and stay organized.

Consuming content

With Windows 10 and Office 365, students can personalize how they consume content.

Learning Tools—Creates opportunities for accommodations for users, including listening and following along with the text instead of having the reading modified or shortened, which creates richer content for the student. A student can also use the dictate mode to create text for a paper or assignment. Learning Tools is a game changer. To learn more, read this blog post from Lauren Pittman, my fellow Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, and listen to her TeacherCast podcast.

Reading mode—Another tool that makes reading and consuming content much easier. Reading mode takes away all the distractions by stripping away advertisements and toolbars, leaving the user with a clean background and a clear font that is easier to read. I use this with my students with dyslexia, have ADHD or are easily distracted to help them stay focused and on task. Reading mode is available in in both the Edge Browser and Word.

Ease of access center—Allows the user to modify how their computer looks and how they access content. Over the last year, a lot of thought and effort has gone into improving the ease of access center experience for users. Office 365 usability in high contrast mode has been significantly enhanced, improving the user’s experience through bolder colors, cleaner graphics and increased usability with shapes and charts.

How to turn on High Contrast mode in PCs and use Excel Online with less eye strain.

Magnifier—The ease of access center allows the user to magnify the screen in three different ways such as “Docked,” which has a portion of the screen magnified; “Lens,” which is like a magnifying glass; and “Whole Screen,” which magnifies the entire screen. Turning Magnifier on or off, as well as increasing or decreasing the magnification, is now easier than ever.

Creating content

Creating, researching and reviewing content in an effective way is a great challenge for many of my students. Students who use screen readers struggle trying to get around the computer efficiently without using too many steps and clicks. When I introduced my students to the “Tell me what you want to do” feature in Office, I was a hero. To activate the feature, you can either click Tell Me on the ribbon in Office 2016 and Office Online or use the keyboard shortcut Alt+Q and type in what you need. For example, if you want to start researching a topic, just type in “Researcher” and it will take you to the feature you want within the Office application. Learn more about Tell Me here.

Researcher—A new feature in Word that helps students find reliable resources and content. Students have great ideas around what they would like to write but often struggle to get started. Researcher helps them overcome those mental roadblocks with access to strong ideas and supporting content. This will change the way my students start their research. Learn more about Researcher here. Note that Researcher is rolling out to Office 365 subscribers using Word 2016 on Windows desktops, so you might not see it yet.

Accessibility Checker—The Accessibility Checker tool scans a document for accessibility problems and is accessed from the Review tab in Word, Excel and PowerPoint for PCs and Macs. It is also available in Sway and OneNote. By the end of the year, it will be available in even more apps, including Office Online apps and Outlook. Learn more about the Accessibility Checker in Office here.

Simulation of the Accessibility Checker in Sway.

Editor—A newly released and rolling out feature in Word and Outlook for PCs. This tool helps students write impactful, collaborative documents with one clear and confident voice. It is a game changer for many of my students, especially those with dyslexia. Watch Editor in action here.

Editor in Word increases the likelihood of finding spelling corrections.

PowerPoint Designer—Often, students become so hung up on the design process when creating a PowerPoint presentation that the content itself becomes the secondary focus. PowerPoint Designer helps the user create beautiful looking slides without having to manually format pictures, create bulleted lists or place graphics. With an automatic image description service coming to PowerPoint early next year, photos that can be recognized with high confidence and the alt-text added automatically, allowing a screen reader to read the picture to the user. Learn more about PowerPoint Designer here.

OneNote—The app where many of my students choose to create content. They never have to worry about saving, and they have access to multi-modal forms of information. For example, a student can complete a worksheet by dictating answers into Learning Tools and copying them into the worksheet in Word or in OneNote. Previously, the task would’ve been modified or the student would’ve been altogether excused from completing it. With OneNote, however, the student has the same opportunity and access as the rest of the class and is empowered to complete the assignment in a timely manner. There are great trainings, samples and more for OneNote on the Microsoft Educator Community here.

Collaborating inclusively

Students with disabilities can struggle with group work, either because they don’t have access to the materials like other group members or because they struggle to communicate with those other group members. These students have a lot to offer in collaborative settings, though, and Windows 10 and Office 365 will help them do so by contributing in their preferred format, one that is easily compatible with the preferred formats of the other group members.

Word with Office 365 will soon let screen readers more effectively announce comments and track changes. This will give the student meaningful and enriching roles to play in a group setting. In the Skype Preview app, in the latest Windows 10, Skype Translator capabilities are built right in. Skype Translator will translate conversations in real time. The possibilities and applications are endless. A student who is deaf or hard of hearing can discuss a project with a peer or teacher, or listen to a lecture without the benefit of a translator, all through a Skype call. Other possibilities include parent meetings where the parent doesn’t speak English. Learn more about and get Skype and Skype Translator for Windows here.

Staying organized

Organization is a struggle for all students, and students with learning disabilities seem to struggle more than most.

Office Lens is an app that trims, enhances and makes pictures of whiteboards and documents readable. This is great for students who lose work, as it means they will always have a backup copy.

A student who has a visual impairment can independently and accurately scan the document using the voice guidance feature coming soon in Office Lens for iOS. They can then turn it into a PDF or text and format in whatever way best suits their needs: large print, audio or even Braille via a transcription program. Voice guidance and an Immersive Reader (like in Learning Tools mentioned above) is also coming to Office Lens soon. Learn more and download Office Lens here.

OneNote has been my go-to for student organization for several years. Students can have their work automatically saved in one place and in their format of choice: type or handwriting, audio or video. Learning Tools and dictation are available directly within the program. Since OneNote is a cloud-based app, students can access it from wherever they are, from any device, making completing and staying on top of tasks much easier.

Math expressions written into OneNote with digital ink.

Using the Office 365—free for teachers and students—and Windows 10 tools has changed my students’ educational experience. When students graduate from high school and enter college or the workplace, they are equipped with productivity and collaboration tools, and skills they will use throughout their lives.

—Robin Lowell

Robin Lowell is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert who has years of experience working as a special education, science and mathematics teacher, as well as teacher of blind and visually impaired students. At the Closing the Gap conference this week, she is partnering with Microsoft Office Product Managers to showcase the technologies she finds most impactful for creating inclusive learning environments. You can follow Robin on Twitter at: @teacherinthebox.

The post Accessibility in the classroom—tools that impact my students appeared first on Office Blogs.

Writing a book with Office—how Maxie McCoy does it

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 09:00

We recently caught up with inspirational writer, speaker and millennial expert Maxie McCoy, who’s a self-professed Office enthusiast (“I live in Office. Always. Period.” )—to get her take on Researcher and Editor, two new cloud-powered services designed to help you do your best writing in Word. Both features are exclusive to Office 365.

“I’ve always loved to write,” Maxie explains. “My parents have ‘books’ of my writing I created as a young kid where I wrote about all the things I wanted to grow up and be (not sure any of those included being a writer!). However, the moment I first saw myself as a ‘writer’ was during a long-form, magazine writing class in college. I noticed how much gratification I got in nailing a perfect transition or putting together two words to describe exactly the feeling I hoped to communicate. It was clear to me then that not only did I have a knack for this style of communication, it brought me immense joy. That has continued to be a guiding tenant in my life: pay attention to what energizes you and follow it.”

Maxie spends a lot of time in Word writing blog posts and articles for a variety of websites. Currently, she’s finessing a book proposal for her agent to pitch to publishers—a book to help millennials learn how to uncover their passions, get ahead in their careers, and essentially, live their best lives.

“When I’m on the road speaking to individuals, their ideas and obstacles motivate me. When I’m home in San Francisco I find so much inspiration from the world around me and the everyday conversations I have with gal pals, coworkers, and mentors. If you take the time to look up and open up, you’ll find the motivation you need.”

It’s no surprise she was curious to see how she could put Researcher and Editor to use for her book project. We developed Researcher to help make it easier to get to a first draft. You can explore reliable sources and add content into your documents—with properly-formatted citations—right within Word. Researcher taps into Bing so you can access the content you need on more than 1 billion people, places and things on the web.

When she saw what Researcher could do, Maxie was in awe. “Wait! Where was this in college???” she laughs. “I was just thinking about all the stuff I write—if it’s not working on the book, it’s writing multiple posts per week for different sites. I always try to credit the research that I’m pulling in. With Researcher, it’s like it’s all right there for me.”

“If you’re writing for the web, you just hyperlink your source because that’s how it works on blog posts and various digital sites. But then when you move back to longer form writing, whether it’s a proposal or a release, or what is going to be a book, I couldn’t tell you how to cite something appropriately. That’s where Researcher can save the day.”

While Researcher helps you get started, Editor helps with those finishing touches by providing advanced proofing and editing capabilities. It combines natural language processing with machine learning to make recommendations on your writing style so you can communicate more effectively. Editor flags complex words or unclear phrases and offers suggestions to make your writing stronger. For example, Editor may recommend you use “most” instead of “the majority of” (in that literary masterpiece you’re almost finished with).

For Maxie, one struggle is figuring out how to keep the right nuances or voice on each website she writes for, while being efficient with her words. “I go from site to site and there’s a different voice for each website. Editor can provide recommendations on being much more concise when I need it. That might be good for a post that I’m doing for Huffington Post versus something I’m doing for my own website.” Editor also suggests synonyms for words used too frequently, to add variety to her different writings.

“Researcher and Editor are so intuitive and smart,” she says. “For people who didn’t memorize all those grammar rules in Journalism school, I can imagine these features being very helpful. They’re allowing you to use your focus and your energy where you’re best optimized, while leaving all that other stuff like a bibliography and having to worry about which word to choose to Researcher and Editor. It keeps your energy in the right place—which is [thinking] creatively—or making a really thoughtful point.”

You don’t have to write for a living like Maxie to use Researcher and Editor. They’re there to help anyone communicate more effectively, more easily. And both features are designed to get better with time. Researcher will soon include sources like well-known encyclopedias and history databases and will be available on mobile devices. Editor will continue to improve its current spelling and grammar tools so you can spend your creative time being just that—creative.

We were wondering what Maxie’s next big project was after her book was published.

“The big sky vision is a global media company,” she said. “I’m so jazzed to be making progress on the book journey but I also love love love video (I have a background in broadcasting). I’m putting my attention towards bringing something fresh to wider audiences. I think when we can know what energizes us (like writing and speaking do for me) we can find peace in knowing what we see for ourselves without knowing exactly how it’ll get done. I’m all about trusting the process!”

Many thanks to Maxie for taking a look at our brand-new features in Word. She’s an up-and-coming powerhouse who shares our goal of helping people do and be their best. In the months ahead, keep an eye out for her as she travels around the world on her speaking and teaching gigs, and watch for her upcoming book, too.

Both Researcher and Editor are available right now for Office 365 subscribers using Word 2016 on Windows desktops. Look for mobile versions to be added soon.

—Maxie McCoy’s time is valuable, so we’ve compensated her for taking the time to share her story.

The post Writing a book with Office—how Maxie McCoy does it appeared first on Office Blogs.

Connect Microsoft Bookings to your Facebook Page and grow your business

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 06:00

Microsoft Bookings, a new service available in Office 365 Business Premium, makes it easy for your customers to schedule appointments with you in your own online Bookings Page. We’re pleased to announce you can now integrate your Bookings Page with your business’s Facebook Page too.

Once Bookings is set up on your Facebook Page, your customers simply click the Book Now button and select the service and time that works for them. Their contact information is automatically filled in for them, and once they click Book, they’re done.

All your bookings are still in one place

After your customer clicks Book Now, the same scheduling process—confirmation, notification, appointments, reminders, etc.—happens as if they were using your Microsoft Bookings web page.

Frequently asked questions

Q. How can I get Microsoft Bookings?

A. Microsoft Bookings is part of Office 365 Business Premium. Visit the Office 365 Business Premium website to learn how to purchase a subscription. Bookings is currently available in the U.S. and Canada and will be rolling out to all Office 365 Business Premium customers worldwide starting November 2016.

Q. Where can I learn more about Microsoft Bookings?

A. Read our announcement blog to learn more.

Q. Do I need to publish my Bookings Page to accept bookings through Facebook?

A. Yes. We use your Bookings Page as an indicator that you’d like your customers to book appointments with you online. It is a prerequisite before you start accepting bookings on Facebook.

Q. Will all my booking policies be respected if I integrate my Bookings Page with my Facebook Page?

A. All your policies (lead time, cancellation time, notification preference and staff selection) will be respected except for maximum number of days in advance that you can be booked. Customers can only book up to two months in advance through Facebook.

Q. How do I disconnect Microsoft Bookings and Facebook?

A. Follow steps one to three shown in this article and then select Remove Service on the Page Action button in the Microsoft Bookings tab.

The post Connect Microsoft Bookings to your Facebook Page and grow your business appeared first on Office Blogs.

Engage virtually using Office 2016 and Windows 10

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 09:00

Lead highly interactive remote meetings using voice, video and screen sharing.

An online immersion session is not your typical online event. Each 90-minute interactive session starts with an online roundtable discussing your business challenges and then launches you into a live environment in the cloud. A skilled facilitator will guide you through simulated business scenarios that are customized to your interests.

We will send you a link to connect your own device to a remote desktop loaded with our latest and greatest technology, so you can experience first-hand how Microsoft tools can solve your biggest challenges in a collaborative, fun environment.

Online immersion sessions help you discover how to:

  • Keep information secure while being productive—Make it easier to work securely and maintain compliance without inhibiting your workflow.
  • Capture, review and share notes from anywhere—Boost your team’s productivity by sharing documents and collaborating in real time.
  • Use social tools to find experts and answers—Break down barriers between departments to share knowledge quickly.
  • Quickly visualize and analyze complex data—Zero in on the data and insights you need without having to involve a BI expert.
  • Co-author and share content quickly—Access and edit documents even while others are editing and reviewing them—all at the same time.

Expect to leave the session with enough time-saving skills to more than offset your time investment within a few short days.

Each session is only open to 20 participants. Reserve your seat now and learn how you can be more productive anywhere, anytime with Office 365.

Sessions are held at 10 a.m. PT and 12 p.m. PT every Wednesday. Register now!

The post Engage virtually using Office 2016 and Windows 10 appeared first on Office Blogs.

OneNote October roundup

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 09:00

This month, the OneNote team focused on updating our Android app to launch new features and bring back some fan favorites. We are also introducing new ways to embed content types and improving usability on shared devices.

New to the OneNote for Android app

Password protected sections—Now you can open sections that have been password protected on other devices, letting you access sensitive information on the go. We’re happy to make this top user request available.

Multi-window support—OneNote works side-by-side with other Android apps that have multi-window support. For example, now you can take notes on a PowerPoint deck you’re reading or while doing research on the web.

Available again in the Android app

Audio recording—OneNote works the way you want, letting you take notes by typing, inking, clipping from the web and now by recording audio. A recording is a natural way to capture notes and ideas on the go, giving you the ability to easily record a lecture or practice your accent as you learn a new language.

Insert embedded files—Easily insert and open any Office file or PDF that you saved into OneNote to review your docs on the go.

Coming soon to OneNote for Android app

Look for the ability to edit and personalize your section tabs directly in the Android app and easily go back and undo changes to your notes to make sure your ideas are written just the way you want them.

Embed content into OneNote

We’ve added the ability to embed new types of content right onto the OneNote canvas. In addition to YouTube and Vimeo, you can now embed Office 365 Videos and With, you can show executable code snippets right in OneNote to teach inline with your notes and lesson plans. To learn more about OneNote and, check out our blog last month.

In addition to the new content types, we have added single sign-on (SSO) authentication for embedded Office files. Once you sign in to view one embedded document, you automatically will be signed in to view the rest.

Use shared Windows devices more effectively in the classroom

Shared cart PC for OneNote is a new OneNote for Windows 10 feature to benefit schools that share devices among students and still want to provide a personalized experience for each of them. Before class begins, teachers can assign any student any shared Windows 10 PC. When students sign in to the shared PC, new OneNote features help them use their personalized OneNote across multiple shared PCs by doing the following:

  • Office 365 sign-in credentials roam with students when they sign in to OneNote for Windows 10.
  • New syncing indicator makes it easier to manage content saving to the cloud, including attachments, so students never lose work when they leave their shared PC.

Thanks for checking out what’s new with OneNote this month. We always want to hear your feedback, so make comments below or follow these links.

Users can update OneNote to use these features.

—Scott Shapiro, product marketing manager for the OneNote team

The post OneNote October roundup appeared first on Office Blogs.

Land O’Lakes: advancing agriculture for a new generation

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 09:00

Today’s Microsoft Office 365 post was written by Tony Taylor, senior director of IT Services at Land O’Lakes.

When you consider that farmers will need to feed an estimated global population of close to 10 billion people by 2050, you begin to understand how big the agriculture business really is. To meet that future demand, we can’t rely on antiquated methods or keep one foot in the past.

At Land O’Lakes, we have embraced technology in every facet of our business. We are a farmer-owned business operating in 50 US states and 50 countries, with US $13 billion in net sales annually among our dairy, agriculture services and feed businesses. Our farmers keep those numbers growing while continuing to feed the world.

Because we operate on such a large scale, we need to build in efficiencies wherever we can. In fact, we developed an app that uses satellite imagery and collects data from combines and tractors to generate planting recommendations for a greater yield. Farmers can carry a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or 4 with them in the field and see exactly where to add fertilizer or increase planting density to achieve the best results. We also have an international development arm of the company that promotes sustainable farming techniques in Africa, Mexico and other parts of the world.

To give our employees greater flexibility and free them from specific work spaces, we had to ensure that they could easily get to their information from anywhere. We recently adopted Microsoft Office 365 to gain the capabilities our highly mobile workforce needs to be effective. Everyone from farmers to salespeople can work untethered and still access the reports, product specs and colleagues that they need. And they’re thrilled that they can use all these new capabilities on every device—even their home computers—with the same user experience no matter what they’re using or where. In fact, within three months of making Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus available, we had over 4,000 employees taking advantage of it on more than 6,000 home and mobile devices.

Today, our employees use Office 365 both within Land O’Lakes and with our external partners. Groups use Microsoft SharePoint Online to share content among teams, with co-op members and with outside marketers. Our salespeople can trust that they always have the latest product sheets because that data is automatically updated and distributed through Microsoft OneDrive for Business. And whether they’re at our headquarters, out on a farm or anywhere in between, colleagues connect with each other through instant message and presence notification using Skype for Business Online, which we also use for a range of meetings, interviews and even presentations to universities.

Now that we’ve seen the power of Office 365, we’re eager to dive in even deeper, which is why we’ve purchased the new premium enterprise functionality. Now, our international team can simply say, “Skype me,” when they hold Skype Meetings for real-time video meetings or share presentations. And we use Power BI to give our end users the ability to drive real-time analytics on their own, without IT involvement. We’re also looking at MyAnalytics to see who is consuming which data (and who isn’t), so that we can see how to shape our organization, train our workforce and optimize our employees’ potential.

At Land O’Lakes, we believe that our investment in technology equates to an investment in our employees’ success. By empowering our workforce with Office 365 and the most up-to-date technologies, we’ll attract and retain top talent who will be critical in helping us push the envelope and make the next big breakthroughs in feeding the world.

—Tony Taylor

Read the case study to better understand how Land O’Lakes empowers their workforce.

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How the Office 365 U.S. Government Cloud meets the regulatory and compliance needs of the Department of Defense

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 06:00

Today’s post was written by Ron Markezich, corporate vice president for Office 365.

In talking with customers every day, I see digital transformation taking place at organizations around the world—and it’s moving fast. As a cloud-based productivity suite that’s built to address the security and compliance needs of even the most highly regulated organizations, Office 365 is helping our customers transform the way they work. I am especially proud of the work we’ve done to bring Office 365 to U.S. Government customers because meeting their needs is a testament to the security and compliance capabilities of the Office 365 service.

We are continually investing to deliver a complete, compliant and secure Office 365 U.S. Government Cloud. Today, we announced the Office 365 U.S. Government Defense compliance service, which makes Security Requirements Guidelines (SRG) L5 and L4 controls available to U.S. Government defense departments and defense industry organizations holding Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The service will help the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) continue its digital transformation and take advantage of cloud computing to deliver flexible, cost-efficient and secure productivity solutions. My colleague, Bob Davis, will provide more details about this service next week at the at the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum in Washington D.C., which I would highly recommend attending to learn more about how to accelerate the digital transformation of government organizations.

Microsoft delivers superior protection for its government-only infrastructure through four hardened U.S. datacenters operated by screened personnel. Access to the Office 365 U.S. Government Cloud service is controlled by a formal eligibility process, and data in the service is protected through multi-layered physical and software-based systems.

By adopting Office 365, DoD employees benefit from the familiar capabilities of Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business. Because Office 365 is a cloud-based solution, employees can work securely across devices, save and share information in the cloud and always benefit from the latest technology and innovation.

At Microsoft, we believe that not all clouds are created equal. Microsoft wants to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. To do that, we are working to ensure that Office 365 meets the security and compliance needs of every customer, while also providing a comprehensive productivity solution. The U.S. Government Defense compliance service is one more example of how we optimize our services to meet our customer requirements.

—Ron Markezich

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Office 365 news roundup

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 11:10

What do workers in small, medium-size and enterprise organizations have in common? They all want productivity tools that can help them work smarter and collaborate more effectively, from almost any location and on almost any device. That’s exactly what Office 365 is designed to deliver.

During the past few weeks, we have introduced several new features to enhance the capabilities of Office 365. Last month at Ignite 2016, we updated attendees on Office 365 Groups, our complete group collaboration solution. And just this week we made another announcement tied to the integration of Yammer and Office 365 Groups. Now, you can create and co-author Office documents from within a Yammer group, and browse your SharePoint and OneDrive libraries to share files and start discussions with their teams on Yammer.

We recently announced a limited preview of the new Office 365 adoption content pack, which combines the intelligence of usage reports from the new Office 365 admin center with the interactive reporting capabilities of Power BI to help you get the most out of Office 365. The Office 365 adoption content pack enables you to visualize and analyze Office 365 usage data, create custom reports, share the insights within your organization and pivot by attributes such as location and department. We also announced the rollout of new auditing and reporting capabilities for Yammer, to give organizations more visibility and control over their data within the cloud services they use. These new capabilities are powered by the Office 365 Management Activity API and the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center.

We also provide resources to help you use Office 365 more effectively. Two of our most recent additions are the Office 365 Live Demo webinar series and the Office 365 Enterprise test lab guides. The webinar series is designed to help organizations use Office 365 to boost the productivity of their remote teams. The test lab guides help organizations configure Office 365 features specifically tailored for the needs of enterprises, and create a working dev/test environment they can use for further experimentation.

Below is a roundup of some key news items from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Microsoft Office 365 for business: What you need to know—Discover how Office 365 offers businesses of every size exceptional value and performance.

City of Kansas City empowers employees, provides better services with Office 365—Learn how Office 365 benefits both city employees and citizens in Kansas City.

The Hershey Company: where collaboration and productivity are a recipe for goodness—Find out how Office 365 is providing the legendary candy company with a sweet solution for digital transformation.

Businesses can now use Power BI to gauge Microsoft Office usage—Discover how your organization can determine whether employees are using the full potential of Office 365 and assess its return on investment.

Microsoft adds intelligent cloud collaboration features to Office 365—Learn how you and your organization can benefit from the intelligent cloud collaboration features in Office 365.

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Got your Daily Skimm?

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 11:00

theSkimm makes it easier for busy professionals—living in a world of information overload—to be in-the-know on current events, key world news and trends. Microsoft Office is now partnering with theSkimm, to bring users easy access to their unique content, through integrations with Office Connectors and Skype Bots.

Read more about theSkimm partnership at

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New Learning Tools help educators create more inclusive classrooms

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 09:30

A one-size-fits-all approach to education can be especially stifling for students with unique learning needs. To put these unique learning needs in perspective: dyslexia is estimated to impact one in five people; 72 percent of classrooms have special education students; and 73 percent of classrooms have readers that span four or more grade levels.* Understanding this classroom reality is what led our engineering teams at Microsoft to design Office 365, and its inclusive classroom technology like Learning Tools, with accessible learning experiences in mind.

With accessibility in mind, and based on direct feedback from educators and students, the Microsoft engineering teams continue to expand the capabilities and availability of the tools that help students of all abilities succeed. Many features previously exclusive to OneNote desktop are now coming to OneNote Online, Word Online and for desktop, Office Lens and beyond, to make sure more students have access to these tools.

The accessibility features in many of the tools in Office 365—free for students and teachers—that educators use regularly with their students create even more inclusive experiences, enabling all learners to have that “ah-ha” moment that motivates ongoing success.

To learn more, check out the Microsoft in Education blog.

* Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation survey of 20,000 public school teachers.

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Yammer bolsters security and compliance with new auditing and reporting capabilities

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 09:00

Yammer is designed to connect people and teams across your organization so they can work more effectively together, while also meeting your organization’s security and compliance needs. Having visibility and control over your data within the cloud services you use—whether user actions, object activities or access points—is a critical part of IT compliance and security. We’re pleased to announce we are rolling out new auditing and reporting capabilities for Yammer, powered by the Office 365 Management Activity API and the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center.

These new capabilities provide a new level of visibility for IT and builds on our announcement earlier this year that Yammer is now covered by the Office 365 Trust Center. As part of the Office 365 Trust Center, Yammer complies with international and regional standards such as the Office 365 Data Processing Agreement with European Union Model Clauses (DPA with EUMC), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Office 365 Business Associate Agreement (HIPAA BAA), ISO 27001, ISO 27018, Section 508 for web accessibility, and SSAE 16 SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports. We also recently announced an update to the Yammer apps for iOS and Android that allows IT administrators to protect their corporate data using mobile application management (MAM) controls in Microsoft Intune.

Auditing and reporting across various user and admin activities

The Office 365 Management Activity API is a RESTful API that already provides visibility into user and admin transactions across SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Azure Active Directory. The Office 365 Security & Compliance Center aggregates these transactions into a single searchable log. Today, we’re pleased to announce our plans to include Yammer user and admin transactions in both the Office 365 Management Activity API and the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center.

More than 25 different Yammer operations spanning five categories will be made available for auditing:

  • Users—including activating a user, suspending a user and deleting a user.
  • Groups—including creating a group, adding a member to a group and deleting a group.
  • Files—including creating a file, viewing a file and deleting a file.
  • Admins—including exporting data, triggering private content mode and forcing all users to log out.
  • Network settings—including changing network usage policy and changing data retention policy.

This support article has the complete list of operations available.

Using the Office 365 Management Activity API to audit Yammer data

To get to the Yammer reports, open the Security & Compliance Center from the Office 365 Admin Center, then click the Search & investigation tab and select Audit log search. Currently, audit history is retained for 90 days, and admins can export results to a CSV file for additional reporting in Excel.

Yammer operations and details can be viewed through the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center.

Find more information on using the audit log reports here, from getting started to understanding all that is audited.

Applications can also consume audit data using the Office 365 Management API. The API provides a consistent schema across all activity logs and allows organizations and ISVs to integrate Office 365 audit data into their security and compliance monitoring and reporting solutions.

To learn more about the API all up and the Yammer specifics, visit the following:

Control on your terms with cross application security and compliance

Organizations want a collaboration platform that gives them the right level of control, compliance, privacy and security. Because Yammer is part of Office 365, IT departments can easily manage user access and controls and ensure that corporate data is private, secure and compliant. These new capabilities will roll out to Office 365 commercial customers over the coming weeks. More information about auditing and reporting in Yammer can be found in the support article.

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Customer data—walking the line between helpful innovation and invasion of privacy

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 09:00

Everyone is worried about privacy these days. More information about you exists in more places today than ever before in history.

Collecting and using customer data is not a bad thing. Organizations need that data to deliver products and services customers want. The issue is where to draw the line between using customer data to deliver helpful new capabilities and invading customer privacy. The October 11 episode of Modern Workplace provided guidance on how organizations can manage these tricky policy decisions.

Hillery Nye, chief privacy officer at Glympse, explained how the startup company made a very conscious decision to not collect data that it could have easily gathered from its real-time location sharing app. The company collects customer data and uses it for very specific purposes, but it never stores that data. The company may have given up some opportunities to monetize its customer data, but Nye feels that the company gains even more by being a responsible corporate citizen and establishing a reputation for privacy. She discussed how a company’s brand is affected by its privacy policies, and how organizations can better align their privacy policies with their business strategy.

Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum—a think tank and advocacy group focused on data privacy issues—explained that companies need to understand what customer data they have, where it is located, what rules apply to it and who has access to it. Then they need to develop privacy standards that align with their business goals and customer expectations. Polonetsky helped draw a distinction between security and privacy. “Security is about making sure the people who aren’t authorized to have data don’t get it. Privacy is about the people who are authorized to have the information…and what you do with it once you are allowed to have it.”

What can you do to stay secure and ensure privacy? Microsoft has developed the Secure Productive Enterprise, an offering that brings together the latest, most advanced technologies for security as well as management, collaboration and analytics. On this episode, we demonstrated some of the key security capabilities across the three products of the Secure Productive Enterprise: Office 365, Enterprise Mobility & Security and Windows 10.

Watch now to learn tips on managing privacy, such as:

  • Place someone in charge of privacy.
  • Align your privacy policies with your business strategy.
  • Implement clear rules to maintain privacy standards.
  • Know your partners and how they use data.
  • Understand that there’s too much risk to ignore international privacy regulations, even if you are not a huge organization.

And tune in on November 15, 2016, at 8 a.m. PST to watch “Solving the Generational Divide: How to create cohesive teams.”

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The future of workplace productivity

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 09:00

Office 365 Groups update at Ignite 2016

Wed, 10/12/2016 - 06:00

It was an exciting time for Office 365 Groups at Ignite 2016 in Atlanta last month. We had some great sessions, which are now available online to all of you that could not attend. These sessions cover top of mind questions you asked us to discuss, ranging from our collaboration product strategy, use cases, administration and governance, extensibility and key innovations on our product roadmap.

Office 365 Groups is a group membership service that provides a single identity for teams in Office 365 and equips them with a set of group collaboration assets such as a calendar, a OneNote notebook, a Plan to manage tasks and conversations powered by Outlook or Yammer.

Our key Ignite session, Discover Office 365 Groups—overview, administration and roadmap, presented a comprehensive overview and update on Office 365 Groups. We first discussed how group collaboration in the enterprise has evolved to be multi-faceted and how Office 365 addresses the unique needs and workstyle of different groups.

We presented three common use cases, (a project group, an organization group and an interest group) observed from the millions of users using Groups in different Office 365 applications every month to get work done. We highlighted recent innovations such as the ability to add external team members, a modern SharePoint team site for every group and the new Outlook Groups iPad app to name a few. We then discussed and demoed key administration updates to help you manage and govern groups; features presented included data classification and usage guidelines, dynamic membership, audit log and usage reports and the ability to upgrade a distribution group (DL) with one click via the Exchange admin center.

Attendees asked if we support hybrid scenario with on-premises mailbox and multiple domains and the answer is YES to both. Read “Configure Office 365 Groups with on-premises Exchange hybrid” and “Multi-domain support for Office 365 Groups” to get started.

Last but not least, we showed how Yammer is integrating with Office 365 Groups and recapped key investments across experiences and administration going forward. One popular item we announced is our upcoming work on group preservation and deletion policies. Please see our FastTrack Roadmap for a full list of innovations.

In addition to the above overview session, watch the following session—targeted at administrators—for an in-depth look at key governance investments available today and in the future:

In addition to the above two sessions mentioned, a dozen others related to Office 365 Groups are listed below:

Overview and use cases Administration and governance Partner teams: SharePoint, Planner and Yammer

Thank you all that came to Ignite 2016, attended our sessions and dropped by our booth. We have already announced that Ignite 2017 is going to be in Orlando; in fact, you can already pre-register. See you next year, and until then, please continue to engage with us via our technical community.

—Christophe Fiessinger, @cfiessinger, senior program manager for the Office 365 Groups team

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The Office Small Business Academy October webcast—“How to Keep Your Business Safe from Cyber Attacks”

Tue, 10/11/2016 - 10:00

For any entrepreneur, cybersecurity is a necessary part of doing business these days. But with an increase in phishing attacks, data breaches and ransomware, how secure is your business?

Join us for the next episode of Office Small Business Academy, “How to Keep Your Business Safe from Cyber Attacks,” airing October 25, 2016, at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET. In this episode, learn the cybersecurity must-haves for your small business.

Watch this preview:

  • Senior fellow at the NYU Center for Cybersecurity and founder of Germano Law LLC, Judith Germano, establishes the criteria to determine your business’s risk and vulnerabilities and discusses how to minimize the reputational damage from a cyber-attack.
  • Founder and CEO of Kalki Consulting, Vikas Bhatia, provides an easy-to-implement cybersecurity plan and shares the one mistake small business owners need to avoid when it comes to security.

Plus, see a demonstration of Office 365 security features and how they can enhance small business security, limit risk and help defend against cyber-attacks.

Sign up for free!

For more information, visit the Office Small Business Academy home page.

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The state of the modern meeting

Tue, 10/11/2016 - 09:00

Love them or hate them, meetings are here to stay. As a communication tool, meetings provide team insights, real-time bonding and constructive conversation. But sometimes, meetings can become unproductive. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor estimates that businesses lose $37 billion in unnecessary meetings every year. Because 37 percent of employee time is spent in meetings nowadays, it’s worth considering how we meet in order to inform our growing management styles and business strategies.

The modern meeting satisfaction factor

When considering your business strategy, you should recognize both the hard and soft costs of meetings, whether digital or physical. Balancing the benefits of each will result in an integrated approach to new technology and traditional business practices.

As technology has advanced, so has the pace of the modern workplace. In an organization where every minute counts, using services like audio- or video-conferencing reduces your employees’ need for time management. With audio-conferencing, employees and stakeholders alike can simply join the conversation, offer input and resume their workday, without ever leaving their office. With video-conferencing, you no longer need to gather your remote employees; screens enable you to converse personally with multiple employees across time zones. In addition to unifying your teams, these resources may also replace business travel, which eliminates unnecessary expenses.

Of course, face-to-face-meetings still offer a human element, something unavailable through virtual interfaces. When interacting with a new client, meeting in person can build rapport and establish a foundation for an enduring professional relationship. And despite negative press about meetings, 92 percent of meeting attendees value meetings as providing an opportunity to contribute, suggesting that successful meetings may be a contributing factor to employee job-satisfaction. And greater employee satisfaction means reduced turnover.

According to Verizon’s survey, over 90 percent of meeting-goers admitted to daydreaming, missing entire meetings, or parts of meetings, while 70 percent said they have brought other work to meetings. It’s obvious the meeting as we know it needs a change. Imagine the new productivity we could unearth if we redefined the concept of the meeting as a whole.

Changing definitions of the modern meeting

Situated within new technology, employment trends and economic shifts, meetings today are ever-evolving. A recent study by BlueJeans found that 25 percent of meetings have at least one mobile video participant on the call. This increase in mobile video could be attributed to the rise of part-time or freelance workers. In the past few years, these contract workers comprised an estimated 40.4 percent of the modern workforce.

The key takeaway? That for businesses and their employees to enjoy future success, meetings today must be integrated with both digital and physical technology.

But what would this look like? Where is the ideal meeting place, whether physical or digital? The answer is not always the same for every business, but some innovations have been crafted for increasing productivity across organizations.

  • Advancements in physical technology will provide A.V. service based on device type, whether calls are wired or wireless, inside or outside corporate networks. Ideally, these improvements will provide a high-quality meeting experience for remote attendees and in-house employees alike.
  • Some organizations have adopted new methods, such as digital whiteboarding, to ensure that these advancements deliver. Innovative team collaboration solutions like multi-touch displays, responsive pen and inking experiences, and built-in video conferencing will enhance the state of the modern meeting.

As it stands today, 28 percent of managers believe meetings to be a waste of time. But, when used effectively, meetings provide more than just a framework for honing your business strategy; they create opportunities for connection, innovation and synergy between your team. No matter the role in your organization—whether employee, executive or freelance—all can benefit from a holistic approach to a high-quality meeting experience.

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