Organizations are facing challenges to maintain company culture and connection amid hybrid work and economic uncertainties. Research shows that when companies invest in their people and focus on improving employee experiences, they can directly improve retention and profitability. Employee experiences include everything from simple tasks like accessing information about benefits and payroll on a mobile device to more complex tasks like completing a training course or booking a shuttle.
Viva Connections is Microsoft’s gateway to the employee experience and is designed to be a one-stop-shop for all things connected to your company – access to paystubs, benefits, information, holiday schedules, café menus, breaking organizational news, training opportunities, expense approvals, inventory management, easy access to popular destinations, and more. Launched just over a year ago as an app in Microsoft Teams, our initial release offered a new design on mobile and used existing intranet home sites on the desktop to make it easy for customers to get started.
Looking ahead, we are evolving Connections to further align the desktop experience with that on mobile and we are making it even easier for customers to get started by reducing setup and configuration requirements.
Viva Connections is also evolving to become the front door for the Viva suite. The home experience includes navigational elements to help users easily get to-and-from other Viva apps and provides the ability for configuration and editing of several elements, including app icon, label, background image, dashboard content, resources and more. Learn how to edit the new experience.
A new ‘home’ experience for Viva Connections
We are pleased to announce that the new release of Connections is rolling out currently to Targeted Release customers and will continue to roll out to all customers through the end of March 2023. On desktop, Connections introduces a rich, new experience that aligns with what is currently available on mobile by prominently surfacing dashboard, feed, and resource components. This new experience will be the default layout for the Connections experience on desktop.
The updated Viva Connections experience on desktop is comprised of three main components:
• Dashboard: The dashboard is your employee’s digital toolset. It brings together the tools your employees need, enabling quick and easy access whether they are in the office or in the field by using cards that represent different tasks and functions. Cards on the dashboard can be filtered to the most relevant audience and are designed to drive action and engagement for the people using them. For example, cards that help users clock into a shift, approve an expense report, or submit a ticket to the IT helpdesk. There is a library of existing cards that require little setup, a growing list of third-party cards, and the ability to use the SharePoint Framework (SPFx) to build custom cards.
• Feed: The feed delivers updates to the right people at the right time. It’s tightly integrated with Yammer, SharePoint news, and Stream to display a personalized feed, based on news post-level targeting of the groups that employees belong to. Content in the feed is unique to the individual viewer based on the sites and communities they follow and adapts to readers preferences over time.
• Resources: The resources experience enables way finding across platforms to popular destinations. Navigational links in resources can be targeted to specific audience to ensure content is relevant and discoverable. Content in the Frequent sites and Followed sites columns are dynamically generated to display links unique to the individual viewer.
Also with this update, a SharePoint home site is no longer a requirement for deploying Connections. Customers with home sites already can rest assured that they will automatically be incorporated into the new home experience. Home sites will be displayed as an icon and a link in the top-right corner of the desktop app.
Setup and launch Viva Connections in under 5 minutes
Video: Learn about the authoring experience in Teams
Customize and edit the Viva Connections home experience
See what you can do in the Viva Connections desktop experience
Q: Is it possible for me to choose the home site as the default primary experience for Viva Connections on desktop?
A: We know some customers have invested in their home site to provide a gateway to the employee experience. You will have the option to set your home site as the default experience on desktop for Viva Connections using PowerShell. User will still be able to navigate easily between home site and the new Connections home experience through displayed navigation links.
Q: Do I need a home site to get started with Viva Connections?
A: No, a home site will not be required for the new Viva Connections desktop release. If you don’t already have a home site, you can add one at any time. Home sites offer an organizational focused landing destination that’s optimized for the web, and provides rich, intranet properties that are highly flexible, configurable, and can also deliver employee experience capabilities like organizational news and links to popular destinations.
Q: If I don’t have a home site now, can I add one after I set up Viva Connections?
A: Yes, a home site can be added at any time, but it is recommended that, when possible, a home site be created before setting up Viva Connections. If you add a home site after you’ve set up Viva Connections, you may need to copy some Viva Connections content to the home site in some cases.
Q: Can I customize the new Viva Connections home experience?
A: Yes, there will be opportunities to customize parts of the new experience. For this release, customers will have the option to edit the banner image and will still be able to customize the app name and icon.
Q: How do I get custom cards for the Dashboard?
A: Many ISVs and system integrators are already building cards for the dashboard. These can be acquired from the app store or directly from a vendor. You can also use the SharePoint Framework (SPFx) to build custom cards for the dashboard to surface relevant and personalized information for the viewer from existing Microsoft 365 apps or from your line of business applications.
Q: Is it possible to have more than one Viva Connections experience in my tenant?
A: This new capability is not yet available to customers, but is on our product roadmap, with expected availability in the first half of 2023. It will enable organizations to create multiple distinct Viva Connections experiences and corresponding home sites within the same tenant. Common scenarios include conglomerates or subsidiaries that require distinct Viva Connections experiences for different users, each with its own dashboard, feed, and resources.
Q: What are the main differences for Viva Connections experiences that have a home site and those that don’t have a home site?
A: Organizations that only use Viva Connections will not:
• See a link and icon in the top-right corner of the Viva Connections experience that directs users to the home site.
• Be able to use the dashboard web part, which is only available to use on home sites. However, the home experience for Connections will automatically include the dashboard.