With COVID-19 continuing to impact people and countries around the world, teams everywhere are moving to remote work. Microsoft 365 provides an easy way to navigate these hard moments. Earlier this week, Jared Spataro posted a letter from Lily Zheng describing how Microsoft Teams can power remote working, and by making Teams available to as many people as possible, we aim to support public health and safety by keeping teams connected while they work apart.
In addition to ensuring work can continue, organizations are wrestling with how to keep people safe and informed about late-breaking news, changes to policy and guidance, and answers to common questions. Our team is receiving inquiries daily from customers looking for guidance about using Yammer and Microsoft 365 to support remote work, particularly during these challenging times.
In this article, we’ll share lessons learned from organizations that, over a decade, have used Yammer to connect and engage people across the organization. We’ll showcase how you can empower open conversation, drive awareness and engagement, exemplify corporate values, and, in challenging times, foster empathy and support. Later, we’ll provide guidance for how to most effectively use Microsoft 365 technologies to reach your people in the apps where they work, across devices and platforms.
Targeted communications like email tend to be one-way “broadcasts”, without expectation or affordance for two-way engagement. Communications distributed to silos like distribution lists or teams have the potential to engage people within, but not across those silos.
Communities, however, connect people across organizational and geographic silos. Communities connect people, no matter what team, department, or business unit they’re in. That’s what makes communities unique—they’re about the people, first.
During difficult times, it’s critical to give people a common, open place to gather and to share experience. In a community, every member benefits from a sense of support and belonging, and the organization learns what people need. No other enterprise communication channel works as effectively as a community to provide a forum for questions to be asked, knowledge to be amplified and experience to be lived.
In a time of need, communities enable leaders to engage with employees, communicators to reach their audience, experts to share information, and people to connect with each to share experience, to brainstorm ideas, to lend a hand, and to lend an ear. In a community that brings people together to address a crisis or challenge, leaders, communicators, and members can
Communities are powered by Yammer in Microsoft 365. In Yammer communities, open conversations reach across the organization and across teams, and Yammer is uniquely capable to support communities of any scale—from the smallest to the largest. And Yammer is included as part of all commercial subscriptions to Microsoft 365. It’s ready for you to use.
Microsoft 365 uniquely connects people to their communities regardless of which apps people choose to work in. Of course, there is a hero experience for communities in Yammer on web and in the newly redesigned mobile application. But newly-released integrations now extend communities to reach users in SharePoint, in Outlook and, of course, in Teams.
There are seven steps to create and connect people to a community in Microsoft 365.
Use these steps to get up and running:
For more resources on creating your community, review our Community Admin Best Practices Guide.
Invite people to the community using existing communications channels.
Yammer communities are open by default, so people are not required to join the community in order to participate. However, joining the community facilitates discovery of conversations. So specifically suggest that people join the community, unless you’re using the All Company community which includes all users by default.
Also encourage people to ensure that they will receive notifications for the community. This can be configured in your Account Settings. Click the gear in the upper-left corner of Yammer, then click Edit Settings, then click Notifications.
Share documents and announcements in the community conversations.
Most importantly, encourage others to share. People can share ideas, questions, photos and videos. Yammer communities are inclusive—everyone has a voice. Sharing fosters engagement, empathy, and insight into the pulse of the community and its needs.
The Yammer app on web and mobile is a rich, stand-alone experience for the community. The mobile experience has been significantly updated over recent months, featuring a beautiful new design that will be coming soon to Yammer on the web. The mobile app enables push notifications for announcements—be sure that you have enabled notifications for the Yammer app in your iOS or Android settings.
If you have created a SharePoint site to curate information, resources and community conversation, people can visit the site on web, on mobile browsers, or in the SharePoint app for iOS and Android. You can create SharePoint news posts to share stories and announcements, and SharePoint news will generate a mobile notification through the SharePoint app.
Yammer notifications will reach people in their inboxes.
Earlier this month, we shipped a new feature for users of Outlook on the web: notifications now render an interactive view of the conversation in the inbox, so you can like, share, and reply to Yammer conversations without leaving Outlook. If your users are already enjoying the incredible experience of Outlook on the web, this new integration will greatly facilitate driving communication and engagement. We look forward to bringing the feature to Outlook on desktop and mobile later this year.
Microsoft Teams is a powerful hub for teamwork, whether you’re working at the office, on the road, or from home. It enables your team to work seamlessly together, integrating chat, calling, meetings, business process, task management and file collaboration.
Communities, on the other hand, connect with people across teams, and across the organization, to share knowledge and experience. In the past, Yammer and Teams were separate experiences, adding friction by requiring people to bounce back and forth between applications.
We’re on a journey to bring the power of communities to Microsoft Teams, just as we are doing with Outlook and SharePoint.
Today, you can add an important Yammer community to your team. Click “+” to add a tab, pick Yammer, and configure the community you want to display. For example, you can add a crisis response tab to your team, allowing you to follow and engage with conversations in the community without leaving your hub for teamwork.
Very soon, we’ll be releasing the new Yammer app for Teams, which will bring the new Yammer experience, in full fidelity, into Teams. This will give Teams customers a more powerful hub for teamwork that integrates their investments in Yammer. Stay tuned for more as we near the release of the Yammer app for Teams.
It is worth sharing perspectives from customers who have engaged and aligned their employees during difficult times. Learn from Yammer partner Talk Social To Me how Johnson & Johnson responded to Hurricane Irma to help evacuate employees and keep everyone safe and informed. Also, learn from MVP Larry Glickman how one organization used Yammer in response to an emergency situation and how it led to community building and empathy.
The Microsoft Tech Community is — like Yammer — a place to share experience and knowledge with like-minded peers from across the globe. Let us know how you are using Yammer and Microsoft 365 to connect people across your organization.
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