Remote Working For You and Your Business

Home working, remote working, teleworking, WFH – whatever you call it, working remotely is on the rise.

There are a number of reasons for this, our roads are getting more and more clogged with cars, pushing up the average daily commute time significantly. Public transport is either not an option, due to the infrequency of the service or its spiraling cost make it an uneconomic option. Even organisations are affecting the need for more teleworking as they close there regional centres meaning local office’s are simply not there.

Employees are also demanding more flexible working and many organisation are losing talented people because they are not providing adequate options around this.

Of cause giving people the ability to work away from the office has to benefit not only the employee but also the employer. Luckily recent research has shown that providing this flexibility does give businesses tangible benefits.

CanadaLife found that home workers productivity increased by 10%, while a PowWowNow survey found that more than 60% of workers were significantly more motivated. Additional research from FlexJob showed that employee retention increased by 82% for those based away from the office. While Cardiff University found that employees were happier to work additional hours if they could do this work from home.

However a YouGov report found that while most companies were open and actually wanted to implement a more flexible work place, nearly 20% said there IT systems simply did not allow this.

Our own experience backs this, even companies who have systems such as Office365 just haven’t embraced the benefits and flexibility such as system can give an organisations.

So how can Office365 help bring in a more flexible remote working policy?

  1. Communication – it’s the key to any teleworking strategy, people need to be able to get hold each other no matter where they are. Having the ability to access your Outlook email on any devices is taken for granted now. However showing people your on-line, in meetings, out to lunch using Skype for Business presence features is a great way to show your whereabouts and its ability to turn quick instant message messages to voice or video chats between one or multiple people really does make it a must have for any remote worker
  2. Access to Your Data – You need to be able to be easily access your files and data wherever you are. SharePoint and its tight integration with not only the standard Office applications such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint, but with Power applications like PowerBI, PowerApp and Flow means you can not only save files online but also build in depth analysis of your data and create workflows and mobile applications. OneDrive integration means that you can even access your files when your local internet connection goes down.
  3. Collaboration – Of cause being out of the office shouldn’t mean you lose the ability to collaborate with colleagues. Skype can be used to host conference calls, project sites can be created in SharePoint or with MS Planner and features such as co-authoring means multiple people can even work on a single document at the same time. Teams can create a virtual platform to host meetings, notes and chats in an easy to access location. While Yammer groups can help keep people involved in online conversations and be part of a community in a similar way to Facebook does.

Our hectic lifestyle means that people need more flexibility, while organisations need to become more agile and dynamic. Fully implementing systems based around the Office365 platform can help business of all size achieve this.

If you are looking to bring in a more flexible and collaborative way of working then contact us to help you on your journey.

Give Your Customers an Online Booking System

Microsoft Bookings

Did you know that your Office365 subscription gives you the ability to provide your customers with a online booking or appointment scheduling system?

It wouldn’t surprise us if you didn’t. Its one of those small unknown features that Microsoft seams to add but really doesn’t advertise very well.

Microsoft Bookings, as it is called, has actually been available since 2017, but its only recently that a number of enhancements has made it a system that people should really look at seriously.

Microsoft Bookings

The service will allows you to publish your booking calendar online, allowing your customer to see when slots are available and then book the time and service they need. They will get a confirmation email and calendar invitation, and if required they can even reschedule or cancel.

The bookings then go into your calendar were you can assign it to a member of staff if required.

One of the great features of the product is its ability to hook into Facebook, so your customers can make appointments straight from the social media platform.

Microsoft Bookings Facebook

Another neat component is that all your customer details are saved, meaning that over time you will buildup an excellent record of all your clients contact details. Its a bit like a mini CRM system and with will mean you can start to use this information to drive further customer interactions.

Recent improvements have mean’t that you can even integrate it with online payment systems.

For a large organisation it can even be used purely for internal bookings.

We’ve recently implement Microsoft Booking for a number of our small business customers who had been quoted thousands to develop a custom solution that did a very similar job.

If your a small business and looking to provide an online appointment system to your customers then give the team at PureNetworking a call and we’ll get you up and running within the day.

Will SharePoint Make you a HERO?

SharePoint isn’t known for it visually stimulating designs lets be honest. However that is changing as Microsoft recently announced a whole host of upgrades to the platform that are aimed at dragging the look and feel of the software into the 21st century.

Described by Microsoft as “modern” experience (the old look is are now called classic!) SharePoint sites are being revamped with a new more web and mobile friendly look, that makes them look much more user friendly and appealing to there audience.

One of the new enhancements is the addition of a “Hero” web part – yes it really is called “Hero”!

This web part simply adds a layout to a SharePoint site where you can easily add visual images, text and links in a very attractive way. For the WordPress users out there you may be thing this isn’t a big deal but for those that have struggled over the years to get “classic” SharePoint to look anything more than a basic web page from the 1990s, this simple web part is huge.

The layout comes with a number of built in options that can easily be changed to allow you to get the look you require.

Hovering over the image makes the tile changes its focal point slightly to make the overall feel of the page much more dynamic.

Implementing these and other improvements to SharePoint Online will have a dramatic impact on the look and feel of your Intranet and will certainly improve user adoption of the platform. You never know it might even make you a Hero!

The team at PureNetworking have created hundreds of SharePoint sites for our customers. Contact Us to discuss how we can improve your experience of the platform.

What Does Microsoft Removal Of OneDrive Unlimited Storage Mean To An Office365 User?

About a week ago Microsoft back tracked on its previously announced and heavily promoted statement that OneDrive users would get unlimited storage for free. As you can imagine that has caused outrage among users of the service especially as the new free tier is just 5GB – yes thats 5GB!!

Here at Purenetworking, we always questions how Microsoft would continue to just give away free storage, especially as no other supplier followed with a offer similar to this. However the way Microsoft has removed this is truly disgraceful. There reason for doing this is that a number of users were abusing the service and using it to backup multiple machines, which isn’t strictly what the service was designed for. This may be true but in our opinion the correct way to remove the unlimited option would have been to give all current OneDrive users 1TB free and then for new user they get say 100Gb or 50Gb. There is currently a campaign to try and get Microsoft to back track on their decision but we don’t expect this to happen.

So many of our customer are coming to us and asking us how this will affect there Office 365 OneDrive for Business allocation. Well at the moment it doesn’t really. Every Office365 gets 1TB of storage and at the moment this hasn’t changed. In fact we don’t expect it to change, because in our opinion Microsoft’s reason for removing the unlimited Onedrive storage option is to drive users to Office365.

The simple fact is that an Office365 subscription is great value, you obviously get the 1Tb of storage but also access to Word/Excel/Outlook etc… just a few pounds a month.

We may not be happy with the removal of the unlimited storage option but Office 365 is still the best storage deal out there.

So if you need assistance setting up Office365 or moving your OneDrive data over please let us know and we’ll be happy to help.

Five Essential Tools for the Home Worker

Essential Tools to Work From Home

More and more people are working are working from home and with the ubiquity of tablets, laptops WIFI and smartphones it easier than ever to get out of the drudgery of the daily commute. But before you make the transition to full time home working we’d recommend you get a few essentials to ensure the transition is a pain free as possible.

So without further ado here are our top five essential tools for the job…

1) Mobile Hotspot
You’ll have WIFI at home, but to be being stuck at home on your own won’t necessarily provide you with the simulation your need to get those great ideas flowing. We often find that people who just swap office life for a home office miss the social interaction. However working say an hour or so in the garden, nearby park or coffee shop will help stimulate you and make you become more productive. To do this you’ll need some kind of connectivity so make sure you get either a hotspot/dongle from your mobile provider or easier still just turn your smartphone into a hotspot and work from anywhere!

2) Laptop
Now your mobile you’re going to need a flexible device that is small enough to go anywhere with you but powerfully enough to get your work done. It’s an obvious choice but our recommendation for the mobile worker would be Microsoft Surface Pro device. We really don’t know anyone that isn’t impressed with the devices. Is it a laptop or is it a tablet? Or does it really matter? It’s just great!

3) Cloud Storage
Making sure you have access to you files wherever you go is essential and with an Office365 subscription you get 1Tb of storage. In the competitive cloud storage area there is simply no better deal in the market.

4) VOIP Number
You’ll have your mobile number, but we would recommend getting a VOIP number so you can still give the impression you have a landline number. With Skype for Business rolling out PBX in the cloud feature the obvious choice would be to simply bolt on the functionality to your Office356 subscription.

5) Conferencing Facilities
Once of the mail tools you’ll need is the ability to run conference calls and share your information over video conferences. Again why look for a separate tool when conferencing, screen sharing, presence and instant messaging are all built into the Office 365 Skype for Business package!

Let us know if we are missing any essential teleworking tools or contact us if you need any help setting up your home working office.

Get More Out of Your Office365 Subscription

Have you migrated to 365 yet? A lot of companies have, Microsoft are now saying they have they have a least 18 million Office 365 subscribers.

However how many are using Office365 for more than just email? In our experience not many.

Microsoft are selling Office365 as a way to improve communication, collaboration and bring business efficiencies. But most companies haven’t embraced this and are still plodding along using email for communication and spreadsheets to track different areas of their business.

Every week we will be contacted by new customers asking us if we can help streamline there business processes. They want to remove their reliance on spreadsheets, move outdated forms online and get some reporting put in place around this.

They expect they will need to purchase some new software solution to achieve this, but quite simply Sharepoint can help simplify processes within business. It has been doing this for nearly 15 years for larger enterprises, who had teams of developers help create workflow and automation using the product.

Office 365 brings the power of this to business of all size and Purenenworking’s highly skilled team can help translate your forms and streamline business process within days.

Check out our Sharepoint Development page to see how we can help your business become more efficient.

Are you Paying To Much for Office365?

According to the stats over 80% of companies that are using Office365 are paying too much for their licenses.

Companies are paying for either the wrong license or buying license that they don’t need.

Microsoft have made the reporting on license use very easy in there new partner portal but we have noticed that partners are not making their customers aware of the over spend.

When we on-board a new customer, one of the first things the Purenetworking consultants do is ensure that there are no overspending on their licenses or support. Some companies have saved thousands on their yearly bill from the reports we create.

As part of our “Give Back to the Community” programme we have now extended our Office365 assessment to all Office365 customers for FREE, even if they don’t want to purchase any other services from us.

So what have you got to lose, try Purenetworking FREE Office365 Assessment and see if you can save some money!

Office 365 Usage Skyrockets

The press have been reporting over the past few weeks that the use of Microsoft Office 365 is “sky rocking” and that its adoption rate is increasing on that of Google Apps and Box. Its popularity is increasing at such as rate that it is predicted that it will soon surpasses number one enterprise cloud app Salesforce in the very near future.

okta-apps-usage-office-365

Source Business Insider 

This information only confirms what we have been seeing on the ground. The past few months have been our busiest in term of new customers requesting help with Office365 and OneDrive migrations or implementations of SharePoint online.

If you need help or have questions about moving to the cloud why not contact us now for a free cloud assessment

Are Microsoft Now Cool?

Ninja Cats, Fire Breathing Unicorns, what is happening at Microsoft?

When I first started in IT, a company called Wang were the old dominate force and were being replaced by a similarly enterprise driven company called IBM. The young upstart with its fancy new icon driven interface was a software company called Microsoft. Nowadays Microsoft has of course taken over the mantle of the old slow moving enterprise driven company and certainly not something any young start-up company would be looking towards for inspiration – Apple or Google clearly hold the sashay.

But recently I think Microsoft may be getting cool again. With the XBOX, Minecraft and the recently announced HoloLens in their portfolio, Microsoft have some of the must have products in there category. There is a buzz about Windows 10 and there Azure and Office365 platforms are seeing spectacular growth. The purchase of popular Apps companies such as Accompli and Sunrise mean start-up companies can now see that if they make great software then they can look to Microsoft for that multi-million pound buy out.

Microsoft merchandise is even selling must have items such as the ninja cats and fire-breathing unicorn sticker and Windows 10 t-shirt…

Ninja Cat and fire breathing Unicorn

Ninja Cat and fire breathing Unicorn

Windows 10 Tshirt

Windows 10 Tshirt

 

Could Microsoft do what very few organisation achieve and be hugely successful but also be innovative and cutting edge? We shall see…

Is Your Office365 Partner Supporting You? Lawyer Solicitors Experience

We were recently contacted by Lawyer and Solicitors Redman’s, a large law firm based in London regarding there Office365 setup. They had been migrated to Office 365 by one of the so called large Microsoft Partners. However once Redmans email were up and running through Office 365 they were having a lot of difficulty getting any support.

Redmans notice that we provided FREE Office 365 advice and after spending a lot of money with there initial partner didn’t want to waste any more money without understanding what we could do and also how they could use Office365 to help support there business.

After our FREE Assessment we were shocked at the state Office365 was left in. DNS entries were missing, licenses were being used on accounts that should have been setup as “shared mailboxes”. Redmans hadn’t been told what they could use SharePoint for and they didn’t even know they had access to Lync. A old email domain hadn’t even been migrated to Office365 because the partner had told the client that two domains were supported.

The worst thing about the Redmans story is that this isn’t the first time we have discovered such a bad Office365. Many so called Partners are just interested in the initial migration and then either don’t want to provide any additional help or don’t have knowledge or skills to implement the other Office365 services. Our experience shows this is generally because many partners are come from “Email” support backgrounds so while they are comfortable with the initial email migration, they simply don’t understand what SharePoint really does or have any idea how to setup the system for maximum benefit.

This is one are Purenetworking are different, we not only have Email experts but also SharePoint developers, Access database gurus and Lync Telephony skills. We are one of the few Microsoft partners that focus purely on Office 365 and this means that if you work with us, you know you are good hands.

If you feel you need advice on how you can get the most our of your Office 365 setup then let us know.