In the past year, the turn to remote work has rapidly accelerated the production of new technology to improve productivity and facilitate communication between off-site employees. Additionally, new fitness tools, apps, and wearable devices continue to reshape the virtual health and wellness industry. While the pandemic sped up the demand for these digital products, there are no signs that their use will slow down after COVID-19.
Most recently, Microsoft launched Microsoft Viva, which is integrated with Microsoft Teams and other 365 applications. The ambitious new platform is a suite of digital tools aimed to improve employee experience. According to the tech giant’s research on workforce trends, nearly 60% of employees feel less connected to their coworkers since moving to remote work, and over 30% feel more burned out since the pandemic began. Viva aims to alleviate some of these struggles and minimize the challenges employees face working remotely. Prior to this, Microsoft also launched its virtual commute, developed to help employees separate work and personal life, thereby reducing stress and improving focus and job satisfaction.
In addition to tackling work challenges, Microsoft also aims to ensure privacy and security. According to the company, “personal insights are visible only to the employee, while insights for managers and leaders are aggregated and de-identified by default to protect individual privacy.” As employers jump to leverage more new technology, they should be mindful about how employees might feel about having personal data or identifying information used and protected. Privacy concerns will likely remain important to employees in the future.
Seamless integration with other applications and digital tools—whether they be from Microsoft or not—also makes Viva stand out, and Microsoft is not the only company that acknowledges the usefulness in this characteristic. The ability to work with other tools and applications (instead of merely building a competing product) makes it easier on employers that may have already built work processes off of custom company-owned technology or other digital products.
Viva features four different tools—Viva Connections, Viva Insight, Viva Learning, and Viva Topics—but Microsoft has plans to add more in the future.
- Viva Connections – As the name implies, this tool aims to help teams feel more connected. Accessed in Microsoft Teams, it is a gateway to the employer’s digital workspace and features a personalized feed and dashboard. This dashboard can be customized to provide a snapshot of the digital apps and resources an employee is most likely to need and use, depending on their specific role. Employees can access internal communications such as company news, policies, and benefits information while also joining communities and resource groups.
- Viva Insights – Insights aims to make the best use of employee’s time by discerning trends and providing recommendations to managers. By analyzing data, while still maintaining privacy protections, this tool gives managers advice on how to make teams more successful. It also analyzes work trends and organizational patterns to help company leaders better adapt to workplace changes and seize opportunities for improving employee performance, productivity, and well-being. Viva Insights can also be integrated with LinkedIn’s Glint and leverage even more data from a number of third-party apps.
- Viva Learning – Recent research from LinkedIn suggests 94% of workers would stay with an employer longer if they invested in learning and development. Not only does continued career growth help talent retention, it benefits the company when employees feel motivated and gain new relevant skills. In order to make learning a daily part of company culture, employers can use Viva Learning to assign and track training and courses. It also makes recommendations, and aggregates content from the employer’s own resources, LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and several other leading online education providers.
- Viva Topics – Rounding out the first four Viva tools is Topics, which provides a way for employees to learn about any important content that is unfamiliar to them quickly and easily. By using AI, it organizes company-wide information and expertise into relevant categories, making an easy-to-use knowledge base for employees. Instead of wasting time searching online to understand a subject or figure out an acronym, employees can also hover over an unfamiliar word they come across while working in Microsoft’s apps and a “Topic Card” will surface with more information.