Have been working remotely at all over the last two years? The odds are quite high, as many businesses around the world have had no choice but to go remote, ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. TechQuarters, an IT support company from London, described the process of going remote in early 2020 as being “completely out of the blue”. This was the same for many businesses, but TechQuarters was very lucky to have had a very quick turnaround when it comes to going remote. Within a day, they sent everyone home to work remotely – and they were able to do this because they use Microsoft’s Modern Workplace solutions.
Microsoft & Remote Working
For several years now, Microsoft has been gearing its services toward enabling new and alternative approaches to work – such as remote and hybrid working. They started migrating their existing flagship products and services – for instance, Microsoft Office – to the Cloud, and began building their new products & services natively in the Cloud.
Microsoft has what they call the Modern Workplace, which is an approach to working that uses their products and services to enable more efficient, flexible, and productive ways of working. They have accelerated this even more since the onset of COVID-19, as the demand for hybrid solutions for business has grown exponentially.
So, which of Microsoft’s products and services make up the Modern Workplace?
Of course, Microsoft 365 is at the core of the Modern Workplace. For those that don’t know, Microsoft 365 is the flagship license that provides businesses with all the products and services they need to operate on a daily basis. This includes their operating system, Windows, and Office 365 – the productivity suite containing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote; Outlook and Exchange for emails, OneDrive and SharePoint for Cloud storage and file management, and Microsoft Teams for unified communication and collaboration.
But Office 365 and Windows are not all that you get with Microsoft 365. You also get Enterprise Mobility + Security. This is Microsoft’s business security suite. It enables a business to protect their data and information; implement advanced threat protection, and it also provides a business with excellent visibility and control over their cybersecurity strategy – thanks to solutions such as unified endpoint management, and identity and access management.
Although Teams technically comes under the banner of Microsoft 365, it is arguably at the core of modern working with Microsoft 365 and deserves a full rundown of its capabilities. As the name suggests, you can create Teams – which are essentially digital workspaces – in the app, that gives teams a space to communicate and store assets. It integrates with Office 365 in such a way that you can access all the Office apps within Teams, and essentially perform all your work in it.
With remote and hybrid working, clear communication across an organization is absolutely critical. Microsoft Teams enables this as unified communications and collaboration platform. What this means is it consolidates all common channels of communication for a business. For instance, internal communications include video conferences and meetings, and instant messaging. In terms of external communications, Teams is also a telephony client. Telephony in Teams can be enabled either by direct routing a business’ existing PSTN system into Teams or by enabling Voice over Internet Protocol in the Cloud. You can call external phone numbers (using an assigned virtual phone number) from any device that has the Microsoft Teams app installed. Interestingly, the IT services London company TechQuarters provides utilizes Microsoft Teams communication a lot; internally, it is the primary method of communication between teams, and the IT support helpdesk that their customers use to contact them is built with Teams’ telephony solution.
Though it has only been out for the last 6 months or so, Windows 11 is an upgrade well worth having thanks to it being geared toward business and hybrid work.
Microsoft worked very hard to develop the multitasking and productivity features of Windows in this latest version. For instance, functions that users were utilizing in Windows 10 – such as Windows Snap, Focus Assist, and Task View – have been updated and grown in their capabilities. The speed and performance of Windows 11 is also said to be an improvement on Windows 10 – with apps, files, and webpages all booting up more quickly.
Some people reading this may not be familiar with this particular Microsoft product – it is a relatively new one – but it is hugely promising and will likely drastically transform the way many businesses operate.
Windows 365 is essentially a new desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution that is geared toward businesses with less experience or expertise in Cloud-based as-a-service technology. Microsoft actually already had a virtual desktop solution available for many years – Azure Virtual Desktop. But this solution required each virtual machine to be built from scratch in Azure. With Windows 365, all of the architecture comes pre-built with the service – businesses just need to subscribe to the service, purchase licenses for virtual machines (or Cloud PCs, as they are known in Windows 365), and they will be able to deploy them immediately.
The implications of this service are that businesses will be able to greatly streamline the onboarding process of new and remote employees. New hires will be able to use personal devices to safely and securely access company resources from their own home. What is more, Windows 11 and Windows 365 are becoming even more integrated. At the time of writing, Windows 365 is only accessible via a web app; but soon, users will be able to access Cloud PCs directly from Windows 11.