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The Isolation Conversation – Using the Power Platform to Beat Isolation

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The Isolation Conversation – Using the Power Platform to Beat Isolation:

We are thrilled to introduce our sixth episode, ‘The Isolation Conversation – Using the Power Platform to Beat Isolation’. Featuring Mark Stokes – Chief Technical Officer at Attollo Intranet, Keith Whatling – Principal Technologist at QUANTIQ, Kent Weare – Principal Program Manager Lead at Microsoft and Sara Lagerquist – Power Platform Architect at CRM-Konsulterna

If you want to watch this episode click here & enjoy!

What lessons have you leant over the last week:

With the COVID-19 outbreak, our working worlds have changed even for those that are used to remote working. We asked our panel what lessons they have learnt this week whilst working in lockdown.

  • You can use the shift functionality in teams to utilise booking seats in the office to avoid overcrowding in the office.
  • Azure bot framework skill and plug it into Power virtual agents. As part of that process, I learnt how simple it is to do that same thing in Power Automate so I’m going to go there first every time in future.
  • I explored augmented reality for the first time.

What’s changed in your organisation or team since lockdown?

  • It’s become the norm for people to have their videos turned on more.
  • I’ve noticed that I gesticulate a lot but people can’t see all of my hand gestures as they are outside of the frame.
  • We have turned on and enabled GIFS in Microsoft Teams to allow for the team to have some humorous communication to keep them going.
  • I don’t travel as much now and I miss the travel to work and random acts of kindness throughout the day.

What’s currently happening in your businesses and your customers?

  • I’ve never worked from home before. In Sweden, we never work from home and are always based in the office. When I went back into the office, social distancing, it gave me a huge boost of energy.
  • We have seen some customers who have projects on hold and others that have wanted to move forward rapidly. We are still busy as a business though but just facing the new challenges that each week presents.
  • Power Platform has gone a bit crazy with tones of projects going on. Customers are using downtime to work on things that have previously been considered riskier. Building apps for the ‘return of the ‘new’ normal’.
  • We have created ‘How are you feeling’ Teams card (Flow) to keep an eye on peoples moods throughout a week.

Mental Health during Isolation

  • Very human spin on the world as we knew it and companies are doing the right thing by their employees and their customers.
  • This human approach will evolve to track data on what is happening with their employees.
  • The number of searches on LinkedIn for technology has massively increased. People are upskilling on technology.
  • We have coffee together over teams meetings to help open up conversations about mental health.
  • Companies are now being accommodating to people needs more so than they have been before
  • We have a happy hour to stay connected to people at the end of the working week. It’s a chance for people to just switch off completely.

How are you keeping efficient when remote working?  

  • There is lots of talk about decreasing the meetings with each other. Water cooler talk doesn’t exist now, so that has prompted the rise in adding meetings in for small conversations. It can be disruptive to your working day to have 30-minute slots blocked out for something that could take 5. So, we are trying to decrease the number of the meetings now.
  • We usually talk to people all in the morning and have an online chat open in the morning.
  • Gone from having loads of isolation events and lots of people attending to not ready people not really attending.
  • So many home interruptions that can stop your thought process. So, I’ve learnt to block out the beginning and end of my day for meetings.
  • I’ve found that I am more productive when the children go to bed so many of my hours are done then.  
  • I joined a new company during all of this which is unique. The team is dispersed but I still have access to training and my colleagues online.  

Being a parent during lockdown:

  • Many families whereby both parents are still working are feeling the strain of having to work and still look after their children full time. Most families have adopted the split shift. This enables parents to find the balance between work and home during these strange times.
  • We’ve learnt how important social interaction is for adults and for children and how technology can facilitate that need.  

Power Platform

  • We have used the Power Platform for COVID investment to provide tools, guidance and templates
  • During these difficult times, we will look back and say, what have you done to make a difference? We have created apps for the NHS in the form of an online waiting room and streamlined spreadsheets into an app.
  • We think it’s important to be part of a community and get influence on this type of work.

Are there any differences in building apps currently?

  • Yes, it is different. I almost always insist on spending time with the end-users before creating something. So, it’s been challenging doing this remotely. However, making apps for the users has been easier as they have less fears bout creating it and think that they just need to crack on to have it implemented. I hope we have a new sense of vigour as a society as we have made big leaps in a short space of time.

Has this situation exposed areas for improvement?

  • Share a screen and co-collaborate
  • Saying that meetings don’t last an hour and that it’s okay to book a 5-minute meeting in.
  • Loneliness

Reacting to customers quicker using the Power Platform

  • Improving customer service.
  • Companies getting loads more service requests. We can help them quickly to come up with something new, like a chat area.
  • Many companies and indeed individuals now have the attitude of the quicker we get the implemented, the more we can get out of it.
  • Companies have had 2 years of transformation in just 2 months. COVID-19 has just accelerated all of the plans to show a more rapid adoption of technology.
  • Democratic access to build a solution. If you’re passionate about solving a problem, the tools will be there.
  • We have seen a Facebook approach to apps – roll stuff out and then build and improve on it.

What is the new normal?

We ask how long do we have to be in this situation for things to make a permanent change to our daily working lives.

  •  We have come to realise that people are surprisingly good at technology – agreeability because it’s been designed to good? We often see that the people who have needed tech implemented are the people that don’t use it every day.
  • Everyone company has just ramped up and moved on with projects that need to be completed.
  • We are impressed that we can move heaven and earth in 2 months and expect that when things go back to normal we will be asked why the same project is estimated to be 1-2 years in the making. It seems like we all pull together in a time of crisis, a burning fire does get people around it very fast.
  • We all have a common goal and a common enemy that have unified people – we now have 1 problem to solve at 1 time. Previously, where businesses have failed to try to tackle all of the tech issues at the same time rather than 1 at a time. They don’t know what thing to focus on at one given time.
  • When we come out of lockdown, will people think they have made a mess of the applications they have created or maybe don’t have the correct data protection? Yes, however, like anything that is done with the right intentions, is the right thing to do. With time we can critique our work. I hope that we can keep this entrepreneurial spirit once this is over.

Are you Inspired to use the Power Platform? Here is how to get started:

  • Virtual app in a day, the Microsoft training sites are very good. If you want to get your hands dirty and do it on your own. That is the best place to start.
  • Flow in a day, dashboard in a day. Lots of ‘in a day’ workshops. Download for anyone who wants them.
  • Reach out to the community – we will be able to help you.
  • Community and Power Platform are second to none. Attend user groups that are now going virtual so get involved and reach out. Also, search YouTube, watch the great content that is out there and people who are willing to share their learning with others. Then pay it back with sharing something that you have learnt.
  • There is now a revitalised energy in the community whereby people are willing to help for no personal gain.

What’s Next?

We are thrilled to introduce our seventh episode, ‘The Isolation Conversation – Settling into Isolation’ which will launch next week. Featuring Mark Stokes – Chief Technical Officer at Attollo Intranet, Jon Levesque – Senior PM on the Power Automate Team at Microsoft, Christina Wheeler – Principles Solution Architect at Canviz, and Alex Pearce – Owner at BFC Networks.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us via email or call us on +44 (0)1952 288 365.

The Isolation Conversation – Using the Power Platform to Beat Isolation:

By Sam Dolan

Sam Dolan is a consultant for Attollo specialising in Intranets, SharePont & Microsoft 365.

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