Setting up your SharePoint intranet with Microsoft Viva

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David Bowman, Product Director for Fresh, shares how you can create a unique digital employee experience by leveraging your SharePoint intranet alongside Microsoft Teams and the Viva Suite.

Microsoft Teams was launched to help workplace communications in 2017, quickly racking up users. It now stands at more than 270 million monthly active users – and that’s partly down to the pandemic changing the way everyone works.  

When Covid-19 and the associated restrictions hit, many organisations turned to hybrid or completely remote working, meaning you could no longer turn to colleagues working alongside you for help. Microsoft Teams, a tool for communication and collaboration, gave employees a sense of connection, replacing some of the moments that people were missing by not being in the office.  

Microsoft Viva was created to address the gaps in the employee experience that Teams alone can’t fill – those calls and chats aren’t replacing everything your people were getting from the office environment. Integrated in Microsoft Teams, the app has modules designed to connect your people, encourage growth, give purpose and provide insights.

What do you need to do to make full use of the Microsoft Viva suite?

In the world of internal communications, there are a couple of stand-out Microsoft Viva modules everyone should be making the most of: Connections, Engage, and newcomer Amplify. 

Viva Connections is primarily aimed at unlocking a mobile experience within Teams. It provides your people with access to your SharePoint intranet and content through the Microsoft Teams mobile app – no need to get started using any new technology or applications. Meanwhile, on the desktop app, you can access your SharePoint intranet straight from Teams.  

Viva Engage is Microsoft’s take on enterprise social media. We’ve seen organisations use this app to build real communities, promote a sense of belonging and bring people into communities of practice, both formal and informal. New functionality automatically connects your people to their team leaders through the hierarchy structure of the organisation – there’s no need to seek them out to follow them.  

Viva Amplify is a new application supporting you with integrated, wide-scale internal communications campaigns. You can create, structure, build, manage and measure campaigns with timed release across SharePoint, Teams, Yammer and Outlook. 

There’s a whole lot more to Microsoft Viva, but just with these three modules, internal communications and HR teams have a wide-ranging toolkit to start tackling some of those employee experience challenges of the hybrid workplace straight from Microsoft Teams. 

Where your SharePoint intranet comes in

Even if you decide to deploy the entire Viva Suite across your organisation over the course of the next week, you won’t get an intranet that works alongside it just handed to you as part of that.  

If you have very basic intranet requirements, you could configure a simple SharePoint site with a couple of pages pretty easily – but we find that a lot of the time, an out-of-the-box intranet site like this just won’t work for most of the organisations we work with. This could become a real challenge. 

In the early stages, requirements can be as simple as adding a handful of documents, recent news and reference content. However, this runs the risk of oversimplifying things – your project is more likely to grow beyond your initial request.  

We often find that as a SharePoint intranet project is unfolding, more and more requirements come in, even as you get familiar with the technology, realising its potential. This is how things become more complicated – your original requirements evolve.  

Even though it might be difficult if you’re just getting started, it’s far more productive to start by stating your challenges and the goals you want to achieve with your intranet. 

What sort of digital employee experience is right for you?

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of models that organisations have been using when thinking about the digital employee experience. This might be a helpful place to start when considering what you need from an intranet – and what it can really do for you. 

Pre-pandemic, employees were left to access technology with whatever means they needed. At the time, this ‘everything everywhere’ model worked. If you weren’t sure how a certain system worked, you could simply turn to your colleagues for guidance. It’s no longer that straightforward – you can’t quickly ask these questions when you and your colleagues are working remotely.  

Another model for the new hybrid way of working sees your intranet connecting your people to the workplace. It does the bulk of the work helping your people navigate your organisation, as well as the technology and platforms that are in place. This is a great alternative.  

However, these aren’t your only options. Microsoft has introduced a new way of delivering a digital workplace through a Teams-centric model. Microsoft Teams is already the hub of hybrid working as people collaborate through chats, meetings and calls. You can really leverage this with everything from Viva Connections bringing your intranet to Teams, to time-saving applications built in the Power Platform.  

With this model, you can maintain the agility that comes with having everything based on the Microsoft platform. It offers a seamless experience not only for your people but the admin teams maintaining these platforms. Not to mention that it sets you up for success with the ever-expanding Viva Suite.  

Fresh, an Advania company, is no stranger to setting up a complex, enterprise-level digital workplace. We’ve created solutions tailored to meet the demands of not only these challenges, but everything from the mobile experience to employee insights and analytics. Our team can offer support and guidance in making the most of your SharePoint intranet and that valuable Microsoft Viva toolkit. 

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