Microsoft’s latest launch – Viva – is a big bet on the future of remote work as this new way of life and working becomes the new norm. It’s not an app, or even a service, but more like a complete platform for improving remote work and helping companies adjust to it. Not surprisingly, Viva’s tools integrate closely with Microsoft 365 and Teams.
Microsoft launched Viva today, with parts of the platform rolling out throughout 2021. “We need to stop thinking about work as a place, and start thinking about how to maintain culture, connect employees, and harness human ingenuity in a hybrid world,” says Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365. Spataro was quick to predict early on in the pandemic that it would forever change the way we work and learn, and Microsoft Viva is clearly the result of trends Microsoft has been witnessing.
Microsoft thinks Viva will help in this new digital era of work. “We have participated in the largest, at scale, remote work experiment the world has seen,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, underlining nearly 11 months of a pandemic that has reshaped how people work, learn, and live. “As the world recovers, there is no going back. Flexibility in when, where, and how we work will be key.” Essentially, Vivia is a modern, more streamlined take on the company intranet.
Viva Connections includes internal communications, or resources like benefits and company policies from a Teams app. It’s also designed to be the portal you’d head to if you just started working at a company and you’ve never even met your co-workers due to pandemic lockdowns. “You can think of it as a gateway to your digital workplace,” explains Spataro.
While only currently available to public and private previews, Viva Insights will give users a window into how employees and companies as a whole are doing, including wellbeing. It’ll also help employees carve out time for breaks and “focused work” (read: no meetings), which could be particularly helpful for finding work/life balance as a remote worker. Insights will tap into data from Microsoft apps as well as third-party platforms like Slack and Zoom.
Knowledge will also play a key role. Viva Learning pools together education resources from services like LinkedIn Learning and Coursera as well as a company’s own courses. Viva Topics adds to this with a “knowledge discovery” system that surfaces relevant info for conversations and documents while you’re using Microsoft 365 and Teams.
It’ll take a while before all Viva’s pieces fit into place. As of now, only Topics is widely available as a commercial plan add-on. Like Insights, the Learning feature is also currently limited to public and private previews respectively. Connections won’t be available in a public preview until sometime in the first half of 2021, and will have a mobile app later in the year.
Microsoft’s motivation for launching Viva is a promising alternative to Google Workspace and even goes a bit further. Currently, companies and workers around the globe are relying on a patchwork of apps and services to keep everyone connected and informed. While there’s still hot debate around how dramatically office culture will change once the pandemic is over, Microsoft is very much betting that the way we’re working right now is the new normal.