At its Ignite 2022 event this week, Microsoft unveiled a slew of features for its employee experience platform, allowing employees to gain a greater sense of control over their time. The emphasis on employee experience as a bedrock component of employee productivity has been a persistent finding in Microsoft Research's studies on the modern workplace
. CEO Satya Nadella also emphasized it in his keynote on Wednesday, October 12.
To that end, the following features hit general availability in the data-driven Viva Insights module:
Scheduled message times: Instead of people coming in to a barrage of chat messages on Teams, Viva Insights now automatically displays schedule send suggestions when a user composes a 1:1 chat outside of the recipient’s working hours. This is meant to cut down on interruptions to the recipients' non-working time.
A new Focus mode:
This user feature divides individuals' pre-scheduled focus time into short bursts of productivity followed by short breaks. Users can set timers for specific intervals of time -- handy for those who practice the Pomodoro time-management technique
-- and they can opt in to a curated set of mindfulness exercises from Headspace to reset between focus intervals.
Quiet Time settings: Microsoft is offering the option to silence mobile notifications from Outlook and Teams outside of working hours. Depending on the organizational culture, these hours can be set on an organizational level by an IT admin, or individual users may have latitude to mute after-hours notifications and limit use of work apps outside of working hours.
"We need to embrace data over dogma," Nadella said during the keynote when talking about how time management can reduce burnout and boost employee engagement.
Microsoft also boosted its Viva Learning module by showcasing the following features, all of which are in private preview:
Learning paths: Admins and knowledge managers can create sequenced groups of training exercises and other learning resources, then push them live to the intended audience. The idea is to make job-specific training easily available to Viva users.
Learning collections: Individual Viva Learn users can now save and curate learning content. Seth Patton, GM, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Viva said in a breakout Ignite session that Microsoft research showed a lack of growth and training was one of the leading causes of employee disengagement, so offering more ways to find and save learning opportunities is intended to boost engagement.
Permissions: Admins and knowledge managers can configure permission access so users only see content that's appropriate to their career path or job level.
Improved notification: Users are now apprised of any assigned learning directly from the Viva Connections dashboard and in the daily Viva email.
Microsoft also announced new third-party integrations in Viva Goals. Available now: a new Slack integration that lets users receive notifications and conduct OKR check-ins directly from Slack, while a new Google Sheets data integration lets users sync key OKR check-ins to Google Sheets. A Jira on-premises integration is coming soon; it will automatically track Jira updates in the progress for OKRs in Viva Goals.
Everything announced will be part of the existing Viva Suite subscription at no added cost.