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Microsoft Says ‘Viva’ the Employee Experience

Just as workplaces have changed how they operate and collaborate, technology providers similarly have adjusted their strategies, releasing new capabilities and products designed for the future of work. Along these lines, Microsoft today shared its vision of the future of work and its role in it, along with the capabilities it is delivering to boost the employee experience and flexible working.
During a video announcement, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, unveiled Viva, an employee experience platform (EXP) that runs in Microsoft Teams and combines Microsoft 365 and Teams productivity and collaboration capabilities. To start, Viva will feature four modules, or apps, designed to address different aspects of the work experience, including collaboration, learning, and wellbeing.
The four modules are:
  • Viva Connections — allows employees to access internal communications and company resources (policies and benefits) and participate in communities like employee resource groups, Microsoft shared in a press release. The Viva Connections module for Teams will be available for the desktop in public preview in the first half of 2021, with a mobile app following later in the year, Microsoft said.
  • Viva Insights — provides workplace leaders with ways to ensure employees are taking breaks and focusing on work, as a whole. To create Viva Insights, Microsoft aggregates data from team interactions. Managers can track productivity and wellbeing trends from the Viva Insights dashboard, Microsoft said. Additionally, Viva Insights works with LinkedIn’s Glint and can incorporate data from apps such as Zoom, Slack, Workday, and SAP SuccessFactors. The Viva Insights app for Teams and the Glint and Viva Insights dashboard are available in public preview.
  • Viva Learning — aggregates organizational learning resources like LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, edX, and an organization's content library. Users can then discover, share, assign, and track learning courses and content via the Viva Learning app. The Viva Learning app is available in private preview with integrations with Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, and SAP SuccessFactors coming later in the year, Microsoft said.
  • Viva Topics — allows employees to search and find knowledge on a specific work-related topic. Viva Topics uses a combination of Microsoft 365 data and third-party services like ServiceNow and Salesforce to create topic cards, which are viewable in Microsoft 365 and Teams. Clicking on a topic card will open a page that'll share related documents, conversations, videos, and subject matter experts on the topic, Microsoft said. Viva Topics is now generally available as an add-on to Microsoft 365 plans.
Microsoft designed these capabilities to promote flexible working into the future and provide tools to create a sense of workplace community, Nadella said. Nadella noted how the idea of workplace wellness and wellbeing has changed because of the pandemic. “Productivity can no longer just be about short-term employee output,” Nadella said, making the point that companies need to factor in employee wellness and work to rebuild social capital following 2020.
Not only has the pandemic changed how and where we work, but it has also democratized some responsibilities, even across department lines, Nadella said. “People operations will no longer be limited to HR but will be integrated across every aspect of the business in order to improve the overall health and resilience of the organization,” he said.
If this is the case, where people operations are a team effort, and workplace wellness comes way of communications and collaboration platforms, the need for workplace collaboration across HR, IT, and facility departments will be even more important than ever.