What Office 365 features can help boost my productivity?

A quick guide to how moving your email and documents to the cloud can lead to big productivity gains

Think about business software and chances are the first name that comes to mind will be Microsoft Office.

Programs like Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint are synonymous with business productivity, and many businesses big or small would be lost without them.

But the rise of cloud computing and always-on networking between all types of devices has changed the world of business computing, and today’s Office 365 is very different to the Office of just five years ago.

The good news is that most of the changes are for the better, and give you the freedom and flexibility to tailor Office to your productivity needs, rather than the other way around.

What is Office 365?

The main difference between Office 365 and past versions of the software is that you no longer buy the package up front and install it on standalone PCs. Instead, you pay a monthly subscription for a licence that can be shared between up to five different devices.

And rather than your files being saved locally on a server or an individual PC, they’re stored in the cloud, and so can be accessed at any time, from anywhere.

Similarly, basing your email infrastructure in the cloud ensures reliable access to email, calendars and contacts across your business at all times, complete with protection against spam and malware.

Aside from the cost implications of not having to buy the software outright, the move away from a physical product means you can better fine-tune your Office 365 subscription to suit your business’ specific needs, so you don’t end up paying for features you’re never going to use.

1. Easy ways to back up and store files

Regardless of which package you go for, Microsoft gives you 1 terabyte of free storage on its OneDrive cloud service. This means you can access your files from anywhere, and with hosted cloud-based email you can sync your devices and stay in touch with colleagues from the other side of the globe as easily as if you were in the next room.

SkyDrive Pro is a free public cloud app, which enables you to store and share documents. It automatically syncs to the cloud, which can come in handy if you forget to backup your work.

2. Use it on your tablet or phone

You’re not restricted to using Office only on a PC or Mac, either: on top of your five desktop licences, you can use a mobile version of Office 365 on up to five phones and five tablets too, letting you view and edit documents on the go.

3. Collaborate with colleagues

Using the Outlook Web App (OWA) you can permit colleagues or your staff to access yours or each other’s Outlook calendar and emails. This can be great if one of your team has a day off booked and a client is waiting on you to deliver or you need to check where one of your team is.

4. Carry on working offline

If you lose your WiFi connection while working in a coffee shop, there’s no need to fret as you’ll still be able to access your files if you’re running at least Explorer 10, Safari 5 or Chrome 24 on your device. And when you next have connectivity, the files will automatically sync, ensuring you have the most up-to-date version in your folders. You can find out more here.

5. Automatic updates and features

Another major benefit of moving your business to the cloud is that you no longer have to worry about buying and maintaining a server, or upgrading to a more powerful set-up as your business grows.

This means you’re better able to predict your business’ ongoing running costs without the fear of having to repair or replace expensive hardware at short notice. And because you’re subscribing to a service rather than buying a product, you automatically get new features and the latest updates as soon as Microsoft releases them.

6. Access useful apps

Whether it’s Yammer, the private social network for employees to collaborate, Bing’s mapping app, or accessing your LinkedIn page, there is a wide range of business productivity apps available to download.

Today’s connected world has opened up opportunities for small businesses that have never existed before, and Office 365 gives you everything you need to take full advantage. Unlike in the past, productivity no longer depends on location, size or even budget. It’s just about making the most of the tools that are right in front of you.

This article was produced in partnership with O2 Business. To be inspired or read more about working anywhere, working smarter, marketing, and for tech advice go to businessblog.o2.co.uk

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