Creating a Balanced Approach to Productivity

Across the wide spectrum of roles within the modern workplace, one of our shared primary goals is (or should be) productivity. It’s what we’re all striving for, right? What is net-new to this discussion, however, is the need for a more “balanced” approach to productivity.

Companies are finally beginning to move beyond the rote, meaningless language around “collaboration” platforms and solutions and investigate methods, tools, and capabilities that will deliver measurable, meaningful productivity improvements. Another word that rings hollow in the minds of many CIOs is “social,” and yet many of the platforms and solutions they are investigating fall into this category.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Many companies, whether they are considering further investment in their Microsoft environments (Teams, SharePoint) or making plans to move to Office 365 from competing solutions (Box, Google Workplace, etc.), are reviewing their social collaboration strategies – with the goal of helping their end users improve productivity.

Not surprisingly, many CIOs are concerned with the impacts social tools will have on security, support, and maintenance costs, as well as end-user productivity. These are all valid concerns, but making the connection between social tools and personal productivity might help sell them on the idea. Microsoft’s innovation around Microsoft Teams, AI tools and chatbots, the ever-expanding Graph API, and even Yammer highlight that there are an increasing number of options available for organizations looking to make social a central part of their productivity planning.

Enterprises need new ways to:

  • generate and take action on innovative ideas;
  • connect those ideas across the organization and beyond geographical divides;
  • deliver some form of semantic search capability that can understand what the users are looking for, and then promulgate ideas and artifacts based on context; and to
  • collaborate in more powerful and meaningful ways across the enterprise.

At their core, all enterprise collaboration systems, web content management systems, and social networks serve the same fundamental purpose: the sharing of information between teams, and providing new ways for them to connect. In the evolution of enterprise collaboration, social features are becoming the expected method for internal communication and team collaboration.

Productivity, however, is a two-sided coin: On one side is end-user workload efficiency, but on the other side is administration efficacy.

I would venture that most admins do not fully understand the underlying reasons why their teams and end-users are successful or unsuccessful in their collaboration efforts, much less which buttons to push or toggles to flip to achieve improved productivity. When Microsoft announced their new Viva offerings, with Viva Insights focused on the goal of “improving productivity and wellbeing with data-driven, privacy-protected insights and recommendations,” I was excited to see Microsoft’s efforts to “productize” this effort, helping to translate end-user requirements (er, I mean outcomes) into achievable and measurable actions that, ultimately, align with business objectives.

End users want the technology to fit the way they work (which is why so many gravitate toward the latest consumer-driven social tools), instead of requiring them to work a different way to fit the technology (what many enterprise applications usually require). The goal should be to deliver what they want in a way that makes sense to the business and can be tracked and measured by your key performance indicators. That’s where Viva will….eventually….help.

Even with Microsoft stepping into the ring by building tools and systems to help organizations better understand, track and measure, and achieve their productivity goals, there is work to be done to better define what productivity means within your own organization. Without a baseline definition, you may not be ready to accurately measure using tools like Viva.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.