Improving collaboration has long
been a concern for business leaders, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced
organizations to shift it to the top of the priority list. Among their
questions: What can companies do immediately to improve how people work
together? What about long-term? What can employees do? Which collaboration apps
hold the most promise?
Unfortunately, there is no
simple, one-size-fits-all approach for improving collaboration—indeed, it’s safe
to say that business leaders probably will never find a magic app or an easy
answer to those questions. Besides, they should know by now that, to truly
change the way employees work together, they must take into account multiple
factors that are different for each organization, including company culture, employee
receptiveness to change, the importance of communication and training, and
buy-in from management.
Still, technology companies have
continued to create apps that promise magically simple solutions. But instead of
inspiring a workplace collaboration revolution, this flood of technology is creating
“collaboration fatigue” and adding to employees’ high levels of anxiety and
But there’s real hope, and it
comes in the form of Microsoft’s Fluid Framework, a new web-based app that uses
a componentized document model, artificial intelligence, and the SharePoint cloud
platform to streamline and supercharge workplace collaboration.
You may not have heard much
about Fluid Framework—Microsoft started rolling out the preview in January and
February, right before the number of U.S. cases of COVID-19 began to climb. But,
considering the effects of the pandemic—a rapid, massive shift to remote work
and an even greater focus on collaboration—the app surely should be on every
Considering COVID-19's impact on the world of work—a rapid, massive shift to remote work and an even greater focus on collaboration—Microsoft's Fluid Framework app should be on every employee’s radar.
It’s still quite basic, but
Microsoft said it will be adding Fluid Framework functionality to some Office
365 applications, including Teams, OneNote, SharePoint, and Office
applications. Here are four reasons why you and your colleagues should check it
enables lightning-fast, multi-person co-authoring. Granted, any
co-authoring is better than using email attachments, Track Changes, and endless
document versions. But Fluid Framework’s co-authoring is hardly a lesser
evil—it’s remarkably faster than the current co-authoring experience in Office,
and it enables multiple people working on a document to see everyone’s changes as
they are typed.
breaks down content into flexible, easily editable, reusable chunks. Fluid’s componentized document model makes it
easy for you to break apart content into collaborative blocks and use those
blocks across other applications. For example, one chunk could be a table you created
in Fluid, which is being edited by multiple people simultaneously in Excel and
Teams. Everyone sees live updates as they are being made—no matter which
application they are using to edit the file.
- It uses
AI in smart, practical ways. For
example, it can translate text in real-time, provide additional copy and images
that are relevant to what you’re writing about, suggest the best kind of charts
to explain your data, and perform compliance checks.
- It’s a
Microsoft app, which means it will play nice with the Office apps you rely upon
Fluid Framework has been
rolling out to some commercial Office 365 customers since January, but, because
it is still in preview, it has limited features. Microsoft says it will be
adding capabilities and pushing them out over time.
You can still get a head
start on adopting the technology. Ask if your organization will be providing
training, support and other learning resources for Fluid. Find out how your
manager expects you to use it and ask for business case scenarios.
Be sure to also check it out,
nose around, and ask colleagues for ideas about how it could be used by your
department or team. Invite co-workers to test it out with you and put some of
those ideas into practice.
Keep in mind that when technology
implementations fail, employees are often impacted the most. Case in point: the
aforementioned “collaboration fatigue,” which was described in a recent Business Insider article as one-third of the “unholy trinity of
burnout” (along with emails and meetings).
Employees and organizations
put enormous effort into collaboration solutions—and even more so in recent
weeks. Take steps now to ensure your effort pays off.
If your organization has
access to the Fluid Framework preview, you can sign in via the Fluid
Preview page and
start testing it out right away.