How to use Microsoft 365's remote collaboration tools to work effectively from home
Microsoft 365offers a number of remote collaborationtools, including SharePoint, OneDrive, and more.
- A Microsoft 365 subscription lets you collaborate remotely with almost anyone who has a computer.
- Microsoft also has a communication app called Teams that lets you chat and share files instantly.
Microsoft offers a wealth of collaboration tools to share files and information with coworkers and clients. There are so many tools, in fact, that it can hard to choose which ones to use.
To help users know which app to use at which time, we've rounded up Microsoft's most popular remote collaboration tools and provided a guide to getting your work done.
How to use Microsoft 365's remote collaboration tools
Collaborating with OneDrive
OneDrive is Microsoft's cloud storage system, and all Microsoft 365 accounts come with a generous amount of storage (a full 1TB per user). This makes creating and storing all your files in OneDrive a no-brainer.
Not only do you not need to worry about filling your computer's hard drive (or the data getting corrupted), but keeping your data in OneDrive's cloud makes it easy to share with others.
To share a file with one or more other people, do this:
1. While working on a file from within an Office application like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, click "Share" in the upper right of the window - it should be in line with the tab menu.
2. Enter the email address of the individuals you want to share with and type an optional message.
3. Click "Send."
That's all you need to do to share access to the file with someone else, but you have more options as well:
- By default, the recipient can edit the document you're sharing. If you'd rather only let them read it, or you want to only make it temporarily accessible, click "Anyone with the link can edit" and make your choice.
- You can also specify how the file will be shared - you can click "Copy link" or "Outlook" to get a link to the file and send it yourself.
- If you prefer to send a copy of the file (in Word or PDF format) rather than sending a link to the file, use the "Send a copy" button at the button of the pop-up window.
Co-authoring a document in Microsoft Office
One of the most powerful collaboration tools at your disposal in Microsoft 365 is the ability to edit a document simultaneously with two or more people. This way two or more people can work on the same file at once, notes and comments can be shared in real time, and you don't have to wait for one person to finish an edit before another person can start.
1. Be sure your file (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) is saved to OneDrive, not just your local hard drive.
2. Share the file in the same way you would if you wanted to send someone a link to the file: Click "Share" in the upper right of the Word, Excel, or PowerPoint window.
3. Add the names of the people you want to collaborate with and then click "Send."
4. When the collaborators open the file, everyone should have the ability to edit and make changes to the document at the same time. You should see icons for each collaborator at the top-right of the document window, and you can see a cursor with their initials in the doc which indicates where they are working. Changes will appear in real time.
5. Collaborators can add comments within the document to discuss editing issues.
Collaborating with SharePoint
SharePoint is one of Microsoft's oldest collaboration platforms, used in enterprises and other large businesses. It's an intranet - an online resource where teams can collectively store files, access team sites, and share information.
Here are some of the ways you can use SharePoint:
- Store and share content with other users and access files created by others.
- Manage team workflows for automating the movement of documents through a required series of steps that satisfy your organization's business requirements.
- Allow access to a library of team and corporate resources.
- Brainstorm by building an interactive intranet site within SharePoint and inviting users to access and collaborate.
How to share a file using SharePoint
While SharePoint has a lot of sophisticated features, don't neglect one of the most useful tools: sharing files with others. It works almost exactly the same as sharing within an Office app.
1. In SharePoint, select the file you want to share and then click "Share."
2. In the pop-up Share window, choose who you want to share it with (you can generally choose to share it with anyone who gets the link, people in your organization, or specific people), and if you want to enable editing on the document or to share it as read-only.
3. Click "Send."
How to copy a file between SharePoint and OneDrive
With all these collaboration tools, sometimes you'll find that files aren't where they need to be to share them with the right people. In particular, you might have a file on SharePoint that you need to copy to OneDrive or vice-versa.
- Select the files you want to copy and then click "Copy to."
- Select the location you want to copy the file to. You'll see different options depending upon whether you're in OneDrive or SharePoint.
- Choose the folder in the desired location where you want to copy the file and then click "Copy here."
- If you encounter a problem copying very large files, you might have run into a file size limit. You can only copy files up to 500MB at once using the OneDrive website, for example - for larger files, you can copy them using Windows Explorer on the desktop.
Microsoft Teams is a real-time communication and collaboration tool that lets your team stay in touch and work together. It lets you chat one-on-one with individual coworkers, have group chats, and share documents. Here are some of the most important uses for Teams for sharing and collaboration:
- You can chat in real time instead of waiting for responses in email.
- You can work in channels in teams that are organized by project, organization, and common interest. Teams channels let people focus on just the chats and information they need to see and what interests them.
- You can get someone's attention by mentioning them with @username in any Teams conversation or channel.
- You can open Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents in Teams and collaboratively write and edit the file as a group. Two or more people can open a document in Teams and edit it together in the same way that's described in "How to co-author a document in Microsoft Office" in this article.
Collaborating with Skype
Skype is a free communication app that anyone with a Microsoft account can use to chat, conduct voice calls, and place video calls. But Skype for Business offers some unique capabilities and can be an important element in any team's collaboration and communication toolkit.
- You can use Skype to have two-way and group conversations using text chat, voice, and video calls.
- You can present PowerPoint decks in video calls and give control to other participants within the meeting.
- Skype is available within other Office applications, so you can launch Skype for Business from within Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to collaborate on a document in progress.
- In addition to small group and individual conversations, Skype can be used to broadcast meetings to large groups.
- Skype can show when contacts are available online or are busy in meetings.
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