Office 365 Can Live On All Your Devices, All The Time

Let’s not kid ourselves, the era of showing up to work at 8am, sitting at your desk all day, and leaving it all at the office at 5pm is over. Although that’s still the “standard” work paradigm, most workers find a sincere need for mobile productivity, whether that’s due to a long commute on the train in the morning and evening, frequent air travel, working with clients or colleagues in different geographic locations, or a thousand other miscellaneous scenarios. (Show of hands: Who hasn’t had to slip away from a family holiday gathering for a few minutes to take care of something work-related?)

Our computing devices have had a parallel (if not causal) relationship with this trend, and because of it, our work is no longer tied to a single device or computer; instead, we work by using software, and that software must be available on all of our devices. That model is known generally as cloud services, and now that many people have more than one computer—often a desktop, a notebook, a tablet, and a smartphone—it’s the most efficient and powerful way to work.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft has retooled and unified a large swathe of its product offerings into Office 365, which essentially combines all of its best office-related software and augments and unifies them with cloud capabilities.

The result is really something more than “mobile productivity”, which is good, because merely being able to get stuff done while out of the office is not what the new reality of the workplace is about. Instead, it’s about needing to be productive, communicate with your team or clients, and collaborate on projects and data wherever you might be at the moment. It’s about flexibility, not just mobility.

No matter which device you’re using, you can stay plugged into your own Office 365 account, products, and services. For instance, on your desktop, you can enjoy all the Microsoft Office applications you know and love, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, and Access, but there’s more to Office 365 than just Office applications. For those who subscribe to one of the Office 365 business plans, they also get access to powerful email via Exchange Online, as well as SharePoint Online (for file storage and sharing as well as providing a sort of corporate social network with productivity features) and Lync Online, which is a unified communications tool that enables multi-way HD video conferencing, telephony, and more.

Microsoft Office 365

That’s a lot of power on the desktop. Suppose you’re waiting to board a plane and you want to take advantage of your time by tweaking a presentation you’ll be doing in the morning. You can simply fire up your personal laptop (or tablet), log into your Office 365 account, and open and edit your PowerPoint presentation using the rich Office app on your desktop. Before you board the plane, you want to make sure you can keep working on the file even when offline, so you sync the files from the cloud to your laptop so it keeps a local version but it knows to sync back your changes when you get online again. Because your files are saved to the cloud by default, even if your laptop goes missing, or you ran out of battery, you can retrieve and edit the presentation on virtually any computer through a browser using Office Web Apps.

Microsoft Office 365

Perhaps in another scenario, you’re at home for the evening but got an urgent work email from a colleague from one of your international offices who needs your input on a document. You can reach for your tablet, and rather than going back and forth on emails, you see that he is online through his presence, so you ping him with an IM. You two decided it’s faster to chat so with one click, escalate the IM to a call directly on Lync. The document he wants you to look at is already saved to the cloud on his SkyDrive Pro so he just sends you the link rather than sending you a version via email. You open the doc and start making edits to it together at the same time. You want him to see some charts you had built in Excel so you share your desktop via Lync so he can quickly see what you are looking at. When you are done, you can quickly save changes back to the cloud on his SkyDrive Pro so there is only one version that everyone is looking at without emailing different updated versions around. Now you can get back to the show you were watching before the commercials are over.

Microsoft Office 365

Or let’s say you’re at a conference or tradeshow, and an employee back at headquarters has some updated documents for you. While you’re standing in the cab queue, you can open the documents on your smartphone and check them out. You can also join a Lync meeting easily with one click on your phone to go over the updated documents with a couple of guys from a branch office.

It doesn’t matter anymore where you are, or which computing device you happen to have handy; you can collaborate, communicate, and create quickly and easily via Office 365. This is an important and dramatic shift in the way we can do business, and this isn’t something that’s still on the horizon; it’s here already.

Transform the way work with Office 365. Learn More.

Thank you to Microsoft Office 365 for sponsoring this article. Learn more about how Microsoft Office 365 can improve productivity for your team at: Microsoft Office 365.

Thank you Microsoft Office 365 and Technorati for being sponsors of this article. All opinions expressed here are my own.