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Helping Hybrid Teams Collaborate Effectively and Securely with Microsoft 365

Following on from the last two years of working amidst COVID-19, most businesses have had to adjust and adopt a hybrid working model. In fact, a recent survey by McKinsey reveals that 90 percent of organisations plan to do so as COVID-19 restrictions ease up. Hybrid working is set to become a daily reality for modern workplaces of today and the future.  

But even if your organisation is fully on board with making the move towards a fully modern workplace, getting your organisation ready – both from an operational and technology perspective – can be complex and feel like a daunting undertaking. With some of your employees working remotely full time, and others choosing a hybrid working model, your IT team will have to take into consideration the dynamics of employee engagement and inclusivity, comprehensive device management, providing secure access to files/data, and protecting against data loss.  

The following four methods demonstrate how Microsoft 365 will help your hybrid teams collaborate more effectively and securely and prove how immensely valuable Microsoft 365 can be in helping you get your hybrid workplace fit for purpose.   

Protecting against lost or stolen credentials with Multi-Factor Authentication 

According to the Cost of a Data Breach 2021 Report by The Ponemon Institute and IBM, compromised credentials are responsible for 20% of breaches at an average breach cost of $4.37 million. This can occur for a few reasons. For one, your employees may not have a full understanding of the ways their credentials could be vulnerable. They could also use weak or insecure passwords, which hackers can prey on to gain access to various touchpoints. The reality is that at least 65% of employees reuse passwords across multiple sites. 

Given that most employees today are working in a hybrid working model, it’s highly likely that your employees could be using insecure networks to access corporate systems, files and data. This happens when employees connect to an unsecured, public WiFi network or Hotspot. In such instances, hackers can easily gather useful information from your activities and gain access to your corporate network, files and data.  

Microsoft 365’s Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) feature can help mitigate this threat by adding a layer of protection for the sign-in process for your employees. So, whenever your employees access accounts or apps needed to do their jobs, MFA will require them to provide additional identity verification, such as a fingerprint or entering a code sent to their mobile device. This will give you the assurance that your corporate networks, files and data will not be compromised and accessed by unauthorised users.   

You can also take advantage of more advanced features within MFA, such as conditional access and risk-based conditional access. For example, if you want to require all your employees to use MFA when signing into devices, apps and networks, you can create a Conditional Access policy within MFA. You could also choose to incorporate known network locations, known as Named Locations, to your Conditional Access policies. These Named Locations could include trusted networks, such as those for your main office location. In this case, your IT team could then choose to not require MFA when accessing a cloud app from the corporate network and instead, add a configuration to the Conditional Access policy in MFA.  

Maximising inclusivity and engagement in hybrid meetings with Teams 

With hybrid working fast becoming a daily reality in organisations, it’s not feasible or scalable to return to the old conference room meeting model. New technologies are essential and must be optimised to keep employees and clients engaged, happy and productive.

Microsoft Teams, one of the applications included in Microsoft 365, fits the hybrid working bill perfectly as it brings together meetings, chat, calls, collaboration and business process automation in a single app.  

In a hybrid working environment, remote employees can often feel isolated, disengaged and excluded from their onsite colleagues. Therefore, it’s increasingly important for you to consider what remote employees need to see to fully engage in hybrid meetings. It’s not just about the physical; it’s about making them feel seen and heard. Microsoft Teams Rooms tackles this inclusivity and engagement challenge with hybrid workers – using new video layouts, users can expand the screen real estate and disperse the video gallery across multiple displays when content isn’t shared. So, remote participants show up larger and truer to life.  

The value of Microsoft Teams doesn’t stop there; remote meeting participants can also see who is in the meeting room and what is going on in that meeting room, which is made possible by the advanced AI-powered camera technologies to provide new video views optimised for hybrid meetings, allowing every person in the room to be seen more clearly. 

Maintaining data securely in the cloud with SharePoint  

For over two decades, SharePoint has been Microsoft’s gold standard when it comes to virtual collaboration and SharePoint Online has been pivotal in driving adoption of cloud-based collaboration. The benefit of SharePoint is that it offers a secure location to store, organise, share and access your business information from any device. Access to SharePoint and its hosted content is faster than using a traditional VPN, remote desktop or mapped drives. And the platform can be accessed from any location across a multitude of devices, including desktops, smartphones and tablets – making it ideal for hybrid teams.   

Cloud storage comes with a multitude of benefits for businesses, such as increased productivity, cost savings and centralising access to corporate files and data. But if the wrong solution is used, it can put your data security (and compliance) into serious jeopardy.  

With SharePoint, you can rest assured that your data is protected. When you put your data into SharePoint, you remain the owner of the data. And because SharePoint uses a PowerShell console that requires two-factor authentication, Microsoft performs day-to-day tasks by running workflows so it can rapidly respond to new situations. Check-ins to the service also require code review and management approval. All these security measures mean your corporate data is robustly protected in SharePoint.  

Protecting against malicious links with Defender Safe Links 

Email phishing attacks have become one of the easiest and most common ways that hackers can gain access to corporate data. According to a Palo Alto Networks’ investigation into security threats facing employees who work from home, worldwide phishing attacks ramped up at the peak of working from home during the pandemic. Unfortunately, a lack of preparation for such attacks, often contributes to these threats. And because most employees aren’t IT trained or skilled, they have difficulty in deciphering between legitimate and malicious email links. 

The reality is that most employees receive hundreds of emails a day and their inboxes are often filled to the brim with unread messages. So, they don’t always have enough time to give each email the attention it deserves. Hackers know employees are time-poor and stressed – and they take full advantage of it with email phishing attacks.   

Safe Links is a feature within Microsoft 365 Defender that provides URL scanning and rewriting of inbound email messages in mail flow as well as time-of-click verification of URLs and links in email messages and other locations. This feature can be a tremendous asset to your IT team and your entire organisation, as it can help to protect against the sending, receiving and sharing of malicious links that are used in phishing attacks.  

Want to learn more about powering hybrid working with Microsoft 365? Get in touch with one of our experts today. 


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