sitting alone on stairs
PHOTO: Elisabetta Foco

When you hear Office 365, you probably think "collaboration" straight away. The propagation of teamwork as the way to work has hit an all-time high, and employees have to follow it. However, while a collaborative working style has proven itself highly effective, it’s impossible to collaborate all the time.

Employees who lean towards a more solitary approach to work may meet the collaboration-driven Office 365 without enthusiasm, thinking it cannot answer their need for a unique digital workplace. Fortunately, users can find their own piece of privacy within the suite.

So let’s go through Office 365 collaboration and productivity tools to see what they offer for your individual work.

Working Solo in Office 365: The Tools of the Trade

Delve

The starting point of this journey is Delve. Delve is a place to create your user profile that summarizes all professional and personal information. The app also puts all of the files you work with on a single page, so you can quickly find a document — be it in SharePoint, OneDrive or Outlook. Delve also includes a blog feature that lets you publish any blog-like content.

However, Delve Blogs are tricky. While you access them from Delve, physically they are located in a separate SharePoint site collection that exists independently from SharePoint team and communication sites. The only way to put it together with the rest of your SharePoint content is via custom coding.

Overall, Delve successfully replaced many debatable and underused SharePoint MySites. However, due to functional boundaries, it can’t serve as the basis of your individual digital workplace.

Let’s move on and look at two task management apps.

To-Do

Generally available since October 2017, To-Do is now a rightful member of the Office 365 family. Having replaced the much beloved Wunderlist, To-Do now handles users’ timetables, meetings and tasks. You can use the app separately to manage both work and personal activities and be sure that no one else accesses them. Although To-Do doesn’t have its own API, it’s still possible to connect it with Outlook. With that connection in place, you will be able to manage to-dos together with your inbox tasks.

Planner

Planner is a tool for team project and task management. However, Planner also allows users to create private plans and fill them with personal tasks. By enabling Outlook notifications, you can receive reminders to keep you on track with your plan. If you are an active SharePoint user, you can add your plan to a SharePoint site or page. Currently, this trick needs extra coding. Fortunately, Microsoft is currently working on the Planner web part, so users will soon be able to add their Planners to SharePoint sites with one click.

OneDrive for Business

Also worth mentioning is OneDrive for Business, which will help you organize your private file storage. You won’t need to use any third-party services or your personal accounts to keep your documents, images and presentations. Using OneDrive, you can create structured libraries with all files that you work with, even if you don’t need or want to share them with anybody else.

Yammer and Microsoft Teams

Next, come two Office 365 collaboration tools: Yammer and Microsoft Teams. Obviously, it’s strange to speak about collaboration tools in the context of working alone, but both apps allow low-level one-to-one collaboration. Both apps enable creation of private groups and teams that won’t be accessible to anyone else. Both apps can be suitable for one-time or regular private communication with colleagues or customers.

Sway and Stream

If you work with graphics and media, you may want to turn your attention to Sway and Stream. In Sway, users can work on photos, presentations and a variety of text content with graphic elements (press releases, official announcements, surveys, etc.). No one will see or access your Sways until you decide to share them. Working in Stream, you can have your individual channel to edit videos, show them to the users you select and follow other video channels.

How to Create the Digital Workplace for One?

You can find a private space in every Office 365 app. But it’s uncomfortable to switch between multiple apps to manage tasks, blogs, store files or communicate with a colleague one-to-one. To put all of the pieces of your individual workplace together, you will need to turn to another powerful Office 365 app, namely SharePoint. By default, SharePoint doesn’t offer a personal digital workplace out-of-the-box, but it can become a foundation to build one.

In small companies, employees can have their own SharePoint sites to organize their activities. In large organizations, it will be more logical to offer personal pages within SharePoint team sites. The modern layout in SharePoint today allows you to easily create a SharePoint site or page according to your tastes and working needs using a built-in page constructor. Your personal site or page can host all of the different content types you work with, including documents from SharePoint and OneDrive, quick links to all the resources you need at your fingertips, events, tasks, Yammer conversations, Stream channels and more.

With some additional development effort, you will also be able to bring Microsoft Teams, Sway and even Delve Blogs to your SharePoint working space. Over time, you can change your site or page functionality, disable unused features and add needed ones, thus creating an optimal digital workplace for one within Office 365.