On February 4, 2021, Microsoft announced Microsoft Viva, their new employee experience platform. The announcement created a buzz in the Microsoft sphere of the Internet for a couple of weeks, but then slowly faded away. In the first week, our customers were asking, “What is this Viva thing that Microsoft just announced? Is it a new product from Microsoft?” It took a while for me to wrap my head around Viva, but at last, I found the answer. Viva is not necessarily a new product line from Microsoft. Instead, it’s how Microsoft has branded a set of new and repackaged employee experiences built within Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams.
Why does Microsoft need to call out employee experiences and create a dedicated platform for them? There are products within Microsoft Teams and Office 365 that are geared towards employee experiences. I think, by being a facilitator for 2020’s remote work transition with Teams, Microsoft has been watching and analyzing new employee experience patterns. Also, they have been conducting studies of remote work to predict better where things are going in that area. All the significant studies published recently—not just the ones published by Microsoft—about remote work point to one interesting conclusion:
Employers and employees think that remote work has accelerated productivity, and fewer employees want to go back to the office full time; however, the sense of disconnect, digital fatigue, and burnout has increased among employees.
Therefore, helping companies reinvent employee experiences in a hybrid work world has become essential for Microsoft. I don’t believe that Microsoft Teams or Microsoft Viva alone will solve all these challenges at once. But building apps and services around Teams with the employee experience framework is an effort in the right direction from Microsoft.
Employee Experience and Return to Office Plans
As you build your return to office plan for 2021 and beyond, you must consider both the physical and the digital worlds where your employees inhabit. The HR department must ask questions like, “How I can make my employees’ digital lives more meaningful? What do they need more (or less) of in their forty-plus hours of staring at a screen each week? What is at stake if I don’t take a proactive step towards building a better digital world for my employees?” Then work with the leadership teams to invest in modern collaboration platforms, apps, and devices that will provide better employee experiences.
Microsoft Viva is one piece of the puzzle. If you are already on Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, bringing Viva to your employees is not that complicated. For example, Viva Connections—one of the modules in Viva—is free, and your IT staff could roll it out with few changes to your SharePoint Online settings.
Microsoft Viva: Description of Modules, Pricing, and Availability
Microsoft Viva is comprised of four modules: Viva Topics, Viva Connections, Viva Insights, and Viva Learning.
- Viva Topics will collect and organize the knowledge around any topic in your organization’s Microsoft 365 environment using Microsoft Graph and AI. Viva Topics is generally available now. The price is $5 per user, per month.
- Viva Connections will work as a SharePoint app within Teams. You can use Viva Connections in Teams to bring curated news and articles to your employees. Viva Connections will also bring content from Yammer and Microsoft Stream. Viva Connections is now generally available, and you can start using the module at no cost if your users are licensed for Microsoft 365 and SharePoint.
- Viva Insights will work as the workplace productivity and wellbeing portal for your Teams users. Viva Insights will be tied to MyAnalytics and Workplace analytics in Microsoft 365. Headspace integration and Virtual Commute that Microsoft announced last year for Teams are also going to be included in Viva Insights. The Insights app is now available in Teams with minimum features. More features will be available later this year. The Insights app in Teams is free, but additional features like MyAnalytics and Workplace analytics might require an additional license.
- Viva Learning is the enterprise-grade learning management solution in Teams. The app will bring Microsoft’s own learning apps like Microsoft Learn, LinkedIn Learning, and third-party learning apps to Teams. The Learning app in Teams will be available at no cost, but you will have to pay for subscriptions within the app. Viva Learning is currently in private preview and will be generally available later this year.
If you don’t have in-house expertise in deploying services like Microsoft Viva or understanding the licensing nuances of it, you can reach out to our Modern Work and Security Services team. We’ll be happy to get you started.