The Sunday Session: The idea behind the Sunday session episodes is to bring you a recap of the past week and anything that has come to my attention that I think will bring you some value all in a bit sized episode. In thise epsiode we talk about a personal example of a less than optimal employee experience. Some tips and recomendations of setting up and using Microsoft To DO with the Getting Things Done Methodology and then we dive into two features rolling out to Microsoft 365 and in particular SharePoint and they are:

  • Hub to Hub association
  • Team Site Navigation swithing

More information about the above two features:

The Sunday Session Transcript

Welcome to another Sunday session. We are going to cover a number of different topics that have caught my attention this week and a couple of personal experiences that I wanted to share as well.

The first topic I’m going to talk about, is how I’m using Microsoft To Do at the moment to set up and capture all of the inputs that I need to keep track of and why I’m doing that. We’re also going to touch on a little bit of a personal experience around the employee experience that I’ve had during the week.

Then also to wrap things up, we’re going to take a look at two really great features that are rolling out to Microsoft 365 and in particular SharePoint. That is the association of hub-to-hub sites, so hub sites to hub sites, and also the navigation switching options that are coming out through to SharePoint team sites.

Microsoft To Do as an In Tray

Now let’s tackle the first topic first, so Microsoft To Do. For those of you who are following my content, I’m on this journey into stress-free productivity and using the getting-things-done framework or methodology. The first step is being able to capture all of the inputs that are coming into my head and getting them out onto a list, so that I can take action or organize, and then clarify these things.

The tool I’m using to capture all of these inputs that I’ve decided on is Microsoft To Do. Now, the reason I’ve done that is because I can have Microsoft To Do on any device. So I can have that when I’m sitting at my desk, I’ve got it open all the time on my computer, and also I’ve got it on my mobile device.

I use it on my mobile device a lot. If something comes into my head, I can quickly grab out my phone, and I can use the To Do app on my phone. But I’ve also set up a Siri shortcut so that I can use my voice to actually add an item to a list that I’ve created in To Do called my in-tray.

Knowing and trusting the tool and being consistent is key

The other reason I use To Do is because I know and I trust that I’m going to look at that and use that every single day so that’s really important. Where I failed last time at this methodology is that I had too many different in-trays and too many different places where I needed to look and gather all of those inputs. But using what I’ve found over the last couple of weeks using Microsoft To Do is that I now have a single in-tray that I can then go to and I know and I trust that everything is in that in-tray that I need to then organize and clarify, and then take action on.

So just a little tip here. If you are wanting to get started with this path to stress-free productivity, what I would highly recommend is that you utilize Microsoft To Do, if you’re in that ecosystem, and just create a list, an additional list there called in-tray, and use that as your single list to get everything that you need to get done, that you need to remember, that you need to take action on, so that you can get it out of your head and onto a trusted list that you can then organize and clarify from.

The Employee Experience – a not so good experience

The next thing I wanted to talk about is all around the employee experience. I talk a lot about the employee experience, but oftentimes when we think about this, we’re thinking about our current employees or additional or new employees that are coming to our organization from somewhere else.

The experience I’ve had during the week revolves around young people or the younger generation entering the workforce for the very first time. This specifically is through my own family, so through my daughter who started a role or got a role at a local supermarket. Traditionally, or what is common here in Australia, is that the younger generation, if they’re still in school, typically the supermarket type of area is a first step for entering the workforce.

What’s happened throughout the last couple of weeks is that she’s being onboarded as a new employee via email, all right? So the communication, a series of communication emails has been sent, which is good, and they’ve all come and they’ve all hit her inbox with instructions on what to do and how to proceed and that type of thing. Now being a first-time person into the workforce, a lot of times this can be very, very overwhelming with the amount of things that that needs to be understood and tasks that need to be completed.

Don’t send instructional emails on the weekends if there is no support

One thing to note is that these communications appeared over the weekend, all right, so not during the week, but seem to appear in her inbox over the weekend. Now recently, or the last sequence of emails, mentioned about getting access to all of this organization’s systems, and by all of the systems, I mean six different applications that she needed to access, whether it’s for entering the pay details or accessing forms and benefits and logging time. There were all different types of applications and all separate applications.

The first step in that process that we went through, or that she went through, was to create an account. So this was a single account used for single sign-on to all of these applications, which is a good start. But there’s obviously six different applications, and what was interesting for me is that her first response is, “Why are there so many applications that I need to use? How am I going to remember which one does what and what I need to do when? And how do I use each one of these applications?”

So the second point was these email, or these step-by-step processes, as I mentioned, came over a weekend, and in one of those communications stated that she had 24 hours from receiving this email to get this account sorted out, sign up for the account, and then log into the system. Now we went through the process and created the account, which went all okay.

Now the last step was the instruction to click on this link and log into the application, let’s just call it XYZ, with the username and password that we just created. Now that ordinarily would be okay, all right? But when we went through that process, we got this error. “Sorry, we’ve got an issue with your account. This account doesn’t have a role in this system XYZ.”

Overwhelming and time to freak-out

Now for a first-time user or a first-time employee entering the workforce for the first time with so many things they need to try and understand and try and get done before they start on their first day, this type of stuff gets pretty overwhelming so it’s freakout time. “What am I going to do when I get to work for the first time in a few days, and I haven’t done everything that they’ve asked of me because of this error? What if everybody else has done all of this and it’s worked for them, but it hasn’t for me? What if I turn up to work and I just haven’t done all of this stuff?” So for a first-time employee, or a first-time person entering the workforce, that can have a really big impact on their experience or what they’re thinking about this whole process.

We couldn’t get this sorted out. So the next step I thought to do was to ring the IT help desk, which there was a contact number. So at last we did that.

Now, remembering back to before the communications were done over the weekend, so this was a Saturday, and the instructions were that we had to do this within 24 hours. But being Saturday, we ring the help desk and the help desk is closed. “You’ll have to ring back. Opening hours are 9:00 to 5:00 on Monday through to Friday,” all right? So we couldn’t get any help. So, again, freak out time again, we can’t get anything done, we’re going to have to wait till Monday, all right?

These things need to be thought about

Knowing these people are doing this more often than not for the very first time, then I just think these type of things need to be thought about, and they could have been handled in a little bit of a better way to provide a less stressful experience. As of recording, we still haven’t got all of this sorted out, and we haven’t been able to make contact yet with this organization to get this sorted out.

What this process and what this experience really did was really opened my eyes, to be honest, because we do focus a lot around the employee experience of everybody else that’s in the organization currently, and probably the people that are coming into an organization are coming from the workforce already, but not for somebody entering the workforce for the very first time.

There’s lots of things that need to go on, and lots of things going through their head, when they’re going through this process. They need to get their bank details done, tax file numbers, superannuation. All of this type of stuff needs to be done for the very first time, and it can be very overwhelming for these young people. And to, I guess, have these issues up front, and even just the simple fact that this communication comes on the weekend, and if you do have trouble, there’s nobody to ring and get assistance of, just becomes a bigger snowball and a lot more burden on a younger person that’s entering the workforce.

So just a little bit of, I guess, personal experience. For those that are reading this that are responsible or onboarding new employees as part of role, just remember to think about the people that are entering the workforce for the very first time and what that experience looks like for them as well because it can be very, very overwhelming.

SharePoint Hub to Hub association and SharePoint Team Site Navigation switching

Moving on a little bit now to two things that have caught my attention, and I know are going to bring value to a lot of people out there as well, especially in the SharePoint front, obviously. That is the ability to now associate hub sites to hub sites. So let’s have a talk and let me explain what this actually is and what we can expect from this feature.

No visual change

Now, when we associate hubs, there’s not going to be any visual change to the user experience, except when viewing the search results. So when we are viewing the search results, the breadcrumb path at the top of the page in that search results page will display the associated hub name where content can be found, and the hub site associations are designed to expand the availability of the related content to the end-users.

What this, in essence, means is that hub site to hub site associations create a network of hubs that roll up to each other to create these connections. And when hubs are associated to each other, the content in those hubs can be searched for and displayed on hubs up to three levels of association.

So if we take that a little bit of a step further, so what we do have… Let’s talk about the three levels here. So we’ve got a parent hub, so let’s just call that the top level. Think of that associated hub as level one or the parent, all right, and that determines the search scope for the peer-associated hubs. So then we’ve got the associated child hubs, the level twos, and these hub sites are associated to the parent hub site and the content within these sites, or these hubs, will appear when the users search at any level or any of these hubs.

We then have the third level, which is the associated child hubs, okay, at the third level, so we’re kind of building out a hierarchy here. So we’ve got the parent hub, we’ve got the associated child hubs, and then we’ve got the next level down from those associated child hubs.

Now this level here and all the proceeding levels of the peer-associate hubs behave the same way as the first level. So the content of the sites beyond level three, though, will not appear in the search results, all right, so it can become a little bit confusing there. I will post in the show notes the documentation around the hub-to-hub association so you can take a little bit more detailed look at how these hub-to-hub associations work, all right?

SharePoint Team Site Navigation switching

Moving on to the last topic here, and this is around the navigation switching option that is coming to SharePoint team sites. Team site owners are going to have the ability to switch team site navigation or the team site navigation orientation from the vertical, which we see on the left-hand side to horizontal as we see across the top.

Now, additionally, the site navigation visibility can actually be turned off completely as well, all right, which you haven’t been able to do that. So this new navigation options allows for site owners to customize their team sites by changing their navigation’s orientation and visibility to achieve a different look and feel and different layouts and alignment of your styles as well.

Now, the release that we’re looking at, or the release dates that we’re looking at here, so targeted release, which select users and the entire org will begin rolling out in mid-September and be complete by mid-October, and the standard will begin rolling out early November and should be completed by late November.

Where this is going to take effect is, and how you’re going to be able to do this, is when you’re in a SharePoint team site and you go to settings, change the look, there’s going to be a navigation section that will appear there, and in the navigation panel, users are going to be able to choose to show or hide the site navigation. If the users decide to display the site navigation, then they’ll be able to choose either the vertical or the horizontal orientation.

SharePoint Team Site Mega Menu

Another thing to note here is that the mega menu style, so your drop-down mega menu style, is only going to be available in the horizontal navigation. So when the navigation appears across the top from left to right, you’ll get the ability to have either a mega menu or a cascading style menu from that location, but not if you choose the vertical option on the left-hand side in your typical type of display for a team site.

So some great functionality there coming to SharePoint team sites, the ability to change your navigation from vertical to horizontal, and also when you’re in horizontal mode, be able to have a mega menu style navigation there, too.

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