Microsoft Loop: What it is and why it is going to change digital work
A new app for the Microsoft 365 suite is on the way.
To revamp the remote team working experience.
Find out here all the information available about Microsoft Loop and its multichannel collaboration canvas!
What you will find in this article
What is Microsoft Loop and what is its purpose
During the 2021 edition of the renowned Ignite event, Microsoft house confirmed the arrival of a new entry in the beloved Microsoft 365 suite.
We are talking about Loop, the tool that will transform digital work into a more fluid, inclusive, and cohesive process.
Indeed, the goal is to keep together business teams that increasingly find themselves collaborating from distant geographic areas, facing the cumbersome challenge of balancing displaced time zones, unstable connections and diametrically opposed work habits.
Microsoft Loop fits into this complex ecosystem as a new keystone designed to support remote communication and digital collaboration through innovative components, the canvas.
Although the adjective "innovative" is gradually - and sadly - losing its value, it is perfect in its original meaning to describe these collaborative canvases, which are a concrete proposal to overcome the inconveniences, frustrations and awkward silences of asynchronous team working.
Let us see, then, what the Microsoft Loop canvases are and how they work.
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Loop's 6 canvases for asynchronous collaboration
Microsoft Loop is meant to achieve two primary goals:
- To help people bring together and compare ideas, make decisions, and solve problems.
- To prevent the final word to always belong to whoever is fastest in responding to chat or e-mail messages.
At this point, the question that arises is, "Okay, but how?".
With canvases, which are components that allow you to create independent collaborative spaces that run across multiple applications within your Teams chats or Outlook emails.
Every piece of information in these polyform canvases is rescued from the constant stream of messages, proposals, digressions and reactions that characterize today's workplace.
Every new detail, which is entered into the canvas by users, is reproduced in real time in versions of the same canvas on different applications.
But that is not all.
Below, we list the 6 types of canvas Microsoft has released so far with brief descriptions and interesting use cases.
Enjoy your reading!
Microsoft Loop's bullet lists, checklists and task lists
How many times have you tried to make a point with your team and thus start writing a list, from the minimal numbered list to the more detailed checklist?
The problem is that, once posted in chat, this list gets buried by the constant incoming messages, which talk about the project on the table, yes, but also about the next project in the company, the comment made by some customer or the communication just released by the CEO.
Here you might think of using the "Pin" feature to foreground your list or creating a shared document to work on in peace.
These are not effective solutions, either in the short or medium to long term, for the following reasons:
- Even if placed in the foreground, the list remains editable only by the user who created it. Thus, new ones will always have to be written to keep track of updates.
- With the "Pin" feature of Teams, you can highlight only one item per chat. What if the team needs to create multiple lists for different purposes at the same time?
- Opening and sharing a document seems like the best way to organize tasks, compare and determine next steps. But why create a separate file when you can do all this, and more, directly from the group chat?
Microsoft Loop's checklists and lists save the day.
With them, you can share lists with the team that are editable by everyone and isolated from the general group conversation.
Each user can enter their own ideas into the list, at any time and from any device.
In addition, if the canvas has been shared via Outlook, the people to whom the e-mail was sent can edit the content without going through Teams.
Nevertheless, the added information will be automatically transmitted to all users with access to the canvas.
In this way, it will be easier to manage the organization of a corporate event, presentation or meeting, without creating mountains of shared documents that risk confusing even more.
Another highlight is the fact that you can collaborate on Loop checklists in meeting chats on Teams.
All meeting participants will thus have the opportunity to modify the list as topics are addressed or in case different decisions are made than those initially written in the canvas.
At the end of the meeting, the checklist can be sent to users who were unable to attend so that they can keep abreast of project developments and share their ideas in real time with the rest of the group.
Microsoft Loop's text paragraph
As we mentioned earlier, Loop's canvases are polyform, despite the fact that the goal is always to simplify collaboration between professionals.
A fourth type of canvas that serves this purpose is text paragraphs.
This component allows members of a group on Teams to compose multichannel text together. For example, the introductory email for a client or the keynote speech for the next business initiative.
As with bulleted lists and checklists, Loop's paragraphs of text also separate themselves from the general conversation and can be shared via Outlook and OneNote so that people outside the project team can be involved in the changes.
The experience is exactly that of working on a shared document, but eliminating all the inconvenient steps to spread it out and find it in the archives.
In fact, Loop's components are automatically saved to OneDrive and can be retrieved directly via the search bar found in all Microsoft applications.
In addition, you can also find the canvases you have access to on your Microsoft 365 home page.
In this way, you can create texts with your team from group chats, involve external people in the writing via Teams or Outlook, access the change history typical of OneDrive storage, and retrieve your drafts from any Microsoft app.
Not too shabby, right?
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Microsoft Loop's table
We now come to the fifth type of component made available by Microsoft Loop, namely the table.
To explain its usefulness, let's start with a practical example.
You and your team are working on a project, and soon there will be a meeting to discuss together the progress made and how to proceed in the coming weeks.
To save time and establish priority issues right away, you can open the Loop tabular canvas in your group chat and dedicate each row to a team member.
In the first column, each user can enter the tasks on his or her weekly To-Do List; in the second, he or she can specify what has been achieved; in the third, he or she can indicate what tasks remain and what is needed to complete them.
The fourth column, for its part, can be used as a space in which all users can leave their comments, thus helping individuals on the team to get what they need to continue.
This table provides a solid starting point for group meetings or will be able to replace them completely, saving time through the direct and fluid comparison it offers users.
In addition, you can share it via Outlook to update clients, suppliers or managers on project developments, receiving their comments, embedded in the canvas, on all apps where your table is present and in real time.
Last note: This Loop canvas is also useful for keeping team members who are unable to attend meetings updated, allowing them to stay on top of what the rest of the group is doing and to share their situation.
You will thus be able to coordinate your work at all times, regardless of the commitments and contingencies that often prevent you from meeting.
However, the Microsoft Loop table can serve other purposes beyond what we have seen so far.
In fact, it is the ideal support for collective brainstorming.
By using rows and columns to write down and organize the various user suggestions, you and your team can quickly come up with valuable ideas for moving your projects forward or starting new ones.
All you need to do is collect all the suggestions from the team and the people you are interested in involving in this activity, and then use the evaluation column to determine which proposal is the best.
Each user with access to the table will be able to cast a vote for the idea he or she prefers, also displaying the name of the person who suggested it.
Within minutes, you will have a way to know what decision to make to get the team to agree and proceed with the project.
Microsoft Loop’s agenda
Let's move on to the last available component of Microsoft Loop: the agenda.
Without dwelling on it, this canvas is used to organize business meetings, keep track of what is determined, and send to all participants - present or not at the meeting - the information and materials that have been shared.
In fact, the Loop agenda is initially created to draw up a discussion outline, which is useful for guiding the meeting.
Later, it can be edited by all users with access to the canvas during the meeting, so that no important point is lost or forgotten.
Finally, once the meeting is over, it is automatically sent to all the people who were invited to attend.
We must emphasize that the agenda not only records the notes taken during the meeting, but also its recording, complete with transcript, and the files exchanged among the participants.
Needless to say, how this component replaces, and even exceeds, the functions of a common recap email.
Microsoft Loop preview and 2 experimental canvases
Ignite is the annual event that Microsoft organizes to announce all the news that affects the universe of its programs.
In the 2022 edition, some interesting updates related to Microsoft Loop and its canvases were made public.
Among these news, three are the ones that most impressed us and that we want to share with you:
- A private preview of Microsoft Loop is available. So what does this mean?
Basically, the new Microsoft 365 app has been made available to the parent company's closest partners - including us at intranet.ai –.
This is because the app is still in the testing phase, and feedback from partners will allow Microsoft's developers to fix any bugs and add new features capable of meeting popular requests.
A date for release to the general public has not yet been announced, but it will surely be a historic moment in the world of hybrid work!
- The development of the "Polls" canvas has been announced.
This component of Microsoft Loop has been popularly requested by companies that are using the app in private preview.
It is a new canvas powered by Forms, Microsoft's app for creating smart questionnaires and surveys.
The goal is a given: It will be to compose and publish via Teams and Outlook canvas to gather opinions and responses even more quickly, smoothly and easily.
- The "Q&A" canvas will be out soon.
Following in the trail of partner requests, Microsoft has announced the arrival of another new component for Loop dedicated to the rapid collection of responses.
Although it looks similar to the "Polls" canvas, the intended purpose of this canvas is to replace the incessant e-mail exchanges, which proceed by claims and counter-arguments.
Instead, the discussion will be moved to a single multichannel space, formatted specifically so as not to lose the logical threads of the discourse and to reach a compromise between the parties as quickly and conveniently as possible.
This is what you can currently learn about Microsoft Loop, the app that will change the way we work with colleagues around the world remotely.
All that is left is to advise you to keep reading our blog to find out all the upcoming news!
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Microsoft MVP for SharePoint and Office 365 (now called Microsoft 365) since 2010, Giuseppe founded Dev4Side and intranet.ai with the aim of helping companies to have a simpler and more effective working environment thanks to Microsoft technologies. He works as a consultant for everything related to collaboration, intranet portals and Microsoft cloud platforms.
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