At Microsoft, we’re transforming our search and task-completion experience into a unified, informed, and automated digitally assisted workday enabling our employees to manage their workday, find information, and get things done quickly and easily.

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At Microsoft, we’re creating a seamless, effortless workday experience for our employees, enabling them to manage their workday, find information, and get things done quickly and easily. We’re transforming our search and task-completion experience into a unified, informed, and automated digitally assisted workday that improves our employees’ productivity and helps them achieve more.

The digitally assisted workday is part of a broader vision for providing the most productive employee experience possible as we continue our digital transformation. To learn more about how Microsoft is achieving this vision, refer to Reinventing the employee experience at Microsoft.

Establishing a vision for workday productivity

The digitally assisted workday is rooted in a functional vision—our employees have the unified, highly informed, assisted, and automated experiences that they need to be empowered, productive, innovative, and satisfied. Our vision is to help our employees save time during their day so that they can focus on more critical, complex work responsibilities.

The unified employee experience creates an empowering, productive, and personalized workday with consistent tools and a centralized access hub. Great search experiences enable our employees to find relevant information in whatever context they need it, including proactively delivered information and insights that fit their needs and interests. Personalized assistance and automated task completion provide simple, accessible help for routine tasks and the capabilities to automatically complete those tasks when applicable. We envision all these experiences working together to help Microsoft employees get the most out of their day.

Creating the workday of the future

We’re designing the digitally assisted workday to improve the Microsoft employee’s daily work life. We want our employees to have easy access to important tools, to be informed with an unmatched search experience, and to receive assistance on the go. We’ll provide an automated experience to support employees’ workday, enabling them to focus on high-value tasks and innovation. For example, a typical Microsoft employee’s day might resemble something like this:

  • When you’re at home, getting ready, you’re briefed with important information about the day ahead.
  • You confirm your morning rideshare trip and reserve your return trip for that evening. You also check your wellness benefit account and submit a receipt for workout equipment that you just purchased.
  • While you’re commuting, you check your vacation balance and remind yourself to record your time away for an upcoming vacation. You also check your stock options to determine when your next vesting period occurs.
  • On campus, you use an employee-focused app on your mobile device to find the building and meeting room where your meeting is taking place. You also browse the café breakfast menu and place an order.
  • While you’re walking to the meeting, you use natural language and voice on your mobile device to find the email that your manager sent that contains the updated budget information. When you enter the meeting room, you transfer the budget attachment content from your mobile device to a wall display for meeting attendees to view.
  • While you flag your status as busy during the meeting, interruptions via chat or email are suppressed, and an automated response is sent to your colleague suggesting a time to meet when you are both available. After the meeting is finished, you receive a transcription that includes automatically generated follow-up actions based on the conversation.
  • When you’re back at your desk, you submit a company-matched request for a recent charitable donation. As you proceed with your workday, you get assistance in context and find work-related information and answers efficiently through any of the Microsoft 365 channels. You can log or approve expenses, check the latest company news, or look up the date for your upcoming training event, without leaving your current experience.
  • As you pack up to go home, you’re briefed on your schedule for the next day. You also get suggested follow-up tasks based on email communication, and recommended breaks and focus time are added to your calendar.

Understanding the workday experience at Microsoft

Enabling employees to quickly find information wherever they are and providing an efficient way for them to complete their planned tasks are significant contributors to employee productivity. Companies—including Microsoft—are focusing on giving their users a unified and coherent experience with improved search capabilities and the ability to act on what they find.

Employees want information to get their work done, and it’s essential that they obtain the right information or next action. Within the Microsoft internal search portal, only 52 percent of searches conducted in 2018 were successful and more than 50 percent of monthly queries were new, creating a complex and diverse search set. Internally, Microsoft has more than 7 petabytes of data. Much of that data contains inconsistent metadata, which has made it difficult to obtain relevant results or connect and aggregate information repositories. Our employees commonly cited the following issues in the past year:

  • Fragmented user experience. Microsoft employees use multiple apps and tools every day—to find information, schedule commutes, record time away, find a conference room, manage benefits, and more. These experiences are sometimes disconnected and difficult to use.
  • Low-quality search results. The search environment doesn’t account for personalized information or context, and search experiences don’t extend into task completion. Search content is out of date or contains irrelevant material, and it isn’t prioritized or sorted effectively.
  • Too much time spent on routine tasks. Users often use multiple tools to complete a task or find what they’re seeking. Employees must switch between interfaces and experiences to perform their work. This increases the time spent on mundane and low-value tasks and reduces the time available for innovative, creative, and high-value work.

Our employees need fluidity and consistency throughout the workday, and it was taking them too long to discover and execute tasks. When employees must stop what they‘re doing to try to find information and execute simple tasks, their productivity decreases. Studies show that it takes 25 minutes to return to the original task after being interrupted. This results in an average 40 percent productivity decline when trying to multitask.

Our employees’ sentiments on their workday environment underscore the need for a more unified, informed, assisted, and automated experience:

“I wish I had one central location to manage my life at Microsoft.”

“My ideal work experience would include fewer manual tasks, like tracking expenses and vacation.”

“At times, it’s hard to make connections with people outside my team.”

“I work with teams across the globe. Scheduling meetings is just so tedious and time consuming. I wish there were a bot that could figure out the best time to meet, taking time zones into account. Then, the bot would follow up with each attendee if they don’t respond within a defined period so that we know if they can attend or not.”

“I would love to use fewer internal tools. That would start me off efficiently, save me enormous amounts of time, and give me a great progress boost.”

“At work, it would be nice if our tools and systems were integrated by using the same back-end data, instead of requiring me to navigate through different portals depending on what I need.”

Transforming the digitally assisted workday

The digitally assisted workday will make resources such as information, people, files, and answers easily discoverable and contextually integrated throughout the employee experience. We want to present highly relevant information to our employees before they even know they need it. We believe that the digitally assisted workday facilitates a significant shift toward increased employee productivity. We want to place our employees in an environment where they can find the key person who can answer the question that no one else can, thus creating person-to-person connections.

We’re enabling our employees to locate the document they need quickly, be informed about an app that will double their productivity, or efficiently accomplish frequent and tedious tasks in context. Microsoft Digital is partnering across the Microsoft 365 portfolio with SharePoint, Bing, OneDrive, Office, Teams, and Cortana to make this vision a reality. The goal is to deliver intelligent, personalized, and interconnected experiences to Microsoft employees and our customers. We’re focusing on three major pillars, as depicted in the following figure.

A equilateral triangle representing the pillars of the digitally assisted workday. The base of triangle is labelled "assisted and automated" and represents personal assistance and automated task completion pillar. The left side of the triangle is labeled "unified" and represents the unified employee experience pillar. The right side of the triangle is labeled "informed" and represents the great finding experience pillar.

Figure 1. The pillars of the digitally assisted workday.

Unified employee experience

Microsoft MyHub will provide a simple, personalized, and mobile experience for employees to quickly navigate employee life, do what they enjoy, and achieve more. MyHub is an app and web portal that unifies the employee experience. It puts common tasks, including commuting, managing benefits and pay, scheduling dining, navigating our campus, and more within a centralized tool. MyHub enables employees and partners to simplify their lives at Microsoft and be more productive. With MyHub, employees can easily discover task-completion options and then personalize their preferred tasks in a single location. This gives employees quick access to information and tasks that matter to them. The unified experience eliminates the need to access fragmented tools and creates one simple, seamless experience.

We’ve designed MyHub to provide personalized experiences for employees in context. By receiving relevant, curated content, each employee is better connected to the Microsoft company, culture, and mission. With MyHub, we’re providing tools for employees to ensure they make the most of their Microsoft benefits, identify career-development opportunities, obtain training, and more. We’re prioritizing and developing several employee-focused scenarios, including the following:

  • Taking time away. I want to be able to quickly check and record my time off for vacation, illness, floating days, jury duty, or bereavement. I want to know what holidays are coming up and quickly note these days on my calendar.
  • Staying connected. I want to be aware of company news and events so that I can be a valuable contributor.
  • Booking transportation and travel. I want to be able to easily find, book, and manage my shuttle and rideshare trips. I want to easily book and track work travel when I need to take a trip.
  • Checking dining options and ordering ahead. I want to be able to find the nearest café, get its menu, receive notifications for my favorite food, and order ahead. I also want to know what food truck options are available on Microsoft campuses.
  • Tracking and submitting expenses. I want to be able to quickly submit, find, view, and approve or reject expenses, purchase orders, and invoices.
  • Getting walking directions. I want to be able to quickly find directions to people’s offices, meeting rooms, cafés, restrooms, copy rooms, and other points.
  • Managing and celebrating employees’ careers. I want to acknowledge significant achievements during my Microsoft career, like work anniversaries or promotions. I want to easily find resources to grow my career, understand and broaden my network, and mentor or be mentored. I want to know what required training I need to complete, and what other training opportunities might be available.
  • Booking a meeting or conference room. I want to be able to easily find and book an available conference room in Microsoft buildings at a convenient time and place.
  • Viewing pay and stock information. I want to conveniently review my paystub and understand my stock options.
  • Managing and inspiring my team. I want to know with a glance what actions I must to take to manage and grow my team, find additional resources, and ensure that team members have what they need to do their best work. By submitting kudos on MyHub, I give colleagues feedback on our collaboration, detail how we’ve built upon each other’s successes, and demonstrate how we can improve together.

Great finding experience

Our goal is to enable our employees to find relevant and accurate information quickly and easily, regardless of the search channel or work context they’re in. Microsoft Search provides consistent and coherent experiences across a broad set of search channels in the company, such as SharePoint, Bing, and Microsoft 365 products. We’ve modernized and upgraded our previous enterprise search experience with Microsoft Search to give our employees the context-based environment they need and provide the most relevant information based on their search activity.

The new search experience is personalized for each user, providing the most relevant results for the user’s role and context. Microsoft Search provides intelligent, user-specific recommendations, enabling them to continue where they left off or letting them connect easily to their co-workers within the enterprise by using intelligent Microsoft Graph technology.

We’re developing Microsoft Search to be a single, simple search experience that spans the entire enterprise. It provides an intelligent search experience that results in a coherent, consistent interface across the apps and devices that our employees use most. Microsoft Search is embedded in Microsoft 365, and it’s designed to fulfill search and knowledge retrieval across the web, collaborative workspaces, personal information, and enterprise knowledge sources. It provides high-performance, relevant search sessions that connect to all experiences by using Microsoft 365, Microsoft Graph, and customizations. We’re using Microsoft Search to:

  • Build a more consistent and contextual search experience across various search channels that employees use, such as Microsoft SharePoint portals, Office, Outlook, Bing, and Teams search.
  • Increase search success for users through advanced analytics and failure insights.
  • Provide enhanced people-centric and expert-search capabilities that help employees find experts across our organization.
  • Supply increasingly relevant results, enabling employees to be more productive quickly.
  • Enable voice and natural language support to enhance the search experience.

Going forward, we will develop more personalized and intelligent experiences for employees that deliver answers and insights directly in search and use natural language to determine user intent. Understanding the user from an activity and network perspective is fundamental to a highly personalized, informed, and connected workday and workplace experience.

Personal assistance and automated task completion

More than 50 percent of our employees’ frequent searches are for getting things done. We want our employees to have the tools that they require to efficiently complete common and tedious tasks. Integrated, in-context experiences will provide our employees well-placed, easily discoverable solutions through automated task completion, such as opening a support ticket or approving an expense report. Natural-language capability in the search experience will provide quick access to answers and potential actions, enabling employees to complete tasks.

The new paradigm for work has moved away from the traditional workday and workspace into an anytime, anywhere model. Microsoft employees move around throughout the day and can’t be tied to their computers or offices to be productive. From their morning commute to navigating buildings, to getting home at the end of the day, our employees now use multiple ways to keep up and get things done. Assisting employees wherever they are allows them to get briefed on their day, get caught up while they’re in motion, and gain insights using a variety of devices.

As the digital-assistant realm expands in the consumer environment, users are beginning to expect that the voice and productivity technology that they use in their homes is available at work. We’re investing in personalized and in-context technologies that empower our employees to focus on what matters most and allow them to get work done efficiently and seamlessly across all roles and environments, within a secure, trusted enterprise experience.

Personal assistance and in-context automated task completion focus on enabling employees to continue working in their current context. We want the natural flow of an employee’s work tasks to continue undisrupted. This means providing digital-assistant capabilities that automate routine tasks through contextualized and personalized interactions across the tools and interfaces that employees use daily.

When employees are using their work tools, personal assistance and automation will be at their fingertips. Employees will no longer need to shift focus to complete mundane tasks. We’re creating an environment where employees can get things done in context and get personalized, intelligent, and connected experiences wherever they are. Employees will receive available meeting times and recommended shuttle reservations if they look up a colleague. Travel booking and expense logging will be available from within the Microsoft Teams experience as employees discuss their planned business trip. Our systems will learn from behavior and suggest and complete tasks on behalf of users.

Providing in-context experiences

In addition to MyHub, we’re also building these capabilities into our most commonly used search tools, MSW, our internal company news and information portal, and Microsoft Search in Bing. We recognize that employees have different interaction preferences, so we’re also using Microsoft Teams and Cortana to provide text-based and voice-based digital assistance to our employees on whatever device they’re using. We’re supplying task completion that fits our employees’ personal needs without taking them away from what they’re doing. Some examples include:

  • Microsoft Search in MSW and Bing. Task completion built into search results, including vacation, shuttle, dining, and facilities requests and reservations.
  • Microsoft Teams. Task completion built into the Teams interface for shuttle, rideshare, dining, help, facilities, and approval requests.
  • Cortana. Self-help instant chat with a support agent, to open a support ticket, schedule office cleaning, or make other requests.

Conclusion

We’re creating a seamless workday experience for our employees, enabling them to get things done quickly and easily. With Microsoft Digital's vision-led approach and strong collaboration with our core product partners, we’re creating a unified, informed, assisted, and automated digitally assisted workday. In the future, we’ll free up employees’ time to do their most innovative work, continually reducing and eliminating delays that reduce productivity. We’ll make it simple and efficient to find the resources, people, and information that employees need to get their work done or to achieve that next big idea or breakthrough. The digitally assisted workday helps employees get things done by assisting and automating routine task completion so that Microsoft employees can go further, faster.


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