With hybrid working now a viable alternative to full-time office-based working for countless businesses and organisations, many are still organising, implementing, and deploying their systems. A great proportion will already have had some systems in place to allow for fully remote working, but these systems will need adjustment if they are to be flexible to meet the demands of a hybrid environment.
Large tech companies like Google and Microsoft have been working since before the pandemic to make such things possible. Microsoft’s development team are now unveiling the start of the next set of features that they’ve been working on – the Fluid Framework, and Fluid Components. The idea for Fluid Framework was initially announced in 2019, but the pandemic forced a shift in focus to their Teams platform, which was a core component in allowing many businesses and organisations to operate during this time. With restrictions easing, Microsoft have announced what is set to be the first part of a huge update for the way people work and collaborate while using Microsoft 365 and Office.
Essentially, the Fluid Framework allows users to create Fluid Components – dynamic segments of data that exist outside of a static document, allowing people to update multiple documents at one time, just by editing a single instance of it. Fluid Components are not tied to one specific piece of software like OneNote or Outlook, but instead exist on the Microsoft 365 platform as a piece of live data. Right now, you can make lists, tables, meeting information blocks, and notes – but that list is set to expand as the system grows and evolves behind the scenes.
Microsoft’s Teams platform, Outlook, OneNote and Whiteboard are to be the starting areas for Fluid Components. For example, one of the first instances of Fluid Components in everyday use will be in Teams. For every meeting that’s scheduled in Teams, a data block (fluid component) will be generated. Participants can then drop that block into OneNote, into Outlook or onto the Whiteboard. Anyone involved can edit the block, or items in it, or create a new component. If a list is added to or meeting notes taken, the data block will then update in ALL instances. So, if a fluid component has been copied and pasted (or dragged and dropped) into five participants’ calendars, three people’s OneNote files and a whiteboard, then someone edits the list attached to it – ALL of the related data will update in each of those files.
Dynamic data that can update in this way is a potential game-changer for many teams who work collaboratively, whether their working environment is fully office-based, hybrid, or fully remote – it means everyone has access to the same data, and people are not potentially left with outdated or incomplete information.