Are you moving with the times?

Recent events have shown us how quickly things can accelerate.

You only have to watch, read or listen to the news to understand that.

And one area where you are always going to see rapid change is in technology.Moving with The Times

For the forward-thinking VA, ready to absorb it and adapt, this is always good news. Knowing that bright minds are constantly exploring and developing ways to make your life easier, more productive, more collaborative and also fun.

Take Microsoft Teams, for example.

Corporates have had this communications and collaboration tool in their systems ever since it was introduced in 2017.

But it’s only now, three years’ later, that the rest of us are hearing so much about it.

Because more people have been working remotely from home, they have been looking for solutions for video calling, conference calling, and delivering training sessions, courses and programmes online.

That’s why Teams – like Zoom – has experienced an explosive increase in users.

But very quickly, many people on 1-2-1 and group video calls realised something they did not feel comfortable with. Their bedroom, kitchen, dining room, conservatory or even study does not resemble an office.

Suddenly, the whole world could see them – and what was behind them – on camera. And this made some feel awkward, a little embarrassed or perhaps ‘unprofessional’.

People would see their disorganised shelves, the colour and state of their walls and curtains, or maybe a bit of clutter in the background. They would hear people comment on their own background – or get so distracted by other people’s backgrounds that they were unable to tune in 100 per cent to the business conversation at hand.

This prompted many to look for a solution. Some even went to the expense of investing in green screens (like the ones I use for my training and podcasts).

Noticing this trend, Microsoft recently began rolling out a new feature to Teams: customised background effects.

Users can now create more than a ‘background blur’ to make things behind them less distracting. People can choose a more ‘professional’ office look or go for something a bit more silly and fun (such as a cartoon beach scene).

Have you seen that in your Teams?

Have you tried it out yet? What background is your favourite?

The aim is to make video meetings more productive and a bit more fun. And the developments are not just on the visual side.

If you are in the USA, you may have noticed what’s happened to Cortana, the ‘personal assistant’ for Windows 10.

Moving with The TimesMicrosoft is moving with the times. It is also shifting direction in some respects. For example, it has moved away from offering Cortana to consumers (and operating like Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant). The company is repositioning Cortana as a more business-oriented tool.

For those who prefer to speak instructions rather than tap some keys and buttons, the future just got brighter for you.

In the States, Cortana now offers a chat-based way to find information, check your calendar, connect with people, set reminders or add tasks to To Do.

Microsoft has also updated the Play My Emails experience in Outlook (features will appear first for iOS and then Android devices). It allows people on the go to schedule a meeting in response to a mail, add an email to their list of tasks or send a “running late” message to all participants in an online meeting.

This is only happening in the States for now, but you can expect a wider international rollout in due course.

The main point is this.

The world is changing. It’s changing fast. We have to be ready. We need to be prepared. We need to adapt. It’s important to keep moving with the times.

If others embrace the technology and we do not, we may get left behind.

The same goes if clients and companies start asking you to carry out tasks and projects for them – and you’re not up to speed with the most efficient way to do that in Microsoft 365.

There’s no need to panic if you know what you’re doing. It’s why I encourage VA’s to think smart and get to know the essentials of each application they use or may want to use in the future.

That way you’ve covered whatever clients throw at you – and they’ll be impressed with the calm, confident way you say “No problem”.

I am on a mission to help VA’s, Executive Assistants and PA’s to do more in less time – and make more money. It’s why I offer training in Microsoft 365, whether you’re on Windows or Mac.

Take your choice. Search the complete range of my online courses for a specific topic or go ‘The Full Monty’ and get access to everything.

Can’t find what you are looking for or have any questions? Simply get in touch.

You’ve got this.

Shelley Fishel



P.S. In case you were wondering… Yes, I do have a course to show you How to Use Microsoft Teams.

I’ve also created a version dedicated for trainers, speakers and coaches.