Collaborating and Co-Authoring in the Cloud: Millennial Tips Edition

Millennials…what can we say about them that hasn’t already been said? One good scroll down any social media feed will inevitably return at least one Millennial joke (we may be guilty of taking a jab or two ourselves). The truth is that Millennials can be an amazing resource for innovative companies. Born between 1981 and 1996, this generation experienced their formative years during the technology boom and they are now the largest generation in the U.S workforce. They grew up with the collaboration tools some… shall we say… non-Millennials struggle with. This means that companies who really want to compete should learn to attract, engage and utilize these employees. At least our E.A (<–Millennial) thinks so. When I told her what the topic for this week’s blog was, she sent me this:

Millennials and PDF

You know Millennials love their memes and gifs, but this one happens to be the #truth. Let’s face it, modernization of the workplace goes a lot more smoothly when it’s driven by people who are on the cutting edge. 

Millennials on Collaborating and Co-Authoring

Millennials in today’s workforce just can’t even with multiple versions of documents during collaboration. We can’t blame them; we still have version control nightmares from the times when documents needed to be merged manually . It was no surprise that when Microsoft rolled out their Cloud-based collaboration and content features, Millennials dove in head first. That’s why we’ve gathered some Word Online Co-Authoring Tips from all our Rogue Millennials (and we’re sharing them with you).

NEVER save a document locally (OR attach it to an email for editing *shudder*)

How you open a document is everything. The Word “Edit” button allows users to open a document from Teams, SharePoint or OneDrive without having to save the document locally. When documents are opened using the “Edit” button, updates are live (meaning everyone working on the document can see the edits as they’re made).

The best part is that users can choose to “Edit in Word Online” Or “Edit in Word” so Word version preferences aren’t an issue.

(Note: In order to take advantage of the rest of the tips in this article, users MUST use the “Edit” button to open a document)

Edit in Word

“There really isn’t any reason to have more than one version of a working document. I completely appreciate the struggle of the generations who came before us but it feels so much easier to not have 45 versions of a document floating around. Also, who really has time or mental energy to wait for teammates to edit a document, one at a time? Am I Right?” (Jessica Jennings; Administration)

Millennial Tip: Use the “Share Link” button to invite collaborators to a document. Attaching a document to an email is just asking for a version control nightmare.

AutoSave Everything

Millennials really don’t understand why older generations are so scared of the Cloud. They think it’s lovely to never lose an entire document to an unexpected computer crash. AutoSave is the first and easiest benefit to garner from ditching the local save and working in the Cloud.

Autosave in Word Collaboration

Use Comments to Make Notes

Here’s a thing you probably didn’t already know: Millennials love texting and social media. Maybe that’s why they also love the comment feature for document collaboration? The comment feature allows users to highlight problem areas in a document and leave notes for team members (complete with the ability to reply directly to the comment). It’s kind of like a productive little social media post.

Comment in Microsoft Word Comment and Reply in Microsoft Word

There are definite benefits to using comments for collaboration but we’ll summarize: it’s a better way to collaborate with less time investment.

Using comments allows for simple communication (no program switching required), provides a built in tool for clarifying intent (replies), allows for real-time feedback (replies) and is fully trackable (notes and replies become part of the version history). All this means is you’ll never have to scan an entire document for highlighted in-line notes again!

Advanced Comment Tip: Use the Comment Shortcut Icon to Quickly navigate through comments in the document

Microsoft Word Comment Shortcut Icon

Meet contributors where they are

Version history may be the greatest evolution in Word collaboration ever! We thought it couldn’t get any better, but Microsoft out-did themselves when they added the Version History shortcut icon.

Scenario: You’re working on a document, delete a section and the document AutoSaves…but you need that section. Go back in time via the version history, and use the “Open Version” button to find the lost section. (Copy and paste into master document and it’s like the mistake never happened.)

Microsoft Word Version History Shortcut

One Millennial said:

“It’s really helpful to know exactly where co-editors are in a document. When a co-editor Skypes and says ‘I need help with this section,’ I really like that I can use the ‘Go To Location’ button to meet them where they are in the document.” (Greg Stallings; Research and Development)

Communicate within the Tool-Kit

“The ‘Chat’ option and ‘Skype’ shortcut icon are my absolute faves! I love that chatting with collaborators who are working on a document is so easy! I feel like I save so much time when I avoid switching from program to program.” (Sarah Simmons; Human Resources)

Microsoft Word CoAuthoring Skype Icon

Final Message from Millennials

Here’s the thing: Millennials were the first generation to learn Microsoft Office in Elementary School and technology has been a big part of their world since they were old enough to retain memories. Things that might feel challenging to older generations (like creating a fillable PDF) are actually really intuitive for them. They are digital natives, so we should rely on them for and trust them with Cloud-based collaboration. And there’s something that all millennials really want their guardian generation to know:

“We just want the world to know that we’re actually really great employees. I think that our propensity toward taking shortcuts is often misunderstood as ‘laziness.’ It’s not that we’re afraid of or incapable of hard work; we just really don’t see the point in working harder than we have to on any one thing. This ability to ‘work smart,’ paired with our tech knowledge and our innate ability to multi-task kind of makes us super valuable.”

We are always going to be working on documentation, so exploit the modern features of Word Online to make the work easier.

Get to It!

Before you can use these amazing Word Online collaboration tips, you need a place in the Cloud to store your working documents. Check out our Microsoft Teams tips OR schedule a demo and start thinking about your hubley implementation today!

~A (on behalf of workplace Millennials everywhere)

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