Back to Work!

I’ve been on leave helping take care of my son for the last months, so I haven’t written anything for a while.

Time away from work has been refreshing, though I do feel like I’ve let down the fans.

Dear IamJoshKnox fanbase – Returning to work, your flood of messages in my inbox, your handwritten notes of gratitude, your trending of the #WhereIsIamJoshKnox hashtag on twitter were all incredible moving. To the thousands of fans out there (or is it millions? …are fans even something you can count?), I say thank you for your consistent support and encouragement.

Example of handwritten notes of gratitude

I feel like I owe you all an account of what I’ve done these past months and what I’m looking forward to.


What I’ve Done – Parental Leave

Parental leave was a joyful time bonding with my son and watching him grow. Every day consisted of multiple meal-times, nap-times, and diaper changes – though not always in that order. It taught me so much.

Meal-times taught me Persuasion.

Nap-times taught me Patience.

Diaper changes taught me Persistence.

Patience, Persistence, and Persuasion – the three P’s of parenting (at least the ones that don’t involve bodily functions). Fortunately, these skills are also exceedingly useful in the workplace.


What I’m Looking Forward To

Learning What’s New

During my leave, a whole new version and Platform updates were released for Finance and Operations. I’m looking forward to digging into these new features (and writing about them here…for the fans🙂

DynamicsCon

Mark your calendars for September 9-10: DynamicsCon is a first-of-its-kind, FREE virtual learning experience for Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) & Power Platform users and professionals. Having been away from the community for so long, I’m really excited about engaging with other Dynamics users during this virtual user group event.

Regular Work

Coming back from paternity leave is a return to normalcy. There’s tons of Dynamics implementation work to do, and we’re getting back into the swing of things. I’m glad I have a really good assistant.

Resource Roundup: Virtual Meetings

There is so much good content on the internet *insert shocked emoji*. Resource Roundup is a series to organize links, ideas, and advice around a specific topic.


We’re Working From Home. We’re using Teams. Virtual meetings are more and more a part of the modern workplace. Here are some resources with suggestions on how to make them more effective.


Resource Roundup – Virtual Meetings


Project Management Institute

The Seven Secrets of Successful Virtual Meetings

Leave it to the makers of PMBOK® to provide a nice 2×2 grid about how to best meet across time and space. In all seriousness, I think this is an important insight. Technology makes it so easy to have a virtual meeting – but the first question should be is a virtual meeting appropriate to the common objective, especially considering the time and place constraints of the participants.


Harvard Business Review

How to Run a Great Virtual Meeting

I like this article because it highlights that a key to making meetings great happens before and after the meeting itself. Setting a clear agenda and getting alignment before the meeting helps clear roadblocks to the real, necessary conversation that needs to take place during a meeting. Water-cooler talk after a meeting is an important part of processing its contents. Because virtual meetings don’t have physical water-coolers, it can be valuable to formalize water-cooler time as the ending structure of a virtual meeting.


Matt Wade

9 Things You Need to Stop Doing During Online Meetings

A solid list of virtual meeting “don’t”s. The don’t I most enthusiastically agree with is “Don’t ask open-ended questions to everyone”. Addressing questions to specific people is better for virtual calls because 1) It increases engagement and 2) It avoids the awkward virtual meeting pause where nobody responds, then multiple people respond, then nobody’s quite sure who should start talking and who should stop talking. These are two social problems where virtual meeting technology is still lacking behind face-to-face meeting technology.

Matt has also created a fantastic guide to MS Teams etiquette. I embrace his effort to try to formalize best-practice social conventions for the new online communications technology.


Joel Leichty

5 TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR WORK FROM HOME VIDEO CALLS

Turning on your video camera during virtual meetings helps create connection with others, and also helps you monitor your own focus. I appreciate this article for highlighting that we shouldn’t be afraid to turn on our cameras at home just because we’re not dressed for the office. “Work From Home official video dress code is ‘Casual But Not Pajamas’.”, with an encouragement to bathe in the morning is a pretty good mantra.

After bathing, good lighting and an elevated the camera angle are simple things that go a long way to improving the video experience.

Additional Reading
Matt Wade – jumpto365
Joel Leichty
Project Management Institute

Resource Roundup: Microsoft Teams Advanced Tips

There is so much good content on the internet *insert shocked emoji*. Resource Roundup is a series to organize links, ideas, and advice around a specific topic.


Following-up on yesterday’s Microsoft Teams Resources, here are some advanced tips for Teams.

Shortcuts

As regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of shortcuts. They are also useful in Microsoft Teams. Below is a helpful hotkey list put together by cheatkeys.com


Live Captions

When you click the ellipsis during a meeting, you may notice a new (preview) feature called “Turn on live captions”. Clicking this provides automated captions at the bottom of the screen. These captions are only available in English, and will only be privately visible to you (ie not visible to every one else in the meeting).

Machine generated alternative text:
a 
O 
Help 
4 
00:39 
@ Show device settings 
Show meeting notes 
(D Show meeting details 
Enter full screen 
Z. Start video with blur 
Invite peo 
Tum on live captions (preview) 
O Start recording 
Tum off incoming video
Machine generated alternative text:
a 
O 
Help 
4 
00:39 
@ Show device settings 
Show meeting notes 
(D Show meeting details 
Enter full screen 
Z. Start video with blur 
Invite peo 
Tum on live captions (preview) 
O Start recording 
Tum off incoming video

Teams Windows Application vs Web Application

If you are reading this, you probably have the Teams windows application (and you might even have the Teams ios or android application). But you can also access teams in any web browser by going to teams.microsoft.com.

One current advantage of using the web application is that you can have multiple instances of Teams open in multiple tabs (or on multiple monitors). Doing so allows you to use chat or access files while following a screen sharing meeting at the same time.


Augmented Reality

Harnessing the power of the Snap Camera, you can throw a little augmented reality into your Teams video calls. Full details on how to set it all up for Teams can be found here.

The Snap Camera comes from Snapchat, and basically adds an augmented reality filter to your computer’s camera then makes it appear to other applications that your camera plus the AR filter is a new camera that can be selected. To be honest, I found most of the filters to be rather juvenile.

Pizza in Microwave

This is actually a very useful filter, especially since my wife no longer lets me put my camera in the microwave following the incident.

Palm Tree Background

If I wanted a palm tree in my video background, I would just paint a palm tree on my back office wall.

Tie on Head

If I wanted to impress people with a tie on my head during video calls, I would just tie a tie on my head during my video calls.

Let me know when Snap Camera rolls out the Clean-Shaven-Face filter. Then we can start talking about Augmented Reality as a business essential.

Resource Roundup: Working From Home

There is so much good content on the internet *insert shocked emoji*. Resource Roundup is a series to organize links, ideas, and advice around a specific topic.


Writing has been hard this month. In the face of a global pandemic, blogging about business applications has felt…inconsequential. I’m privileged to be able to work from home. I recognize many people are working from home for this first time this month and it will be an adjustment. I feel for the many more people whose work cannot be performed from home (two-thirds of the labor force) and whose livelihoods will be most impacted by the current crisis.

I’ve worked from home for most of my career; it’s still been a difficult month for me. Everything inside my home office is the same, but the outside world is very different. It was incredibly validating to read the tweet below. I’ve reread it frequently over the past weeks.

Adding one tip to the list below: be kind. Whether interacting with customers, colleagues, or vendors: we’re all doing our best to cope and persevere.


Resource Roundup – Work From Home Tips


GROOVE

47 Insanely Practical Work From Home

My Key Takeaways:

  • Add breaks to your schedule.
  • Reach out if you are feeling alone or isolated.

Ars Technica

Suddenly working at home? We’ve done it for 22 years—and have advice

My Key Takeaways:

  • Establish an exercise routine.
  • Consider getting a pet.

Jake Reeves

5 TIPS to Remain PRODUCTIVE Working from HOME in Self-Isolation

My Key Takeaways:

  • Make effort to separate work and home spaces.
  • Think about workspace lighting.

New York Times

The Tech Headaches of Working From Home and How to Remedy Them

My Key Takeaway:

  • I should look into upgrading home-office equipment.

Harvard Business Review

The Two Things Killing Your Ability to Focus

My Key Takeaways:

  • There are too many distractions.
  • There are too many meetings.
  • Minimizing these is probably the secret to happiness.