Here at MJD, we have always strived to look for increased efficiencies and improvements that can be implemented to better the experience for our clients.  With everyone’s increasing awareness on their impact on the environment as you’ll probably be aware MJD started using electric vehicles almost 3 years ago.  We decided we’d take our environmental activities to the next step so let us take you through some interesting and thought-provoking ideas that you can incorporate into your IT usage to decrease your impact on the environment and how the way we operate helps reduce our clients IT environmental impact.

Have you ever considered the environmental impact of your email inbox?  That’s right, we mean your inbox where you receive your emails on a daily basis.  It is a common misconception that it is harmless to store every email and send a quick email, because it doesn’t take up physical space and is so easy to file away.   However, did you ever consider the energy used to send that email or to store that email in your file archive?

A recent BBC article (link below for further reading) explored this and reported that if every person in Britain simply sent one less thank you email we could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year!  The carbon footprint of an email, comes from the electricity used by all the devices required in the process of sending an email.  The server that sends the email, the server that receives the email, the router in your network, each PC receiving the email.

Now, each individual email has an extremely small impact, but this sparks the discussion of how our behaviour with our IT infrastructure can affect the environment.  It is the same for storing an email, this takes up space on your PC or server, and maybe also space on your back up device.  This means it’s one more file to store and back up, which if you combine this with everyone in your organisation, equates to more electricity used to store and back up the email, this can also save you money in the cost of your backups as they are often determined by storage requirements.

In the grand scheme of things, a reduction in the emails you send has a relatively small effect on the countries overall carbon emissions.  However, there are more impactful ways we as businesses can contribute to making a difference through extending the lifetime of our devices.  Here at MJD, we always strive to make sure our clients get the most out of the investment in their devices, however, sometimes it no longer becomes economically viable to repair a machine.  In this instance, we always offer device recycling and we work with a local charity, ReBoot who repurpose the PC for less intense situations or break down the equipment to their individual parts and repurpose what can be used and recycle what can’t.

We want to take this a step further and work with our clients to actively seek out opportunities earlier in the devices lifetime to help extend its life and therefore the need to purchase new equipment and recycle the old.  We will be getting in touch with our clients over the coming months to discuss with them potential areas for improvement now which would extend the life of the device to try and help our clients increase the return on investment of their devices further while also doing their part for protecting the environment. This in the long term will also save capital costs on renewing devices, the only exception would be where a device is inefficient and needs to be replaced.

Another option can be using refurbished devices, now stock and availability of certain types of devices and specification vary daily therefore, if this is an option you wish to explore with us, we will find out what our suppliers have available and offer you options at the time.  This is also a viable option and we can discuss how this would match your requirements both specification and environmental factors to see what options we can find for you.

In addition, at MJD we’ve always taken the approach with our vehicle fleet and site visits of scheduling with the view of combining site visits into geographical areas to maximise time and fuel efficiency.  This keeps the services we provide for our clients efficient and also helps us to reduce our impact on the environment.  We also have currently operated with two electric company cars for over 3 years and find that the range and useability of these cars more than fits our needs.  It has been our intention that when we require to replace one of the vans in our fleet we will be seriously considering an electric option, to further expand our electric fleet as the mileage range has increased and the need for site visits reduced with improvements in remote connections and functionality as such they are now a contender for a van replacement.

As a company and a family, living and working in the beautiful countryside of the Moray Firth, we are always looking for new ways big or small to help reduce our impact on the environment, from collecting crisp packets for recycling (when we were all working in the office pre-COVID19!) to investing in electric vehicles to increasing our use of video conferencing for meetings to avoid travel. Let’s make IT work for YOU and the environment!

Link to BBC Article:  Climate change: Can sending fewer emails really save the planet?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-55002423

Today, we are going to create a guide to the most common features you may want to use within Teams and highlight some of our most used and favourite ones within MJD.

To begin with, we’ll explain what Teams is and how it is setup.  Teams is an online communication tool created by Microsoft to allow groups of people, teams, to communicate and collaborate easily.   It also aims to do this all within one window for you, minimising clutter in your taskbar.

First off, you will need to setup your “Team”, you can have multiple Teams within the programme which can have different collaborators, so you may setup each department of your company as a Team for example.  Within each Team, you can have different channels.  So for example, within your Engineering Team you may have the following channels; Projects, Drawings, Workshop or you could have your company as a Team, then each department as a Channel.   This is where you can completely customise the setup to what will work best for your company.

When any new message or activity takes place within a channel, you will receive a notification and the channel will become bold with a red number next to it for how many new notifications in that channel.  You can set your notification settings differently for each channel.  When you are in the channel you wish to set your notifications for, click on the three left dots on the top right-hand corner and go to “Channel notifications”.  You can then chose to turn them off or have all notifications or set customised notifications.

To see all the most recent activity within your Microsoft Teams, you can use the activity section on the left-hand side.  This will show all the most recent activity within your own teams and you can navigate between the updates in the panel on the left-hand side.

To chat to an individual colleague in one of your teams, the chat section is where to do this.  You can then chose your colleague and chat/share files.  You can also share your screen to demonstrate or show your colleague something you are working on.  It can be really useful when showing a colleague how to carry out a task when we are now working from home.

In each conversation, whether that be with your team or an individual colleague, you will see there are a few tabs.  The Files tab will show you all the files you have shared within this conversation or channel and allow you to move, open, edit and work together on the files.

You can add tabs to each channel which allows you to collaborate on a variety of apps.  The most common one you may wish to add is OneNote to allow you to create a Notebook for that Team so that you can save notes that everyone may need to access, for example, meetings minutes, task lists etc.

Another useful feature to be aware of and make use of is your status.  This can be changed by clicking on your profile picture and then choosing a status from the menu.  It is worth noting that in the Do Not Disturb status you can setup whose notifications can still make it through to you.  This means you can still ensure any high priority messages get through to you, without general and lower priority messages disturbing you.

We can also get Teams to let us know when a team member becomes available, to do this we right click on the Team Member and chose “Notify when available”.  Teams will now tell us when their status changes to available by a notification in the bottom left-hand section of the screen.  Much like an email notification when you receive a new email.

Hopefully this will help you to get started in Microsoft Teams and get you confident to explore the features but any questions on Microsoft Teams please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD and we’ll be more than happy to help make IT work for YOU.

 

With us now moving towards working models where we may be a flexible mix of working from home and working on site and in our offices, the ability to takes notes and have them on our person where ever we are has become increasingly important. And with the requirement to reduce the amount of our own things we take into spaces where they could pick up contamination of COVID-19 from communal spaces, we need to think about maximising our use of technology.

We want to introduce Microsoft OneNote to any users out there who do not already utilise the programme. Or if you are aware and already use, hopefully we can share some handy tips and functions within the programme to maximise your usage of OneNote.

OneNote is a flexible electronic notebook, which you can access from your phone, PC, tablet, laptop etc so long as your notebook is linked to your Microsoft account. If you have 365 you will already have a Microsoft account you can log in with. If not, it only takes a few minutes to setup and link your OneNote notebooks too. This means the notebooks will be stored in the cloud so from any device which you have the app installed on it will sync and update your notebooks.

One of the key ways you can make OneNote really work for your business, is sharing notebooks between team members. This allows everyone to see the information held within them, to action tasks on check lists etc. Your imagination is the limit for the uses a shared electronic notebook has! It encourages collaboration and can be used during meetings for everyone to have access to the notes, tasks can be added to a To Do List as the work day progresses or can be used as a handover tool when people are out of the office, those covering have access to shared notes that may help them cover the work in their colleagues absence.

Within OneNote you can setup your notebooks in very much the same way as a physical notebook. You can have separate notebooks, sections within the Notebook and then different pages within your sections. Your sections can be colour coded and each page can be given a title. I find this personally much more organised than a paper notebook as I can easily find the notes I want from the title of the page, rather than numerous sticky tabs with small handwritten titles that wear off and disappear over the course of a working day!

Within a page, you can have text notes, use a pen tool, format your notes to have headings and layout different boxes to highlight particular information for yourself. A particularly handy formatting function that I use is the check box. I have a separate section just as my To Do Lists using the check box function which allows me at a glance to see tasks still to complete. There is also a dictate feature within OneNote if you are on the go and need to quickly add some notes. The audio record function can be useful when in a training or a meeting which you’d like to take more detailed notes from later, given that everyone in the room is happy for you to record. The sound recording is then embedded in that page in your notebook for review later. This was a handy feature while at university, to further augment the notes for studying later from lectures.

A handy automatic feature, is when you copy and paste text, images, content from online, OneNote will automatically include a link to the source in the Notebook for you. So gone is the issue of trying to remember where you read the information or searching through your browser history to locate the source. A useful tip for anyone at university and writing essays!

One feature that may be useful if you prefer to handwrite notes on your tablet or mobile with the Ink function, is the “Ink to Text” function. This means you can use the Lasso tool and select your handwritten notes and it will do it’s best to turn this into text. Obviously, this depends on how clear your handwriting is!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the features of OneNote but just a few highlights we find useful ourselves here at MJD. Hopefully this has been insightful and sparked some ideas about how you can use this Microsoft Office offering to help in your daily working routine. If you have any issues or would like some further help in setting up OneNote please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, we’d be more than happy to help. We have included a small run through video below as a visual aid to where some of the features above are located within OneNote.  Lets make your IT work for you!

 

 

Key Timings in Video:

Share Function – 00:27.30

New Sections and Pages – 02:37.36

Change Section Colours – 04:08.46

Search Function – 04:22.20

To Do Lists – 05:31.00

Dictate – 06:14.20

Ink to Text – 07:00.50

Automatic Source Copying – 08:25.83

Audio Recording – 09:04.93