For the past few weeks we’ve discussed the benefits and setup of integrating Microsoft 365 with RingCentral. For those already using the RingCentral for Microsoft 365 integration, the benefits are clear. But like that album purchased for that one catchy track while the other songs become your actual favorites over time, a few practices with this integration will really stick with you.
As we move more of our work experience into the browser, learned behaviors begin to change, slowly. At first this transition feels a little strange. But over time the real benefits in efficiency and productivity start to shine. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up after using this integration for a few weeks.
1) Consolidate your address books
It’s been the norm to have separate contacts for phone and email. In previous positions, I might have had three different contact lists: contacts I saved in email, a corporate directory (sometimes just a Word doc emailed around every few months), and a separate address book combining professional and personal contacts. I might even include my cell phone address book as I often added contacts I met at events or the personal cell numbers of colleagues on an ad hoc basis.
The subtlety of sorting through disparate sources caused me frustration, as I would look for an individual’s most recent email address or phone number. But out of necessity, I just had to push through and figure it out.
The cloud allows me to easily consolidate and sync my email and phone contacts. Better yet, I can save contacts to RingCentral as easily as I might to my cell phone. All sources are pulled together and accessible from each location, whether I’m at my desk using the RingCentral integration within the Microsoft 365 window, or on the road accessing a contact from my mobile phone.
2) Schedule a meeting without leaving Microsoft 365
We’ve all been here before: You receive an email from a colleague requesting that you set up a meeting. You log in to a conference website and enter the date and time. You create the meeting after a few extra steps, copy the information, go back to your email app, click on calendar, create the appointment, copy over the log in instructions, and hit send.
How many steps was that? What if you don’t remember your login for the conference call program? How many additional steps will that add?
When we operate on autopilot, the number of actions can seem minimal. But when we get the chance to simplify the process into, say, half or a quarter of the steps, the number of actions we have been taking becomes clear. With the RingCentral Microsoft 365 integration, we are able to do just that.
3) Click, don’t dial
It’s Monday at 9:30 a.m. and you’re catching up on your email. You receive one from a colleague asking to call to discuss a few points around an upcoming project. You look at the number and begin the dialing process: You look at the first three numbers and look away to your desk phone sitting beside you. You pick up the handset and dial the first three numbers. Then you look back to your screen for the next three. You look down at your phone and dial those. Then you look back at your screen for the last four. Except, it being early in the morning, you can only pick up on two at a time. Then your fingers hit the wrong buttons and you have to start over. Not only can this be frustrating, but it also causes a drastic break in concentration.
Here’s how I dial now: I plug my headset into my laptop from my desk, home, or anywhere with Wi-Fi. I click on the number. That’s it. No mistakes in dialing, and I’m able to keep my mind on the task at hand.
4) Practice, practice, practice
Remember that this is a different way of working and interacting with a phone. It won’t come naturally at first, but it will with time. I found right away that trying out the features and dedicating even a little time at first to figuring out how to make this work for me resulted in an increase in productivity almost immediately. Knowing that I can simply click to dial numbers in my email was strange at first. I have traditionally thought of the phone as a separate device on my desk or in my hand. And now it’s sitting there in my email, ready to be used with just the click of a mouse. But the more I use it intentionally, the more I am able to do it without thinking. And it is this lack of intentional thinking that allows me to stay focused on the task at hand, rather than the task of using a communication tool.
Have you tried using the RingCentral for Microsoft 365 integration yet? Share your comments and feedback with us in the comments below.
Originally published Aug 25, 2015, updated Aug 11, 2020