Microsoft Loop is the new big thing from Microsoft after Teams. Loop is supposed to change collaboration for good in the future. We have heard similar wording in the context of Teams many times before, but Loop is not about the communication level – that still exists in Teams. It is about the document level, the “real” collaboration. Microsoft Loop offers a completely new place for this, with the Loop environment and entirely new possibilities that need to be explored!
What is Microsoft Loop?
With Loop, Microsoft moves the starting point of collaboration. In other words, when we work together in a team in Teams we will – hopefully – have a certain structure of channels. Let’s take marketing as an example. At the beginning of the year, we want to come up with some basic noise of content for our social media channels and put it into a time context on the calendar.
Usually, we probably start by brainstorming on the whiteboard or in Word, then we evaluate and structure the ideas in the same tool or maybe even use another one here. The next step is about scheduling still many people fall back to Excel because they achieve what they want relatively quickly and relatively easily with this familiar tool.
We see, even with this quite simple example, we end up with up to 3 documents that we need to achieve a single and relatively easy goal. The problems behind this – the documents don’t talk to each other and let’s not kid ourselves, creating a table as a calendar in Word is not much fun, neither is brainstorming in Excel.
With Loop, the whole thing will look quite different. Instead of using multiple apps or documents, in Loop, we can create a place where content of any kind can live and breathe. It’s a bit like OneNote in that aspect – the gamechanger is yet to come, so stay with me! Instead of creating a folder with multiple documents we now have one place, one page where we can add and co-author text, bullets, tables, tasks lists, and much more, all in real-time and at the same time – of course!
Back to our Use Case in the marketing team, we can now use a Loop component called similar to the whiteboard we know to get up to speed with our brainstorming. In the same place, we can then add a voting table below the whiteboard to decide which content should make it to our schedule for the next year.
Gamechanger here we come – each and every content can now be reused individually, even outside our Loop place. Sending the brainstorming in an e-mail to the design team? Integrating the voting table into teams? No problem at all. And the best thing is, if someone adds more points to the brainstorming or can’t do the voting until later, this content will be updated in all places – yes, even in the e-mail!
Microsoft Loop is catching up to the speed of collaboration today. The content of an email or a message is often outdated after a few hours, an update or even worse a decision based on old information is the result. Loop makes it possible for us to truly collaborate and make decisions in real-time – and much more!
What´s available right now?
Unfortunately, we can only use a part of the features now, and Microsoft is not giving any indication as to when this will change. Apart from the official Microsoft Loop page, there is only a little information from Microsoft. So far, there is no blog from Microsoft like for the other products. The release of Loop is announced for 2022. However, one feature we can already use is Loop components in Microsoft Teams chats. Already at the end of the year 2021, these have gradually appeared in the tenants, since then not much has changed.
For now, you can access 6 Loop components from the dedicated button in your chat and group chat options. The components themselves are virtually self-explanatory and things we already know from other office products. When choosing one of the options you can prefill it and add a title before sending it into the chat. Of course, you can also add a title only and edit the rest afterward together with your chat partners.
The components themselves are virtually self-explanatory and things we already know from other office products. When choosing one of the options you can prefill it and add a title before sending it into the chat. Of course, you can also add a title only and edit the rest afterward together with your chat partners.
Besides the entry point in the chats, you have the possibility to find Loop components in your office.com portal. However, you cannot create new components here, only access and edit existing ones. But even with these limited features, you can still already make great use of Loop in your day-to-day job, check out my tips for using Microsoft Loop in its current status!
Tips to get the most out of Loop!
TIP #1 You can use more Loop components when you initially created the Loop component in the chat! Using / you can access a whole list of other really nice features within Loop. One thing that hooked my attention here is the agenda component, the configuration of the tooltip makes it look like this may be incorporated in meeting implementations – or maybe it’s just a weird tooltip, I don’t know.
TIP #2 If you are working together on a Loop component in a chat or group chat, there is a high chance that you will lose track of it after a few messages. You can pin Loop components just like messages to avoid scrolling or even switching to the office portal. Just click on the menu of the message and select “Pin”. This way, everyone will quickly find back to the current Loop, but this only works for one item. Pinning multiple messages or Loops is not possible.
TIP #3 Loop components can already be used in meetings, Teams, or other locations via workarounds. Basically, you can handle them like a document that you just have to share with the right people. Two examples that can be a cool help in everyday life are certainly the integration in channels and in meetings.
You need to share the Loop component with the right people to achieve this. Sharing with a whole team is also possible, but save the link from the share. Then you use the possibility to add websites as tabs, you get the link from the share of your Loop and paste it in – bang, you have your Loop in the appropriate channel, and everyone can work on it. But keep in mind, it is still stored in your OneDrive!
The principle remains the same when you plan a meeting. The share must include everyone in the meeting, then you can also add a message with the link to the Loop or, of course, directly integrate the link in the invitation and thus create your agenda together.
TIP #4 Searching for your Loop components in the Quick access bar can be time-consuming and frustrating. Therefore, you can set up a content filter for this kind of content. To achieve this just click on the + next to the last standard content filter (in this case “Favorites”) and set the fitting filter options as shown below.
I am still stumbling across new hidden features and tips every week, make sure to stay tuned for updates on this section!
What´s coming and my point of view
Microsoft Loop is here to stay, and I think this will really change how we work compared to the pre-Teams era. Together with Teams, Loop will quickly gain ground compared to the classic “file work,” especially in agile projects and fast-paced environments. Hopefully, the benefits will outweigh the concerns in more conservative organizations. For my part, I am a little afraid about organizations denying Loop because of its ever-changing nature. On the same page, I hope for some smart features to export or save a current status or maybe even freeze Loops temporarily.
Let’s leave technology aside for a moment. Microsoft is moving fast in the Microsoft 365 world, and it’s hard to keep up with them when you have to transfer new features and tools to several employees whose job is not to use Microsoft products in the first place but to get work done. It’s yet again a big change for the people to cope with, and many organizations are still struggling to implement Microsoft Teams to its total capacity, not to speak about the Power Platform.
In the end, I believe that Loop will, just like Teams, take some time to grow to its full capacity, and organizations will take time to understand and adopt it – but I can’t wait to try it!