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3 Power Automate Templates to Improve Communication with Your Remote Teams

3 Power Automate Templates to Improve Communication with Your Remote Teams

3 Power Automate Templates to Improve Communication with Your Remote Teams

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much about our lives, including how we work. 

Email and instant messages can help your teams feel connected, even when they’re physically apart. However, without in-person, real-time office communication, your staff may be starting to feel less connected. 

Is communication starting to feel like a challenge? 

In this article, we’ll see how automation can put the real-time back into your workplace communications. We’ll help you bring a sense of urgency to important emails, by building Power Automate workflows that trigger push notifications on the employee’s smartphone. 

As we head into the colder months, we’ll also use Power Automate to ensure everyone is notified if an employee is off sick, through a system of Outlook updates and automated emails. 

Feeling under the weather? Automatically send an “off sick” email to your manager

Giving staff the option to work from home has many benefits. However, it can make it difficult to keep track of your staff – is someone off sick, or just working from home? 

You can eliminate all of this uncertainty, using Power Automate. In this section, we’ll create a workflow that lets employees send an “off sick” email to their manager, and then automatically blocks out their Outlook calendar for the day. 

The employee will trigger this workflow by tapping a button in the Power Automate app (available for Android and iOS), making this a quick and convenient way to boost transparency and communication, even when staff are working remotely. 

To create this workflow: 

● Log into your Microsoft 365 account

● Select the “Power Automate” app. 

● In the left-hand menu, select “Templates.” 

● Search for the following template: “Email Office 365 colleagues you’re out sick and block your calendar.” Select this template when it appears. 

● Read the description, and if you’re happy to proceed then click “Continue.” Power Automate will now open this template for editing. 

● Click to expand the “Create event” section.

● Click to select “Time zone,” and specify your time zone. This information will be used to block out your Outlook calendar. 

Before we can use this template, we’ll need to enter a calendar ID. 

Depending on how your account is set up, Power Automate may connect to your calendar automatically. To check, click to place your cursor inside the “Calendar ID” field. All of your linked calendars will now appear in the dropdown menu, and you can make a selection from the list. 

If your Outlook calendar doesn’t appear, you can retrieve its calendar ID using Microsoft Graph: 

● In a new tab, launch the Microsoft Graph

● By default, Microsoft Graph displays some sample data, so you’ll need to sign into your account. In the left-hand menu, select “Sign into Graph Explorer.” 

● Open the blue dropdown menu and select “Get.”

● In the accompanying text field, copy/paste the following command:

https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/me/calendars

● Click “Run query.” 

● At this point, Microsoft Graph may request permission to access your Microsoft 365 calendar. After granting this permission, click “Run query” again. 

● Once the query is complete, scroll to the “Response preview” section. You should now see the information for all your Microsoft 365 calendars. 

● In the response, find the calendar that you want to use, and then copy its associated ID.

● Switch back to your Power Automate template, and paste the ID into the “Calendar ID” field. 

Your template is now ready to use! Select “Save,” and it’ll add a button to your Power Automate mobile app. To trigger this workflow, launch the app on your smartphone or tablet, and select “Buttons.”

You can now send a sick note to your manager and block out a full day in your Outlook calendar, by giving the “Email Office 365….” button a tap. 

Never miss another email from your boss, with smartphone notifications

Remote working can take the urgency out of your communications, especially since managers can’t physically walk over to their employees, when they need to ask an important question. 

When you receive a message from your remote manager or supervisor, it may help to trigger an additional notification. In this section, we’ll create a Power Automate workflow that sends a push notification to your smartphone or tablet, every time you receive an email from your manager. 

This workflow retrieves your manager’s contact information from Azure Active Directory. Before building this workflow, it’s worth checking that the information in Azure Active Directory is up-to-date, and that all employees have an assigned manager. 

● Log into Azure Active Directory

● In the left-hand menu, select “Users.” 

● Azure Active Directory will now display all your registered users. Select any user from the list. This should open their profile. 

● Select “Edit.” 

● You’ll find this person’s manager in the “Manager” field. If you need to assign them a new manager, click the accompanying “Change” link. 

● In the subsequent panel, select the manager who should be assigned to this particular user.

● Click “Select > Save.” 

Once you’re happy with the information in Azure Active Directory, you’re ready to build your workflow: 

● In the Power Automate app, select “Templates.” 

● Search for the following template: “Get a push notification when you receive an email from your boss.” Select this template when it appears. 

● Read the description, and if you’re happy to proceed then click “Create Flow.” 

And that’s it – this workflow is now up and running! Every time you receive an email from your manager, you’ll receive a push notification via the Power Automate mobile app.

Get notifications about the messages that matter to you 

We’ve just implemented a flow that notifies you every time you receive an email from your manager. However, chances are these aren’t the only important emails you’ll receive. You might be the first point of contact for a vital business partner or client, or perhaps you’re responsible for a business-critical project that’s nearing completion. 

Power Automate can monitor your incoming emails and generate a push notification every time you receive an email that you deem important. This might be an email that’s marked as high priority, a message that contains a particular keyword, or any email that’s sent from a specific email address – even if that address isn’t associated with your manager or supervisor. You can choose the criteria, which makes this a powerful workflow for monitoring the emails that matter to you. 

To create this highly-customizable workflow: 

● In the Power Automate app, select “Templates.” 

● Search for the following template: “Notification for missed conversation.” Select this template. 

● Read the description, and if you’re happy to proceed then click “Continue.” Power Automate will now open this template for editing. 

● Click to expand the “Condition” section.

You can now modify this condition, based on the notifications you want to receive. Let’s take a look at some examples. 

1. Subject line

You may want to be notified about any emails that feature a particular word or phrase in their subject line. For example, words such as “Urgent,” “Important” or “Deadline” are all good candidates for triggering a push notification. 

To create this kind of workflow: 

● Click to place your cursor inside the first field. Power Automate’s “Dynamic Content” popup should open automatically.

● Find “Subject,” and give it a click. This should add “Subject” to the first field. ● In the second field, select “Contains.” 

● In “Choose a value,” enter the word or phrase that should trigger this workflow, for example “Action required,” or “Change request.”

Now, Power Automate will check the subject line of all incoming emails, and notify you if it detects the specified word or phrase.

2. Importance level 

Outlook lets you assign an importance level to all emails. When creating your email, select the three-dotted icon, followed by “Set Importance.” 

You can then assign an importance level to this email: High, Normal, or Low. 

You may want to be notified about all emails that have a particular importance level, such as “High,” or all emails that exceed a certain importance level, such as “Normal.” 

To receive push notifications based on an email’s importance: 

● In your Power Automate template, click to place your cursor inside the first field. ● In the “Dynamic Content” popup that appears, select “Importance.” 

● In the second field, open the dropdown and select the value that you want to use. For example, you might choose “is equal to,” “is greater than,” or “is greater than or equal to.” 

● In the final field, enter the importance level that you want to use. Note that in Power Automate, importance levels are represented as numbers: 0 – Low; 1 – Normal; and 2 – High. 

Now, every time you receive an email that has the specified importance level, you’ll receive a notification on your smartphone or tablet. 

3. From a specific email address

Some senders are more important than others! In the previous section, we created a workflow that notifies you every time you receive an email from your assigned manager. However, you might have multiple managers or supervisors, or you may be the first point of contact for important customers, business partners, or suppliers. 

This workflow can generate notifications based on the email addresses that matter to you: 

● In your Power Automate template, click to place your cursor inside the first field. ● In the “Dynamic Content” popup that appears, select “From.” 

● In the second field, select “is equal to.” 

● In the third field, type the email address of your boss, manager, or anyone else who sends you particularly important or time-sensitive emails.

Every time you receive an email from this address, you’ll get a notification on your smartphone or tablet. 

Want more Power Automate flows for managing your remote workforce? Check out 3 Essential Power Automate Templates for Remote Workers, or our step-by-step guide to building an automated work hours tracker.

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