Supporting Your Remote Workforce with Microsoft Teams During the COVID-19 Outbreak
The world is facing a challenge with COVID-19 that hasn’t been seen in modern times. This is causing sudden changes in the way we live and work with the goal of reducing the risk of community spread.
Here in Australia, while some schools remain open, others are closed. Events have been cancelled and spectators are barred from AFL and NRL matches.
The uncertainty and need for social distancing that have accompanied the coronavirus outbreak has caused many companies to send their employees home to work.
Remote working has been gaining steam over the last several years. Employers have realised that workers tend to be more productive working remotely and telecommuters save them money on physical office needs.
1 in 4 Australians work away from the office at least an hour or more per day.
But now, companies have the challenge of putting into effect remote workers without the luxury of time.
Microsoft Teams addresses a big challenge when implementing a remote workforce, which is how to keep them connected.
Teams is fully integrated with Office 365 and enables fluid staff communications through a web-accessed portal.
When you’re having workers telecommute, Teams can be a lifesaver when it come to keeping everyone on the same page.
Tips for Staying Connected with Teams
Miscommunications can happen in any office, but especially if your employees are located in several remote locations. 86% of managers and employees agree that lack of communication causes workplace failures.
What Microsoft Teams does is give your team a base of communication that also acts as a central workspace hub. So, opening the Teams application becomes akin to walking into the main office where everyone else is gathered.
Here are the main collaborative features of Teams:
- Group chat, with channels for organisation
- Virtual video meetings with screensharing
- Voice calls
- File sharing
- Launch applications
- Share and edit Microsoft documents in real time via utilising the Coauthoring capabilities in Office 365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
Using Teams allow you to do things like meet virtually at the click of a button and have access to companywide or department specific communications.
The cloud-based environment means that employees can access the app from any location and with any device, computer or mobile.
Here are some of the ways you can use Teams to stay coordinated and connected if employees need to telecommute during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Communicate with Status Messages
If someone is going to lunch at the office, you may see them walk out the door. But if you’re at different locations, you may not know when they take lunch. Just that one disconnect could cause you to get frustrated when they don’t answer your call.
Teams allows you to communicate your status via status messages. For example, an employee could set a message to say, “I’m at lunch for 45 minutes, I’ll be back at 1:00 p.m.” or “I’m in a video conference with a client for the next 2 hours.”
This feature keeps everyone updated on their teammates’ availability and eliminates a key area of confusion that can come when workers telecommute.
Keep Communications Organised
You can create chat channels in Teams based upon any structure that you like. For example, you might have Office 365 Groups/Teams for each department (accounting, marketing, etc.). You may also choose to use channels for specific clients or projects.
With each Office 365 Group/Team/channel, you can invite the appropriate users. So, only employees that need access to that channel’s files and communications can join.
You can also have “everyone” channels for companywide communications. This structure helps you keep your “departments” siloed in the same way you do when they’re in the office.
Use Teams to Meet with Clients
You don’t have to lose time on a project if you can’t meet with your clients in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can invite them as a guest user to Teams and set up client-specific chat channels that allow you to connect by video conference, messaging, or voice call.
Keep All Communications Stored in One Place
What happens if your employees are all using email to communicate while working remotely? You may lose files or important information because it’s stored on individual employee devices.
One of the biggest advantages to using Teams is that all your company communications – shared files, chats, calls – all stay within the Teams interface.
This not only ensures you have access to important data and communications it also makes conversations easily searchable if you need to find a specific detail fast.
Notifications Let You Now When You’re Needed
Employees can tend to feel isolated when they work remotely. Teams helps to alleviate that feeling. For example, if an employee has a comment to make to a coworker, they might feel it’s not important enough to call them from their mobile phone. But Teams allows them to quickly message a coworker and an alert will ping the recipient.
Teams uses @mentions so you can virtually tap a colleague on the shoulder. Alerts can also be used to prioritise communications so workers aren’t constantly interrupted by non-urgent messages.
You can choose to receive a banner, email, or no alert at all for mentions and messages that meet specific criteria.
Get Help Implementing Microsoft Teams for Your Office
Whether you’re working remotely or all in the same building, Teams is a powerful collaboration tool. It streamlines communications and keeps your employees on the same page.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Call +61 2 9161 7171 or reach out online.