Microsoft Teams: Collaboration and Teamwork
For the past couple of years, numerous organisations across many industries have already allowed their employees to work from anywhere. But when coronavirus snowballed into a global pandemic, the number went up and now, almost 88% of all companies worldwide have decided to move their business operations from busy workplaces to remote home offices. This massive shift in the economy’s landscape made way to the rise in popularity of various collaboration tools that are available in the market. And one of the most widely used tools that a lot of companies utilize these days to foster seamless project management is Microsoft Teams.
One of the major concerns that was brought up when the global economy went virtual was the disruption of effective communication. And that concern wasn’t without basis. Communicating, even when we were still reporting to shared offices and having meetings in person, has always been tricky. It is easy to misinterpret what the other person means despite the presence of tone and body language. And now, on top of adjusting to each other’s personalities and nuances, we also must adapt to how things changed so quickly and learn to use unfamiliar tools fast. Let’s look at how Microsoft Teams has been helping more than 13 million people easily connect with each other and efficiently navigate the remote work setup.
Employees who choose to work from anywhere face the difficult challenge of being left out and unheard during team meetings and huddles. Most of the time, they become passive observers that only show up online just for the sake of attending. However, Microsoft Teams has found a way to make sure that every team member remains engaged throughout the entire duration of the meeting, gets included in the discussion, and make them feel like they’re working with their teammates in the same room.
Most video collaboration tools include a virtual whiteboard where participants can share their screen to present and share ideas. Microsoft Teams has that, but also understands that using a traditional whiteboard is a lot more comforting because it is tangible and familiar and gives us better control of how we organise things. This is what the Content Camera feature is all about. It gives you the freedom to use a traditional whiteboard without worrying that other participants won’t see it. It has a dedicated camera that detects, crops, and frames your whiteboard. On top of that, it ensures that all participants are immersed in the presentation because participants will see right through the presenter even when they move in front of the whiteboard.
Chatting has been the most convenient and efficient way of communicating with family and friends, but it has also become the medium of choice for fellow colleagues and teammates who work together around key projects. Because we’re all working remotely, it can be quite challenging to work around different schedules and situations. Most of the time, when something urgent happens, what we would do is send our teammate a message and keep sending them messages to alert them of what happened, and hope and pray that we get their attention if we keep doing so. At times, this does work. But it also requires you to check back on the message you sent from time to time. Which keeps you from focusing on your task at hand and wastes precious time you could’ve used for more productive stuff.
With Microsoft Teams’ priority notification feature, all you need to do is send one message as a priority message, and the system will notify your recipient every two minutes, for up to 20 minutes, to ensure you get the response that you need when you need it. Microsoft Teams will do the reminding for you so you can focus on your work and make sure that anytime something unexpected happens, you and your team will always be on top of everything.
Version Control & Document Co-authoring
Even before COVID-19 happened, working on the same files with various people has always been a challenge. The most common issue that is present in almost every organisation is having numerous versions of similar-but-not-quite-the-same files. This is what happens when team members save their own version of the previous file to avoid overwriting the original content. This manual versioning has proved to make things a lot more challenging than it already is when files are being shared on online platforms with teammates who are working remotely.
Microsoft Teams understands the pain of managing numerous files and has included a feature called Version Control. This feature helps you track and manage information within a document and shows you what changes have been made and by whom. Aside from just tracking a document’s history, Version Control also allows you to view previous versions without overwriting the current one, and lets you restore them in case someone makes a mistake, or the latest file gets corrupted. Microsoft Teams has also introduced Document Co-authoring. This allows authors of the same document to check out a file to avoid having more than one editor make changes at the same time. After editing, the editor just needs to check in and the document will again be available for editing to the other authors.
Creating and managing a schedule that works for your team members and is beneficial to the business has always been a daunting task. It involves careful planning to make sure that all tasks are delegated well, and every team member knows what needs to be done and when they’re needed. Sounds simple but is a complex task if you’re the one creating the schedule. This has always been challenging even when we still had one shift, and everyone is working within the same space. Now that employees have been working remotely, it has become even more complicated.
Shifts is Microsoft Team’s efficient answer to all this. Shifts is a schedule management tool that provides a comprehensive yet user-friendly platform for creating, updating, and managing your team’s schedules. You will get a dedicated calendar where you can create shifts for different teams that consist of different team members. You can build multiple groups for employees working on different things or working on different shifts. You can also see everything from the teammates clock in, clock out, and breaks, to specific activities that need to be taken note of during the day. You also can leave reminders and important notes so employees can start working on their tasks even when you’re not online. This is also where you review requests for time offs, shift swaps and other offers. Once the schedule is final, you can share it with your team to keep everyone looped in.
A lot of business owners think that using online chat applications is enough to communicate with employees, clients, and customers. The thing with messaging platforms is that they’re designed for family and friends and loved ones. They weren’t meant to be used as a tool for business. At first, these messaging platforms may seem like they’re doing a good job at connecting you with people, but soon enough, many will realize that they don’t provide your business an efficient and organized way of keeping in touch with your market.
This is where Microsoft Teams Phone System technology plays an important role. This feature gives you the full capabilities of Private Branch Exchange (PBX) minus the huge amount of expense that comes with purchasing and maintaining one. Aside from saving on costs, you can also save time by going digital with VoIP (voice over internet protocol). This integrates your internet connection with Microsoft Teams, and lets you make and receive better-quality calls, so you don’t have to be tied to your desk just to make sure that you don’t miss important messages. Aside from that, you also get efficient features such as cloud auto attendants, call queues, voicemail, music on hold, call forwarding, group call, call part and retrieve, video calling, and many more!
Groups & Meetings with Guests
Collaborating has been an ongoing challenge that a lot of small businesses face especially now that we don’t get to always meet up to talk about projects in person. It’s just a good thing that various project management tools are now available to help us work in the cloud with ease. All we need to do is pick one of the countless tools online, make everyone install the same application, and work together within it. However, it is an entirely different altogether when the expertise of a person outside your organisation is needed to make your project successful. Now you’d have to think how to let that person in and make sure that they have access to the key people and resources that the whole group uses. I mean, who would want to migrate an entire team for just one person?
This is a problem that Microsoft Teams has solved for millions of its users. With Microsoft Teams, you can add guests in your groups, and they will have access to whatever they need for your projects. And they don’t need to have the application to get started. This means that as soon as you have the guest on board, everyone in the group can start working together. This feature isn’t only limited to group chats and file sharing. This is also available for video calls and meetings. Once you send an invite to someone outside your organisation, they will be able to join the meeting seamlessly even without the application installed on their devices. You also have full control over the settings to ensure you that your meeting is organised and secured.
Managing remote employees has always been one of the biggest challenges leaders have had to deal with because of the isolating nature of that setup. But at least, people could still go and hang out with family, friends, and colleagues after prolonged hours of working alone. But after the COVID-19 outbreak, connecting with team members has become much more difficult due to lockdowns, quarantines, and isolations. All this has taken a toll on our emotional and mental health and has made employees feel even more disconnected and lonely.
Microsoft Teams doesn’t just help teams work efficiently. It also helps us engage and show our appreciate to our colleagues by using Praise. This is beyond using simple emojis to thank or congratulate an employee. Praise is the new way of showing appreciation and encouragement to team members. You can send a Praise privately via one-on-one chat or post it to a channel for the entire team to see. Also, if you feel like the built-in badges can’t quite capture what you want to say, you can go ahead and create your own badge! You also get the option to add personalized messages to keep every team member motivated.
Is Microsoft Teams the right choice?
Carefully analyzing and weighing your options are some of the best practices of a successful business owner. And the fact that you’re here reading this right now means that you have been doing so, and that you’re on the verge of making a very important decision that can transform how your business operates. Now, if you’re someone who truly values flexible and efficient collaboration, on-the-go communication, and smart solutions, then Microsoft Teams is the one for you.
For more information about this all-in-one tool, or if there are things you need clarifications for, don’t hesitate to contact us. Looking forward to helping you build a safe, secure and smart environment to help your business grow.