As the country continues to work remotely, we’ve heard a lot about the benefits – no commute, a more comfortable environment, and pets for company. For many, however, the transition to home working has been difficult and daunting. When you’re not used to working outside of the office, it can be hard to motivate yourself or keep connected team members. Many also suffer from loneliness, used to sharing coffee breaks with their co-workers.
Thankfully, modern tools like Microsoft Teams can make remote work much more manageable. Though it works excellently as a workplace chat app, it also has features in place to help you stay organised, share work, and keep on top of your schedule.
Here are a few ways you can take full advantage of Teams:
1. Stay in touch on the go
Though your commute might just be a few steps when working from home, there may be times when you have to run to the post office or otherwise be away from the desk. The Teams mobile app lets you chat with colleagues, engage in video or audio meetings, or edit documents from any location.
This a blessing for those wanting to work from a tablet on the sofa, but it can also raise challenges when it comes to work-life balance. Though you can stay tuned in at any time of the day, it’s often a good idea to take a step back on your breaks and after work hours. For this purpose, Teams has ‘away’ and ‘unavailable’ statuses, and you can set quiet hours.
As mentioned, one of the biggest challenges of the lockdowns and the remote working is the feeling of isolation that accompanies. Though nothing will fully replace the office environment, Teams can get you closer with the ability to reach out for one-on-one text chats or calls.Early research suggests that the pandemic has increased mental distress in employees. Checking in one on one with your colleagues through Teams can give you a safe space to vent or chat personally and ultimately lead to a happier virtual workforce.
2. Stay organised in your channel
When there’s a lot going on at home, and no co-workers sitting beside you to remind you about particular tasks, it can be difficult to stay organised. Teams provides tools to separate employees into various channels for different departments and functions. Hide teams or channels you aren’t actively participating in to reduce clutter and focus on your role.
Within your channels, you can notify team members of upcoming tasks, while also maintaining an overview of your files. It’s worth agreeing on a universal file-naming scheme and folder structure to aid in this. Companies can additionally make use of third-party integrations like Todoist, which work seamlessly with Teams, so users can add messages or files directly to their lists.
3. Share and co-edit your work
When it comes to collaboration, Microsoft Teams has tools to emulate the office experience. Full integration with Office 365 allows you to share documents in chat to get real-time edits and proofreading. Open your conversation panel while in edit view to discuss changes as they’re made and ask for clarification where needed.
Whether it’s PowerPoint, Excel, or Word, you’ll see colleagues as coloured flags while they make live edits. Teams also automatically creates a version history in the background so you can roll back over accidental changes as well as see how a piece of work has evolved.
4. Make your meetings more productive
Digital meetings are new ground for many, but with the right software they can quickly become even more effective than physical ones.
Before a meeting starts, share an agenda. Prepare context from previous meetings that have been housed in Teams and share documents ahead of time. Reach out to team members to ensure they can make it and make use of the recording feature for those who can’t.
While discussing, write in the chat if you have questions or want to speak, so attendees can grab attention without interrupting the flow. Make it clear that you expect the same kind of etiquette as in-person meetings while remembering to offer short breaks to reset attention spans.
5. Lighten up your workday
It can be easy to get caught up in productivity optimisations when remote working. Often, however, the best thing you can do for efficiency is to reduce stress and create a light-hearted environment.
Use GIFs, likes, and custom backgrounds to keep the conversation fun. Run live events to replace work outings. Set up polls in meetings to create a sense of interactivity. You may not be able to crack jokes in-person, but you can still foster a sense of community in your online workplace.