Lockdown restrictions are easing, and different sectors of the economy are set to reopen over the coming weeks.
However, many businesses are reluctant to go back to “normal”, as various research shows that the majority of workers are anxious at the thought of returning to their previous working hours and office environments.
What’s more, there is concern that doing so will have a negative impact on their mental health and productivity and as a result many business leaders have announced that their teams will continue to work from home for the time being.
While working remotely for the foreseeable future will allay some very important public health concerns, there are downsides which have to be carefully addressed. Using the right technology and tools to facilitate remote working and collaboration between individuals and teams in a business, or with clients and suppliers can make all the difference when it comes to whether you make a success of this “new normal” or not.
One tool I would highly recommend for collaboration is Microsoft Teams. The service was launched in 2017 and has grown in popularity in the last three years. Since the start of the pandemic in particular, the count of daily active users has hit a record 75 million.
If you don’t use Microsoft Teams already, here are some of the reasons why I think it is the best tool for you to use when working remotely with your clients, partners and suppliers, and also internally within your business:
With Microsoft Teams, you have the ability to host and attend webinars and online meetings.
You can have a one-to-one meeting with someone else, or a video conference with as many as 10,000 people!*
They could be your colleagues, or people from other businesses and organisations.
Regardless of the number of participants you’ll get to see and hear everyone clearly, and also have the option to record it so anyone who misses it can watch the replay.
*Depending on your price plan.
While we never appreciated the significance of water cooler conversations, the lack of them since the start of the pandemic is having a detrimental effect on morale and driving an increase in isolation, as well as affecting how bonds are developed and trust is built among colleagues.
While there is no direct replacement for that kind of physical and social interaction, I’d argue that the chat function within Microsoft Teams is as close as you can get to that informal manner of communication.
The chat function works for those times when you need to send a quick message, and do not require the audit trail that email provides. You can ask your colleagues about their weekends, a quick question about a piece of work, or when they are available to talk, for example. All without leaving the tool.
You can make audio calls from within the tool, either by clicking on a saved contact or typing in a phone number.
So if you decide not to use or enable video, you can speak to your teams using the call function.
Collaborate on projects and joint pieces of work. Multiple people can work on documents, without worrying about version control or corruption.
Privacy & Security
As the use of the internet and collaboration tools has risen during the pandemic, it is no surprise that cybersecurity issues have risen as well. For example, the video communication and chat tool Zoom has had a number of well-publicised incidents highlighting its vulnerabilities. While the company quickly sought to address these and continues to do so, in many ways the damage had already been done as many organisations warned their teams off using the tool, and declared Microsoft Teams to be their preferred tool instead.
For Teams, Microsoft recommends a number of best practices to ensure that you are able to work efficiently and safely. These include:
Using two-factor authentication; giving your team members the correct level of access they need to complete their tasks and no more; and conducting careful assessments of what features are required (and enabled) for people outside your organisation.
Their Customer Base
Microsoft Teams is used by organisations as diverse as Accenture, the Metropolitan Police, schools, universities, hospital networks and the NFL.
But it isn’t just for large organisations. Smaller businesses – even if you only have one employee – can also make the most of the functionality. You wouldn’t be the only one: thousands of small businesses have recently migrated to the tool, and Microsoft has practical guidance to support small businesses that are having to adapt to working remotely.
New To Teams?
If you’re new to Microsoft Teams and need to get your head around it quickly, I’m running a workshop on Friday 10 July which will help you hit the ground running. I’ll give you an overview of the tool and how it works, explain how to set it up, manage communication and collaborate with your clients and teams.
It’s on sale now, so secure your place today. Click here to book.