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Get more from remote working with Microsoft Teams

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The world has changed rapidly over recent years - the increase in technological presence, both in the workplace and at home, has been astronomical. According to a 2020 survey, the average American has access to more than ten connected devices in their household. ¹ This reliance in our home lives is mirrored in the workplace too.

With our workplaces being predominantly technologically based, it is now possible for a variety of businesses to adopt a remote working approach. Although the transition has been a gradual one in the past, recently – with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic – businesses were forced to make the transition practically overnight.

This rapid change has been forced on business procedures worldwide, pressuring owners to adopt new workflow methods to achieve satisfactory levels of productivity to ensure their continued success and, ultimately, survival.

Remote working was the only choice for many firms, with this being the only way of mirroring - or at least partially mirroring - the capacity achieved pre-lockdown. However, it has been found that it can, in some ways, be more efficient and productive than the normal work setting. Office expenditure can drop considerably when remote working tools are used correctly.

Business owners are, however, still having concerns with the transition to remote working and are asking questions such as, “Can I achieve the same levels of collaboration, communication, and productivity at home as when in the office?” The answer is a simple one - yes you can. We will explore how to achieve this throughout the blog series.

Let’s take a look at ‘Microsoft Teams’, a tool that can be used for remote or on-premise working.

 

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is THE best, chat-based, communication, collaboration, and productivity platform on the planet! Since its conception and release in 2017 it has amassed a daily average user count of 115 million people - a staggering number that easily dwarfs other apps of the same type. Microsoft Teams offers document sharing, online meetings, chat features, and organizational tools all in one easy-to-use place.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the more popular tools that Microsoft Teams has to offer that will assist you in improving your remote working team.

‘Chat’

Communication is what keeps your business thriving, both work-related and otherwise. A good level of communication between yourself and your employees - be it on-premise or when working from home - is essential, because without it your team will end up segregated, uncertain of what you are trying to achieve, and mistakes will inevitably be made.

Before Chat in Teams there was no place to have a conversation on a professional and casual level whilst simultaneously securely sending documents and files. An already brilliant feature has been accentuated by the conversion for many to a remote working team. Due to communication being so difficult when working remotely, it is easy to feel segregated from the rest of the team and for your employees to lose their drive if a level of communication is not sustained.

Let’s take a look at what makes the Chat experience in Teams unique.

A particularly good feature that is made available by Chat is the ability to attach files directly from OneDrive, enabling the recipient to amend the document easily. Considering that not all of us are tech wizards, giving your employees that aren’t as confident the ability to chat with their colleagues in the same place as they share important documents involves less technical prowess and results in them feeling more comfortable about the new way of working. Let’s take a look at how to send files in the Chat feature in Teams.

Chat – how to

  1. Find the Chat option in the top left of the home page and click on it.
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  1. Select your recipient, then find and click the paperclip below the message box.
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You will then be presented with two options - either click ‘OneDrive’ or ‘Upload from my computer’ depending on where the file is.

  1. Select and click, and you are underway.
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Like communication, collaboration is a lynchpin of every organization’s success. It ensures that the best, most productive ideas make their way from being just that – an idea – to a reality.

Consistent levels of collaboration are very difficult to achieve, as some teams rely upon input from a variety of sources to complete their job to the best of their ability and many business owners are concerned that this could be an issue that even technology cannot overcome. They were wrong.

Introducing ‘Co-Authoring’ in Microsoft Teams.

 

Co-Authoring

Co-Authoring can assist you in achieving advanced levels of collaboration both in office and when working remotely.

Before Co-Authoring, if multiple members of your team were to be involved in composing a single document multiple copies would need to be created, saved, and sent around via email to all members. This created a chaotic work environment and made it easy to misplace the most up-to date version of the document. This method is very unnecessarily time consuming, laborious, and potentially problematic.

Co-Authoring can quickly become one of the most important tools in your repertoire.

Co-Authoring allows your team to work together through technology. All of the team can access documents and PowerPoint slides simultaneously and can communicate within a chat feature incorporated into the Co-Authoring feature.

Co-Authoring – How to

  1. Open a document of your choice in Microsoft Word as normal.

Note - You then need to put the document into the Cloud to allow co-authoring to be possible. To do this go to the top right of your screen and click ‘Share’.
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  1. Once having clicked Share an option appears in the centre of your screen to upload to OneDrive.
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  1. Your document will then be uploaded for you. Now it is in OneDrive you can share the document with others.
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  1. You can apply controls or restrictions in this section to deny or allow entry to the document with the use of passwords and two factor authentications. You decide who can see and edit the document.
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You and your colleagues are now able to co-author to your hearts’ content, easily manoeuvring around your documents and files. When co-authoring you have the document open simultaneously. At the top of the document, you can see who is co-authoring with you, what part of the document they are working on by locating their cursor, and their name is displayed above so you can see who it is (particularly useful when you have multiple co-authors).
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If used correctly, Co-Authoring can assist you in achieving advanced levels of collaboration whether your team are in the same room or spread across the globe.

It is all well and good to attempt to mirror your work setting when working remotely - you can keep communication and collaboration levels high - but if your employees don’t – or can’t – use their time productively then all of these tools in your arsenal are pointless.

‘Power Automate’ ensures productivity at every turn.

 

Power Automate

Automation is the modern-day key to productivity. Yes, there are other ways to ensure productivity but, as a technical solution, nothing comes close to automation or, in this case, Power Automate.

Power Automate means less time spent on monotonous activities and more time being productive. It does this by automating the mundane and leaving your employees free of time-wasting tasks which are beneath their skill setting. Understandably, this can be hard sometimes to wrap your head round, so let’s take a look at an example.

Example - your firm goes through a period of exponential growth, and word is spreading that your business is the place to go. In the modern world people not only talk about your organization face to face but they reach out on twitter, in the process inundating you with hundreds of tweets in a single night. Power Automate makes it possible to set up a flow that follows all of those tweets, sends them a reply, and adds them to a spreadsheet that gets emailed to you for your approval. It then inserts their contact details into your sales channel.

Power Automate also makes it possible for you to manage approvals on the go on your phone, by email, or on the web. This streamlined approval process works with data in SharePoint, Microsoft 365, Twitter, and over 100 other services.


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Now let’s find out how it works.

Power Automate – How it works.

The concept of business process automation is working from an initial trigger action, be that prescheduled or because of a prior human action. A series of pre-scripted steps will then take place. To ensure you have some control you can define your own parameters from which the automation will act.


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Using the example from earlier, the tweets could have taken an important, skilled member of your team away from the job they were employed to do – perhaps even being one of the reasons for the growth in the first place – and put them on the ‘trained monkey’ task of liking and following twitter interests. Power Automate allows your staff to stay productive by handing the mundane to technology.

In the next and last blog in the series we will explore some of the lesser-known tools in Microsoft Teams’ arsenal, how to use them, and how they can assist you and your team when working remotely.

 

Improving the ways you work remotely - SRS

Since 1996 we have prided ourselves in providing professional IT support for businesses in and around Salinas, California. We strive to give our clients Enterprise-level services and solutions at prices that work for small businesses. We can recommend and provide the tools needed to facilitate your business’ operations being safely conducted while your employees are working remotely. This transition may not be temporary, but with the world of work going remote, is your business ready to make the change? Book a free consultation call today and find out what changes you can make to your systems.

 

¹ https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107206/average-number-of-connected-devices-us-house/

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