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Get more from remote working with Microsoft Teams | Part 2

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As we explored in the previous blog in the series, remote working has increased dramatically over the last few years. This is partially due to Covid-19 but was, in any event, expected to rise with the evolution of technology.

With this in mind, the challenge to business owners all over the globe is trying to mirror levels of communication, collaboration, and productivity that were achieved in the workplace into a remote working situation.

We have already explored three of the most well-known and arguably best features Teams has to offer. Now let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known but equally beneficial features of Microsoft Teams.

‘Meetings’

Meetings are of the utmost importance within businesses of every size. The opportunity they give you to converse with your employees on a more personal level is often unachievable at any other point in the workday without the distraction of your daily tasks constantly interrupting. These conversations give everyone an opportunity to voice their opinion - your employees feel their ideas and thoughts are valued and listened to and that, in itself, is so important for ensuring your team feel equal and work together effectively.

The problem with meetings is the effort involved with organizing them - it can be very difficult to arrange a meeting, especially when deciding on a date and time that everyone is available to attend. Often organizing the meeting causes more issues than the meeting itself! It is a challenge no matter the size of your company.

Since the transition to a remote work setting, many businesses have found it difficult to keep their employees familiar with company ethos, and also maintain a positive attitude at the forefront of their minds while they are not in the normal work setting.

Meetings makes this possible. Let’s take a look at how Meetings works and find out why it is unique.

 

Meetings – how to

  1. Click the calendar tab.

Once having clicked the calendar tab you can access the easy-to-use scheduling assistant.
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  1. Select ‘new meeting’ (located below your user icon in the top right).

You will then be presented with a form into which you can enter all your meeting requirements. Enter the names of those you wish to attend, choose a start and end time, link the meeting to a channel of your choice, and set the meeting to recur if you wish.

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Admittedly nothing seems that different to this point, but the following feature makes Meetings stand out from the competition.

Once having entered the name(s) of participants to the meeting, you are presented with suggested times (just below the date and time section of the form). Teams cross-references the schedules of all the selected participants and offers times to suit everyone, saving you potentially hours of calls and emails trying to get everyone you need available at the same time.

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There is even a chat feature in Meetings - let’s take a closer look at that now.

‘In – Meeting’ chat

When in a meeting you may need to communicate with another participant of the meeting. In-meeting instant messaging makes this possible without interrupting the speaker. To bring up chat, select ‘show conversation’ from the menu at the top right.

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Or perhaps you want to ask a question to the speaker without interrupting - the ‘Raise your hand’ feature makes this possible.

Raise your hand.

Select the hand icon from the menu of actions, click ‘this action’, then * (star). This allows you to ‘raise your hand’ - drawing attention to the fact that you have a question.

This action will then appear as a notification in the ‘show participants’ tab.  Any attendee who raises their hand will have an icon displayed beside their name.

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There are many reasons why remote working may be a challenge for your particular organization. The problems are never exactly the same across the board but are similar. Let’s now explore a tool that allows your employees to review their own written work to an exceptional standard whilst working alone.

Any and every work environment requires a predetermined level of professionalism assigned to each task undertaken, and this standard must not drop as a consequence of the change to a remote work setting.

The correct grammar and formality in all written text is of the utmost importance as it projects professionalism and quality of work. For instance, there is no point in spending money and resources on your website if the content that occupies it is not even grammatically correct as this would give the completely wrong impression to anyone reading it. Microsoft now offer a new way of ensuring your text is as good as it can be.

Introducing ‘F7’.

 

F7

By F7 I am referring to the function keys along the top of your keyboard.

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The ‘F’ stands for function. In basic terms, a function key’s purpose is as a key on a computer or terminal keyboard that can be programmed to perform a command within a certain application program, in turn performing an action.

F7 is a much better version of its predecessor, guaranteeing that, no matter the quality of the content you have written, it will not be let down by poor spelling, punctuation, or grammar. It allows you to make ‘corrections’ and ‘refinements’ as and where they are needed. It also offers up ‘suggestions’ (to choose whether you want to use them or not) - for example, you would be advised to change ‘won’t’ to ‘will not’. This facility gives your team the ability to use grammar to appear that little bit more formal (or informal), a method which is greatly appreciated by certain customers.

Let’s look at how to use F7.

F7 – how to

There are two ways of using the F7 tool. Either:

  • Press the F7 key before you start writing.

This will prompt the F7 editor to appear to the right of your screen, offering you changes as you proceed through the document. Or:

  • Press the F7 key when you have finished writing.

This will also prompt the editor to appear to the right of the screen but immediately displays the suggestions it recommends over the entire document. This option is more popular as it allows you to write freely without the distraction of the editor updating every time you pause.

You then make your way down the list of suggestions and decide whether you want to use them or not.

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The document above – according to Microsoft - recommends I review my grammar for three potential mistakes (my conciseness once and formality twice). Let’s look at how those recommendations are presented.

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As you can see, at the very top of the editor it tells you how many recommended changes to grammar remain, what the suggestion is, and the reason it is making the recommendations according to Collins's dictionary standards. If you choose to ignore it, it even says ‘Don’t check for this issue again’ - useful when you are including a name or place that isn’t recognised by the dictionary.

This tool can be very effective for remote working teams that usually have their work proofed often. In this way you can be sure that your employees are still producing and releasing work that is of an exceptional standard as a piece of writing (even if the actual content needs further improvement).

Organization is something we all need to be able to do, both in work and when working remotely. Some of us need to be constantly reminded to do things by a colleague, or perhaps need that little nudge from the boss to keep them organized, but when working remotely these helping hands won’t be as readily available as when in the office setting.

Or perhaps you are the one doing the nudging and are concerned how your employees/colleagues are going to achieve their work without you there to support them. Microsoft Teams also has a solution to these concerns; introducing ‘Lists’.

 

Lists

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Lists (as the name suggests) allows you to create lists to organize your information. You can also share lists and collaborate on those lists with others.

Lists can be used for a multitude of purposes – most frequently an issue, inventory, or asset tracker. Again, I agree it sounds similar to applications like Microsoft Planner and the To-do app as they also track issues and teamwork. You can use Lists to track team and solo tasks, but ‘Microsoft Planner’ and ‘To-do’ specialize in this and they have views that are specifically catered for those uses whilst Lists does not. Lists, however, has much broader applications, as explored.

Lists within Teams is essentially an evolution of the original SharePoint lists.

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As part of this evolution, we will see many new features capable of changing work practices exponentially.

One of the new features of this evolution of SharePoint lists is the introduction of the Microsoft Lists app in Office/365 which will aggregate all the lists you have and store them all in the same place. No more hunting around and remembering what SharePoint site has the list you are trying to access - this will be a one-stop-shop to see and create new lists.

Microsoft Lists is also now available as a mobile app, where you can author, create, and edit new lists all on the app. It also offers prebuilt templates for event and asset management, tasks, and much more.

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Teams has many different features that – if used correctly – have the power to improve the way your team works together both in office and when working remotely. Take some time exploring Microsoft Teams and its features; with all of the tools we have discussed throughout this blog series you are in good stead to not only survive a transition into remote working but thrive, and just possibly exceed the levels of work achieved on-premise. I guarantee that the possibilities are endless if you utilize the platform to its full potential and not just use what is presented at face value.

 

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 however small the business is. We can recommend and provide the tools needed to facilitate your business’ operations being safely conducted while your employees are working remotely. This transition is not temporary - the world of work is going more remote - but is your business ready to make the change? Book a free consultation call today and find out what changes you can make to improve your systems.

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