Almost overnight, our work lives have been dramatically altered, with businesses announcing mandatory telecommuting during COVID-19. It has been amazing to see the corporate leadership surrounding this and people coming together to fight the pandemic, so the work-life disruption is a small price to pay. While those of us able to work from home are certainly blessed to have that option, it has led to new realities.
For those who don’t have the luxury of a home office, a makeshift workstation in their living rooms or dining rooms have had to suffice. Teams are now navigating new business concerns such as how to stay connected with team members and also how to collaborate effectively while working from various locations. In this article, I’m sharing my tips on how to address these concerns with one of my favorite tools: Microsoft Teams.
1. Keep Conversations Going
When we’re not sitting in the same space as our team and we have a question, our first instinct is to email. However, employees have a difficult time keeping up with emails as it is. With Teams, you can help reduce the number of emails by messaging your team members individually or through a team channel (chat room). This will not only help reduce the number of emails, but it’ll also get questions resolved quicker than sitting around and waiting for an email response.
To help maintain company culture, you can create channels specifically for kudos, where employees can leave a shout-out for another employee. Or you can create one for employees to share pictures of their pets. These kinds of channels can help brighten up your team’s day during a stressful time like this.
2. Video Calls
One of the first things we miss while in a virtual working world is the face-to-face interaction with our teams. When you’re having team meetings, turn them into video calls to make it feel like everyone on the team is actually sitting in the same room.
One of my favorite Teams features is the ability to blur backgrounds or add a custom background during video calls. I never expected to turn the corner of my living room into my office, so taking calls from my “home office” can be challenging with having a toddler at home who is constantly running around in the background.
3. Stay Connected Anywhere
For parents who have kids running around the house like mine or those who have roommates who are also working remotely, these employees can’t be tied to their workstation all day. Sometimes they need their own space for a call about a confidential work project or maybe they need to stretch their legs and go for a walk.
Teams can be accessed across all your devices, from laptops to tablets to smartphones. This allows your employees to stay connected, whether they’re taking care of their kids or are out walking their dog.
4. Collaborate Without Email
Emails get buried in inboxes, which means important files, docs, or presentations can easily get lost. Teams can be used to help improve collaboration since Word docs, PowerPoint files, and Excel files can be accessed, shared, and edited in real-time in Teams.
5. Have Some Fun
Employees are going through a stressful time as they learn to adapt to this new normal. Help alleviate some of that stress by bringing fun into work. Teams has a Bots Gallery with about 24 bots that range from automated reports or fun polls. These fun distractions will help boost your team’s morale and keep team members connected with one another.
As we all navigate this new working world, we have to continue to stay connected with team members while allowing them the flexibility to take care of their household and themselves.