The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to accelerate their plans of allowing their workforce to telecommute or work from home. In fact, the Brookings Institution reports that up to half of American workers are currently working from home, which is more than double the population who worked from home in 2017-18.
Businesses are experiencing some growing pains, such as feeling the discomfort of emailing documents or communication chains back and forth with a remote team. They are asking how they can streamline their business communications to ensure all team members are on the same page, as well as make virtual collaboration an enjoyable experience.
As businesses scramble to provide options for the health and safety of their employees, Microsoft Teams is offering solutions that will ease the transition and help increase employee productivity while they work from home. Microsoft Teams is a software platform that allows users to communicate and collaborate in real-time. In this time of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is quickly becoming one of the most popular platforms for conducting business.
It might be great to know the features of Microsoft Teams, but how do you apply them to your business? Right now, your employees who are working from home due to COVID-19 might be ramping up their email traffic and flooding everyone’s inbox with random communications or redundant ideas. This makes everyone feel like they are wasting their time, which may cause them to essentially disengage from responding or even reading the email chains.
1. Centralized Communication
One of the struggles that some businesses have encountered when transitioning to a remote work environment is that some employees are wondering if they are considered an ‘essential worker’ and if their job has value. A way that business leaders can motivate their employees and allow their team members to feel like they are being heard is to provide a platform that gives team member interactions and alerts that specifically relate to them.
Microsoft Teams allows you to add any users necessarily, either for general communication or specific projects, using break out rooms. This flexibility lets businesses cut down the email traffic as well as provides a place for all users to share ideas or notices, keeping everyone up to date. Microsoft Teams gives businesses the chance to build small environments where everyone can be seen and heard.
2. Real-time Messaging and Video conferencing
Microsoft Teams has a chat feature that allows team members to communicate in real-time. This feature gives team members the opportunity to focus on a specific task while building employee relations. Real-time communication permits its users to work promptly, reducing idle time and increasing productivity.
Microsoft Teams video conferencing feature gives you the capability of conferencing with up to 250 people. The video conferencing feature is not limited by data or time; it is unlimited, so you can use it as much as business demands. This is the face-to-face interaction that some employees crave to bounce ideas, answer any questions in a timely manner, or clarify upcoming projects or deadlines.
Recently, Microsoft Teams added the Together Mode feature that displays all video conferencing attendees in the same space, making it look like all team members are sitting in an auditorium setting. When Together Mode is activated, you don’t have the distractions of what is behind the individual. It also acts like all team members are sharing the same space, which can increase employee morale.
3. File Sharing
Microsoft Teams allows team members to access shared files in the Files tab within the Teams platform. Any document that has been uploaded to the Files tab can be accessed anywhere by users who have permissions within the team. When a file has been uploaded, you don’t have to worry if your employees have the most up-to-date copy or if they will lose the file in their email; it is available for access whenever they need it in an easily identifiable layout.
The file-sharing feature puts a stamp on who has made the last changes to the file, which increases the accountability of the team members. As a business leader, this could be an opportunity to determine which team members carry the load of projects.
4. Office Phone Connectivity
Some businesses spend fortunes on their office phone service. Microsoft Teams allows the team members to use their office phone. Simply link your office phone number to your Teams account to have calls that come into the office’s lines redirected to a mobile phone or computer. This feature saves time and money for businesses because you are using a service that you are already paying for, keeping information on websites and media channels current, and saving the privacy of your employees by not releasing personal phone numbers to clients or customers.
Microsoft Teams is a platform that can be easily added to existing Microsoft licenses, keeping the cost of integrating it and rolling it out to a minimum. Also, because Teams is made by Microsoft, the time for users to become familiar with the platform is slight, saving a business time and money while making all the necessary changes to accommodate those who are working from home.
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