While recent years have seen more companies than ever taking advantage of the benefits remote work can provide for both employers and employees, having your whole team work remotely is likely a new experience for you. With the COVID-19 outbreak requiring many businesses to have to shift to a fully-remote work strategy seemingly overnight, employers will have to learn strategies that will help them to adapt and ensure that their company maintains productivity while working from home.
For some companies, this can seem like an impossible task, particularly if your employees frequently collaborate as a team. Fortunately, Microsoft Teams provides a variety of tools that can help your staff to maintain productivity and team spirit in the coming weeks. Here are just a few tips to help you and your staff to maintain productivity while working from home.
Share Work From Home Advice
While some of your staff may have experience working from home, many others may be telecommuting for the first time, and they may feel lost as to how they can stay productive remotely. While you likely already have a manual that helps staff to navigate the office environment, it would also be helpful for you to create a manual that helps your team to transition to working from home, including instructions on how to establish their physical and virtual workspace. This should include a guide that helps employees to access secure company servers and files such as through a VPN or virtual desktop.
To help make remote work easy for businesses, Microsoft Teams provides a virtual office that you can take with you anywhere you go. With Teams, you can easily access, and securely store, important documents, and you can quickly jump into video calls and meetings.
When providing your staff with advice on working from home, it is also important that you remind your employees that, when telecommuting, it is important to set boundaries. Remote workers often find themselves getting caught up in work, causing them to work long stretches without breaks.
When working from home, it is essential that you set time aside to unplug and take breaks, and it is also important that you “clock out” at the end of the day and check out from work. Doing so is not only important for your physical and mental health, but having time to rest also improves productivity in the long-run.
Communication is Key
Communication is also key in order to ensure productivity while your team is working remotely. The fact is that many employees rely on their managers to check in on them and act as a coach and sounding board to help them solve problems and find new ideas. This makes it important that you check in with your staff frequently.
Make sure that you coach your employees to help them adapt to this new style of work, and make sure that you help them maintain productivity where you can. It is also important that you help to facilitate communication between your staff to ensure that everyone is up-to-date on the latest updates. You can use Teams channels to help your teammates to stay connected, as this provides a place for you and your team to post updates, insights, and helpful resources throughout the day.
Take Advantage of Online Meetings
Considering the essential communication is in the workplace, it is important that you continue to foster communication and collaboration with virtual meetings. With Teams, the virtual “join” option makes it easy for you to create a conference room where participants can easily enter the conversation. Encourage participants to turn on their video, as face-to-face interaction can go a long way in helping everyone to feel connected.
Video conferencing duplicates the environment of a traditional conference room, making it easy for your company to stay productive and continue normal operations with everyone working remotely. Remember, if you do not have a dedicated office in your home, background blur can help conceal your location during video calls if you are working from a messy kitchen or bedroom.
Encourage Water Cooler Talk
What many people miss most when working from home are the casual conversations that can occur with coworkers in the halls or at the water cooler. While there is often a misconception that water cooler talk is a waste of time, it is actually essential in maintaining productivity, as well as in creating the sense of community that is essential when working as a team.
These casual workplace conversations not only help us feel connected with our coworkers, but water cooler breaks can also boost productivity by helping to relieve stress and improve concentration. These breaks can also provide vital time for team members to bounce ideas off of one another, which can be essential to the creative process.
It is then important that you encourage and facilitate a virtual water cooler that helps to keep everyone connected while they are working from home. You can do this by creating a designated place for casual conversation where people can go throughout the day and talk to one another in a dedicated group-chat.
While people might not be naturally inclined to use the group chat at first, you can get the conversation started each day with fun ice breakers. For instance, try asking the highly debated question of whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich.
Increase Productivity With Real-Time Co-Authoring
When working as a team, collaboration and brainstorming sessions can be essential in creating new ideas as well as in boosting productivity. Yet, how can you collaborate effectively when working remotely? Fortunately, Microsoft provides several useful tools to help remote teams work together.
For large brainstorming sessions, you can use the Microsoft Whiteboard app in Teams meetings to help facilitate collaboration. Whiteboard provides a canvas where team members can draw, sketch, and share ideas simultaneously during meetings, which can help you and your team to solve problems and come up with new ideas together remotely.
When the need arises for multiple team members to collaborate on a project, Microsoft’s multi-user editing makes it easy for multiple people to work on a project or document simultaneously. When you need to collaborate with a teammate, you can invite them to your project and you will each see in real-time what changes the other is making.
When combined with Microsoft’s built-in document chat, multi-user editing ensures that team members can communicate about, and work together on, the same project seamlessly, making it easier for teams to work together remotely.
Feel free to contact us to learn more about how Microsoft Teams can help you and your team to maintain productivity while working from home.