MICROSOFT TEAMS – CHAT IN THE OFFICE WHILE YOU WORK FROM HOME

Social distancing may have halted workplace chats by the coffee machine but you can still enjoy conversation with colleagues. Work from home with Microsoft Teams.

MICROSOFT TEAMS – OFFICE CHAT, WORKING FROM HOME

Business software like Microsoft Teams enables all employees to collaborate and communicate with each other, even when working remotely.

WHAT IS MICROSOFT TEAMS?

Microsoft Teams is a centralised online hub, which connects employees and allows them to share and manage files, documents, messages and video from just one screen. Staff can manage and collaborate on work from home or in the office.

chat_in_the_office_while_you_work_from_homeThe thinking behind Microsoft Teams is that this is a better way of communicating than trying to share files using different send services, and missing messages as inboxes get overwhelmed by an avalanche of seemingly irrelevant, group emails. Teams facilitates faster, more direct communication between staff, making any organisation more productive at the same time.

44 MILLON USERS CAN’T BE WRONG

The spread of Covid-19 has forced many people to work from home at fairly short notice.  Microsoft says it has seen an “unprecedented spike” in usage since the outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus. The company reports that it already has 44 million daily active users, generating 900 million worth of call and meeting minutes every day. This figure is going to rise as offices around the world shut down and employees work remotely from home to help stem the pandemic.

A VIRTUAL OFFICE

For the first few weeks’ working from home, most staff will probably have tasks to be getting on with. What happens after that? How will firms allocate and divide the workload and make sure the work is being done? Once projects and tasks are set, how can staff contact each other to work together in achieving the best outcome?

That’s where Microsoft Teams can help. Launched in 2016 to replace Skype for Business, it is part of the popular Office 365 suite, which includes Word, Powerpoint, Outlook and Excel. All of these can be linked with Teams to provide a virtual office that all employees can access remotely from any device, any time and from anywhere.  You’ll just have to bring your own coffee.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH TEAMS?

The beauty of Teams is that from just one window – the hub – you can call upon exisiting 365 applications to collaborate with colleagues and work more effectively:

  • Instant Messaging/Chat
  • Share Files & Documents (OneDrive, OneNote or SharePoint)
  • Plan Calendar & Meetings (Outlook)
  • Video Conferencing and Calls (Microsoft Phone System)

You can also choose from a menu of additional apps that connect with other services your employer may also use. Growing all the time this list currently includes Salesforce, Starleaf, Dynamics, Mailchimp, ZenDesk and Evernote. Select the ones you use most, direct from Microsoft Teams.

HOW TO GET STARTED WITH MICROSOFT TEAMS

As soon as your organisation has Teams, you access it by downloading the application to your desk or mobile device. You will see one window showing Activity, Chat, Teams, Calendar, Calls, Files and Apps as options along the left-hand side. To get started you need to create, or be included in a team.  To set one up yourself choose a team name and then add the members from your organisation that you would normally work with as part of said team – for example Marketing Team, Project Team, Customer Service Team.

Instant Messaging

As you might expect from the company behind Skype, the chat option in Microsoft Teams is first class. You can send instant messages to individuals or groups, then save chats and  bookmark any part of any conversation you may need to refer to later. A popular extra feature is the ability to send GIFs and emojis. These can enhance a message or provide a little light relief in the absence of face-to-face contact because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Share Files & Documents

In Microsoft Teams anyone in your team will see the same interface as you. You can open,  upload, share and work on documents with another colleague or team, or indeed the entire organisation if you are feeling particularly brave. You can make available to colleagues your other Office 365 applications, like Word, Powerpoint and Excel. Ask them to check, co-edit, create or update files with you.

Plan Calendar & Meetings

Any organisation needs to be able to make plans and Microsoft Teams includes a Planner function. Use it to assign day-to-day tasks to team members or publicise a schedule for bigger projects far into the future. Use the Calendar function to arrange meetings and calls and make them visible to others.

Video Conferencing and Calls

Microsoft Teams makes possible internal one-on-one or group video and conference calls between staff from the same organisation. Choose Video Call or Audio Call from the Chat function, and invite up to 20 colleagues to join the meeting.

Think of Audio Call as being the equivalent of the company’s own internal phone system. From any remote location select a contact through Teams and have a chat with them from your device to theirs.

While COVID-19 may have stopped meetings in person, Microsoft Teams still enables face-to-face discussions to take place. Video Call starts a video conference, where you can see your colleagues in all their high-definition glory.

Microsoft Phone System

A recent development is Microsoft Phone System, which adds the ability to make external calls from Microsoft Teams too. This opens up the possibility of replacing your business phone system with a hosted cloud-based service – talk to us if you wish to explore this option.

MICROSOFT SECURITY

A major factor in the success of Microsoft Teams is its excellent reputation for cyber-security and compliance. Many organisations find this reason enough alone to put Teams top of their list as an online system for team collaboration and remote working.

Incorporating all the protection and security layers from the platform, it also includes two-stage authentication at team and organisation level, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in storage or in transit.

MICROSOFT TEAMS FOR YOUR ORGANISATION

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a sharp increase in the numbers of people in the UK working remotely. Empowering these employees to work from home in such a way that productivity remains high is a major challenge for any organisation today.

Microsoft Teams is used by millions of organisations worldwide. Contact us to find how it can also work for yours.

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