With the current uncertainty around COVID-19, organizations are pressed to ramp up their remote work capabilities. One tool to help is Microsoft Teams, now available free for six months.
Microsoft Teams is the group collaboration platform in Office 365. Through Teams, your employees can collaborate and connect with core tools like chat (group and private), online meetings and project management tools.
Getting started with Microsoft Teams
If your organization has a Microsoft or Office 365 subscription, you already have the Microsoft Teams feature. If not, you can download the six-month trial and get started.
Download: Teams is available to download for use on the web, desktop or mobile devices.
Login: Existing Microsoft users can log in with the same Microsoft logins they use to access their email.
Demo: To learn more about Teams and how to use it, Microsoft offers a short intro demo that walks users through software layout and core features. For a longer (15 minute) tutorial including both user and admin controls, we recommend this Teams tutorial.
Security and admin: IT security officers can set up controls in the security compliance center. For example, this could include data loss prevention policies for both private and group chats. Users with admin access can set up other controls, such as the ability to record meetings, use memos or delete messages.
Some of our top security recommendations:
- Configure multi-factor authentication.
- Only allow certain people to create new teams (to prevent digital sprawl).
- Disable external sharing to prevent accidental data leaks outside the company. If you need to have external sharing, you can setup a whitelist to only allow specific organizations to collaborate with your organization in Teams.
Succeeding as a remote team
At the outset, some of your employees may relish the opportunity to work from home. But others may find their new work conditions unsettling and distracting. Your employees may be facing any number of challenges, from childcare issues to anxiety and isolation.
Consider what you can do to build connection, reset expectations and create a culture of patience and learning as you all adjust to these uncertain times. Here are some tips:
- Communicate: Work rhythms may not be the same right now, particularly for people with children at home. Ask employees to use the status message in Teams so people can see whether they’re available, out or “heads down” in other work.
- Connect: People are missing out on the casual watercooler conversations they have in the workplace. So managers need to get intentional about making up for that. When leading a virtual meeting, for example, allow more time up front for those small personal exchanges.
Plan virtual social events, too. Consider a short afternoon happy hour and invite team members to a video call to show off their workspace, kids, pets, etc.
- Build online meeting skills: Meeting leaders should be mindful of video conference dynamics. It can be harder for someone to interject or indicate they have something to say. Leaders need to create pauses and invite participants to share.
Encourage participants to turn on video if they have the bandwidth. Face-to-face interaction helps teams feel connected. People new to video conferencing will need a bit of coaching around how to mute their microphone, use the chat feature during group meetings or blur out background distractions.
- Encourage healthy boundaries: Without the natural cues and interruptions that happen in a workplace, some people have trouble stepping away from their desk. Promote the importance of good well-being practices, such as taking a break to exercise, eating a proper meal or logging off at the end of the day. These habits can help ward off stress and burnout and may be particularly important to reinforce right now.
- Learn and share: Think about all the teachers jumping in to help their colleagues start online instruction. Encourage similar learning in house. Recognize employees who help with peer-to-peer coaching, and hold team-share sessions to talk about how you’re using remote collaboration tools (such as the planners and task management features in Teams).
Getting more help with Microsoft Teams
This is the first time in history where we’ve had this level of technology and this level of pandemic happen at once. Even if your organization was not fully prepared for remote work, you can do a lot with the remote tools available.
Contact us if you have any questions. We’re happy to help.
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