The rise in remote working that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges for businesses. One of the main challenges for many is communication – how do you keep your team both motivated and on track when you aren’t all in the same room?
Communication and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams help teams work efficiently from home. While many organisations were already using tools like these in their offices, their popularity has skyrocketed for those previously unwilling to make the leap towards remote working. Here we’ll look at how Teams can help those who are working remotely.
How does Microsoft Teams work?
Microsoft Teams is a productivity, collaboration and messaging platform launched in 2017.
It allows teams to chat, meet, call, learn, and collaborate all in one place, from one single login. Put simply, it looks to replicate that physical office setting we’re all familiar with online.
Features of Microsoft Teams that aid remote working
One big benefit of Teams is that it brings everything you need for work into one place. From the platform, you can do pretty much any task needed of you – share a file, check in with a colleague, host a meeting or work on a document collaboratively in real-time. Let’s take a look at some of the features Microsoft Teams boasts that come in handy for remote working.
Access work files from anywhere
Microsoft Teams is entirely cloud-based. It’s supported on various operating systems, including Windows, Mac, iOS and Andriod devices. Wherever you go, you can take your work with you – all you need is your company login details and a reliable internet connection. Employees are no longer restricted to the physical in-office network as they can access any information stored in the cloud through Teams without having to rely on a VPN.
Work collaboratively in real time
Storing files on the cloud means employees working from home can upload and access any files they would normally use in the office from home. You can also say goodbye to the fear of overwriting a document or being locked out if someone else is using it – any user with the right access permissions can work on a document in real-time through Teams at the same time as others.
Deliver resources and communications efficiently
In situations where guidance is changing fast such as in a pandemic, employers need to be able to quickly communicate with and support their employees. Microsoft Teams allows instant chat messaging and resource sharing which is useful in emergency communications.
This can be done in a couple of different ways. Individual teams can be split into channels, where they can keep any team-specific communications away from the rest of the business. Admins can also post notices or announcements that notify users of any information they need to know. Resources, files and policies can also be shared in a similar way in real time.
Virtual meetings where an email just won’t cut it
Perhaps to the disappointment of reluctant meeting-goers, Teams offers the ability to host or attend team meetings through video conferencing. The platform supports both audio and video calls with full screen-sharing capabilities for those needing more visual interactions.
Businesses can also use Microsoft Teams for their VoIP needs. This allows users to receive calls directly to their computers or mobile phones as if there were in the office. There’s a security benefit in doing this through Teams too, as employees won’t have to share their personal phone numbers to enjoy this feature.
Applications employees will recognise plus new integrations
As Teams is first and foremost a Microsoft product, it hosts all the familiar applications you would expect – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other Office 365 products. On top of this, Teams can also integrate with other popular apps.
These third-party Teams integrations range from ready-made bots useful for automating certain processes to custom apps developed in-house to support your specific business needs. Employees can access whatever they need to do their job more efficiently through Teams – whether it’s Twitter, MailChimp or a niche project management tool.
Enhanced security measures to keep remote work secure
Remote work has the potential to be very risky from a security point of view. Outside of the office, it’s harder to make sure that employees are all keeping on top security best practises – especially if they are using a personal device and not a company-issued one.
Microsoft Teams goes some way to alleviating that stress. As the platform can be accessed by a web browser and the user’s computer doesn’t have to be connected to the company network directly, company data is better protected. Teams also has several built-in security features to keep data secure, including:
- auto-encryption of data
- multi-factor authentication
- single sign-on
- secure guest access if required
These can offer some reassurance to IT teams at companies who did not previously have infrastructure in place for employees to work remotely. In addition to the built-in features, it’s always recommended that businesses have a well-documented remote working policy. This policy should be regularly updated and communicated to staff during internal training.
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