Are you trying to figure out how to run your business virtually in response to the novel coronavirus? Learn the benefits of using Microsoft Teams.
As the world grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak, company executives are increasingly considering remote work as an option to reduce the spread of the disease and the impact it has on their business.
Yet many organizations are not technologically prepared for such a significant change in how they work. And, others may have the technology but don’t know how to get started or put the right governance in place.
With Microsoft Teams, a communication and collaboration platform you can deploy quickly, your business can keep running safely and securely in a virtual environment.
Teams provides remote workers with the following functionality:
- Voice or video calls and meetings among your organization and external contacts
- Chat messaging between groups of people within your organization, and
- Secure document collaboration
Before you get started, learn the benefits of using Teams, how it’s improved our virtual work experience, and how quickly you can deploy the tool so your employees can work from home.
Benefits of Using Microsoft Teams for Remote Work
Microsoft Teams offers many benefits for remote work environments, including the ability to keep communication and collaboration as effective as traditional methods, while also meeting your security and compliance needs.
Here are some of the advantages:
- Video keeps people connected. As employees start to work remotely, many will miss out on the face-to-face interaction that occurs in an office setting. Providing high-quality video and audio capabilities can go a long way in helping reduce the impact. This is especially true if some of your employees decide to become further disengaged from their community and aren’t willing to venture out from their homes. With Teams, they can continue seeing their team members, albeit in a virtual setting. Whether it’s a one-on-one video call with a colleague or a video meeting with several people in your workplace, Teams can support it.
- Chat keeps employees engaged. When your employees begin to worry about how long they must remain home, having virtual capabilities like Teams’ chat messaging will help lessen their feelings of isolation, improve morale and keep them engaged with work and those around them. To stay connected, employees tend to have informal, lighthearted conversations with their colleagues on everything from families and pets to challenges or achievements. Teams gives your employees the ability to keep up with the latest on their colleagues.
- Coauthoring supports secure document collaboration. Using Teams’ secure coauthoring capabilities takes the frustration out of sharing files through email or an unsecured network. Other advantages: the ability to quickly find documents within Teams, easily revert to previous versions, and have documented conversations to understand context that would be obvious in a face-to-face discussion. Now, these practices are all securely self-contained and discoverable within Teams.
- Communication stays centralized. Since you and your employees can no longer just “drop by” a co-worker’s cubicle, and since virtual workers typically work outside of the normal workday hours, providing a “one-stop shop” through Microsoft Teams is appealing. Employees will have less of a need to check multiple communications (for example: personal text messages on a phone, unapproved or insecure third-party texting applications, phone messages, work email, personal email, and more) since these are all self-contained within Microsoft Teams.
- Group formation supports collaboration. Your need to quickly form a committee or formal team to collaborate on a special topic won’t go away. If anything, that need may grow when you transform to a remote workforce, given the increased likelihood of communication needs — like collaborating on unique employee health or personal challenges, providing additional human resources guidance, and easily tracking the status of everyone across the workforce. It also helps that you can secure sensitive information and limit access to those authorized.
- Meetings and events can be recorded. Lastly, your organization can continue to support some of the extracurricular activities you previously hosted. For example, if your company has special events such as sponsoring health seminars, book clubs, or educational opportunities, these can continue in Microsoft Teams. The tool even gives you the capability to combine virtual meetings and in-person gatherings — and record them using Stream, so anyone can access at any time.
Several indirect advantages of using Microsoft Teams also exist. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, most employees will save an average of 26 minutes of travel to and from work, which results in saving money on travel and auto maintenance and contributes to spending more time with family.
As coronavirus leads to more closures and impacts more people in our communities, moving to a virtual environment can help your employees balance their work tasks and care for family.
How Microsoft Teams Improved Our Virtual Work Experience
We are quick to tout the benefits of Teams because Centric Consulting experienced it firsthand since migrating to Microsoft Office 365 almost two years ago. We conduct over 95 percent of our meetings and calls remotely, both within our company as well as with our clients.
We can quantify the magnitude of our remote collaboration across hundreds of groups of people through statistics gathered on Teams usage at our company. In just the past 30 days, we participated in over 320,000 private chat messages, 11,000 team chat messages, 6,000 calls and 6,000 audio and video meetings.
During an internal survey conducted of our employees, 75 percent stated that Teams improved their collaboration, 87 percent said they use Teams almost daily, and 63 percent are much more productive.
Anecdotally, we received frequent positive feedback from our employees that it has significantly reduced the time to collaborate on and finalize statements of work for our clients, improved and sped up the creation of client deliverables, and has significantly improved collaboration on projects with our external clients.
These statistics are a direct result of our company being almost completely virtual, having over 750 consultants located across the United States and over 200 consultants outside of the United States. We’ve found Microsoft Teams to be a game-changer, helping our employees better connect with each other and the hundreds of clients we provide services to across the nation.
How Quickly Your Organization Can Deploy Microsoft Teams
It’s important to highlight we have worked in a largely remote environment since our inception 20 years ago and have used Teams for nearly two years.
Needless to say, we didn’t gain these efficiencies on day one. It has been a journey, and we continue to increase Teams adoption over time as we discover more ways to leverage its capabilities. We could say the same of any new large-scale IT application.
The good news is that it’s possible to quickly get a “bare-bones” implementation deployed that provides basic chat and meeting capabilities. Getting an Office 365 tenant in place, accounts created, and people licensed for Teams could take less than a week.
Providing more advanced capabilities to support a larger-scale use of its collaboration capabilities along with some basic training, adoption, change management and governance would take between two to four weeks.
How quickly your company can leverage the capabilities of Microsoft Teams will depend on how you plan to use it, how much time and money you want to invest in the plan, and how committed you are to promote its usage across your workforce.
You may find this unfortunate situation ends up offering you a competitive advantage. Showcasing your company as a modernized workforce could lead directly to attracting and retaining employees drawn to companies using the most modern tools.
Our own experience using Microsoft Teams combined with the work we’ve accomplished together with clients to deploy, govern and adopt Teams puts us in a unique position to help you evaluate your options.