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11 Ways to Productively Work Remotely with Microsoft Teams

Libby Fisette Libby Fisette  |  
Mar 31, 2020
 
This blog is excerpted from, “How to Productively Work Remotely with Microsoft Teams: The Guide” by Libby Fisette, Skyline’s Modern Workplace Director. Download the full guide here (including screenshots)
 
In the past few weeks, we've seen the world quickly shift to working remote. Some companies (like Skyline) have been able to painlessly make the switch while others are in unchartered waters as they navigate the complexities of a remote workforce.

Here are 11 ways you can engage employees, present well, and encourage team culture – all while maintaining everyone's productivity.
 
[Download the full guide – including screenshots]
  

1. Turn on your video

Turn on your video when you're on a call with team members or customers to get that face-to-face interaction. Studies have shown that 55% of communication is non-verbal body language. When we meet in person, we take that for granted (along with other cues that convey mood and tone). Not only will this help with clear communication, but it may also keep participants more engaged in the conversation and less likely to multi-task during the meeting.
 

2. Share your screen

Share your screen to keep everyone focused and on the same page (literally). This will help drive a common goal, keep people engaged, and allow meetings to be more efficient and effective. If you are sharing your screen, zoom in on your content. You might be viewing the document or presentation on a large monitor, but others may be on smaller laptop screens – or even mobile devices – and struggling to view the details. (See how)
 

3. Engage participants one at a time

Be sure to engage the participants in a call to make it more collaborative. Be sure to wait a few moments to allow people to come off mute and ask/answer questions or make comments. When you do engage the participants, single out one person at a time. This also helps give everyone a voice – even those team members or participants who might be more reserved will have an opportunity to speak up.
 

4. Engage a wing man

If you are presenting, it's nice to have someone be your wing man. Let them start the recording and continue to let people into the meeting (if you have external guests) so you can start on time and not be interrupted by newcomers.
 

5. Stop for feedback

Be sure to check in every so often to make sure the rest of the participants are with you. A few weeks ago, our team was on a call and we lost the audio of our presenter and had trouble conveying that to her. When we did get her attention, she had to go back a few slides and repeat what we missed. Technical glitches may happen so keep the chat window open so participants can communicate with you. (Download the guide)
 

6. Record the meeting

Recording Teams meetings allows people to catch up if they couldn’t attend in person. It's also a great way to refer to important details later. If this is a standing meeting, you can record a "channel meeting" that will be uploaded to the channel in Stream and posted as a link in the chat.
 

7. Create opportunities for "water cooler" conversations

Last week, with everyone having to work from home, Skyline associates posted pictures of their home office setup. One person started the post and (within a few days) dozens of people posted, liked and commented. This not only helped us visualize where our colleagues are hanging out for the next month or so, it allowed us some of that natural "water cooler" conversation to happen naturally.
 

8. Have some fun

Our Green Bay team posts an RFOTD (random fact of the day) in a channel that engages people in conversation. And last Friday, Skyline scheduled a "virtual happy hour" which almost half of our company attended. We all shared our video and had as much fun as we would have had in the office. In fact, I think it was better since we were able to engage our truly remote workforce (those living/working in other states) as well. (See examples)
 

9. Collaborate on documents

It might be your first inclination to share a file via email, but what happens when multiple people have changes and you need to piece everyone's input in a single document? If you attach or upload a file in Teams, you can create a conversation that sticks with the document so all authors can see the comments and respond. When you co-author, you can visually see who is editing the document down to the very paragraph, text box, or cell they are working on.
 

10. Control the noise

As we replace our daily face-to-face interactions with productivity tools, you might feel you're getting more messages in your inbox or through Teams chat than ever before. I recommend setting some clear boundaries for your focus hours while still making time to check in on your teammates.
  

11. Manage your chats

I sometimes struggle to manage incoming messages and potential tasks from many sources (email, chat, phone calls, etc.). Using an app like Planner or To Do can help you stay organized. Otherwise, you can pin a chat so it shows up at the top of your list, mark a chat as unread if you want to act on it later and need a visual reminder, or you can save a message for later.
 

You Can Be Productive and Work Remotely with Teams

For those who have access to Microsoft Teams or similar collaboration/communication tools, you're in luck! Once you learn the basics, it can be business as usual. In fact, you may feel even more connected, effective, and efficient than ever before.
 
For those who are new to this style of working, contact us to learn how you can successfully implement Teams at your organization.
 
And make sure to download the full guide for all of my recommendations and tips.
 
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