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Managing your workforce remotely with Microsoft Teams

Remote work is the idea of working outside of a traditional office environment. It has been around for decades, but the recent rise in online jobs, apps, and platforms have made it easier than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way companies manage their workforce. Employees have been asked to work remotely from home, to keep businesses functioning with as little disruption as possible. Almost 70% of Australians are working from home now, compared to just over 40% before the pandemic began.

While the pandemic will eventually pass, it’s important to acknowledge remote working is likely to stay. Businesses are looking at the best way to manage their workforce as employees continue to work remotely or even in a hybrid model of part-time on and off site.

Managing a distributed workforce can be tough. The difficulties vary from missed conversations to a lack of collaboration, but there are ways to address them.

The key to managing remote workers is communicating openly and intelligently, monitoring their progress and efficiency, and avoiding the loss of valuable time. This is where Microsoft Teams can be set up to ensure better communication, increase efficiency and avoid problems.

How can Microsoft Teams help manage a remote workforce?

Remote employees can feel lonely or stressed about work/life balance, but they also get to create a working environment that suits their needs.

To reap the benefits of remote work, employees need support from managers to ensure effective communication. Management is crucial to any organisation and the first step to boosting employee motivation and increasing productivity is to focus on connection and collaborative teamwork. Microsoft Teams has now over 115 million users every day, and organisations are relying on the power and potential of this collaboration tool.

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace that brings together teams from different places to design, collaborate, and share content. It offers a centralised space for connection in real time, enabling employees to share content, engage in meetings, calls, chat and collaborate on projects – all in one place.

So how to bring all this power and potential to bear when managing a remote workforce? In this article, we show you how to successfully manage your workforce remotely using Microsoft Teams now and into the future.

Create specific channels

Keep workflow and collaboration simple by creating separate teams and channels to organise conversations according to departments or task groups.

Some organisations create multiple teams for each specific department, then add channels within each department for project-based collaboration. Others opt to set up Teams with one main team and then channels for projects/departments.

Managers can use Teams to foster a connected culture among employees:

  • Weekly department Teams meetings, where everyone is encouraged to have cameras on
  • Create channels for collaboration on specific projects and outline how each channel should be used
  • Make time for casual Team chats, to build connections to help employees to feel more connected.

Create a ‘Wiki’ for guidance

Working remotely can make it harder to maintain proper protocols and ensure everyone is working on the same page. Setting up a team Wiki within Microsoft Teams can help avoid some of these problems and make sure your team follows the right work procedures for their team or project.

Each channel has its own Wiki Tab, so managers can set guidelines and policies relevant to their department or process for projects. For example, this means your team doesn’t have to go looking for guidelines for approvals – the information is in their virtual workspace. Employees know who is doing what, so there’s no misinformation about their responsibilities in the workflow.

Collaboration and project management with OneNote

Microsoft Teams has OneNote built in which shows up as a tab marked ‘Notes’ within the channels. You can discuss one note together, sketch, highlight important points & even work on the same document at the same time. The Notes tab is intended to be used more casually than Wiki, for collaborating, prioritising, and keeping quick notes. You can even use it as a place to brainstorm and keep track of ideas.

OneNote makes it possible to manage someone else’s tasks with this app. You can view what they have on their plate without having to switch windows between the Notes app and their task list.

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Centralise everything with SharePoint

One of the most common challenges faced while working in a remote environment is ineffective collaboration. When working together in an office space, collaboration is easy but remote workspaces require a reliable tool for centralising information.

SharePoint is one of the most valuable Microsoft 365 apps when managing remote employees. SharePoint essentially allows each team to have a virtual website where all documents, files and notes are stored. When working remotely, file management is critical to enable all employees to have access to essential business information, documents, images etc.

SharePoint enhances collaboration between all those involved in a project, whether that’s internal staff or external partners. All these features are available through an easy-to-use interface that anyone can navigate.

Add ‘Tabs’ for frequently used apps

One of the challenges of managing teams working remotely is bringing together all the tools that are used for different purposes. Everyone uses apps every day, either in the office or when working remotely. It’s hard to imagine not using apps to communicate and collaborate, and for remote workers, it becomes essential when not being able to work in person with colleagues.

Within Microsoft Teams, you can set up popular apps in channels, so teams don’t need to switch between tabs and browsers as much. This saves time but also keeps remote workers in the virtual workspace, so they’re more efficient and less likely to be distracted.

Working remotely comes with a unique set of challenges, but by setting up a smart system, you can manage your remote team with ease. Talk to the experts at INTELLIWORX to help you realise the full potential of Microsoft Teams for your organisation.

Shane Maher

We passionately work on the IT Infrastructure of mid-tier businesses and support MSPs into cloud services. I have over 17 years of commercial experience that includes supporting and managing IT systems, developing infrastructure solutions, both onsite & in the cloud.

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