Working from home has been somewhat of a shock to the system for many. Prior to the pandemic, only around 1 in 20 Americans were working from home on a full-time basis and only around 40% had ever occasionally worked remotely as part of their job. The Covid-19 pandemic saw around a third of the American workforce working from home – accelerating a slow trend away from strictly office-based working practices.
A late 2019 Linkedin survey found that the vast majority (82%) would like the option to work remotely at least one day per week, and a substantial proportion (57%) said they’d like to do it more than 3 days per week. Various studies have found working remotely to bring many benefits, such as:
- Increased productivity
- Lower Absence rates
- Better employee retention
- Improved employee work-life balance
- Lower overheads (less office floorspace required)
- Improved Physical and mental health
Working remotely can bring many benefits to businesses and employees alike, however, to get the most out of your remote team you have to make sure the right structures and productivity aids are in place.
Many of our clients use Microsoft 365, a powerful suite of products that combines the traditional Microsoft Office apps and many new services with the power of ‘the cloud.’
365 incorporates a number of platforms designed to allow seamless collaboration and intelligent workflow management – perfect for coordinating teams and keeping your remote workforce productive. Let’s look at a few of these platforms in further detail.
Microsoft Teams – getting the Team together just got a whole lot simpler
Teams have only been around since 2017 (not long by Microsoft standards), but since then it has made a name for itself as one of the world’s most popular and effective collaboration platforms. If your business is a heavy user of the Office Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.) then Teams really is the logical choice when it comes to collaboration platforms as it’s deeply embedded in the core Microsoft product line.
A single interface, many features
Teams roll a variety of communication media into a single, intuitive interface. Video/audio conferencing, instant messaging, file sharing/real-time document editing and the option to add telephony capabilities…Teams can do all this and much more. Teams is perfect for document-heavy collaboration thanks to SharePoint and OneDrive integration. Need to quickly edit that important file? Get it done in minutes by allowing multiple team members to work on it at the same time within the Teams window.
Keep the conversation focussed with ‘Team’ and ‘Channels’
A ‘Team’ is an online space where you gather a group of employees to work towards a common goal or collaborate on a particular body of work.
A ‘Channel’ is a branch within a Team where the conversation actually happens and work gets done around a more specific aim – it acts a subfolder. Channels might be accessible to all members of a Team or only a select few.
‘Teams’ and ‘Channels’ are simple devices that keep conversations on-topic.
It’s Easy to Use
Existing Microsoft 365 users will feel right at home using Teams. The interface is pleasingly intuitive and your employees will probably master the fundamentals in a couple of hours.
Add your favourite apps for a unique, tailored experience
You can launch most Microsoft Apps within the Teams interface. The like of Planner, Forms, Lists (new), OneNote, Stream, PowerBI, SharePoint and all the core Office apps can all be launched within Teams by adding them as an app or pinning them to individual channels.
Teams also allow for the integration of hundreds of third-party apps; so the likes of Asana, Trello, Zoom, Polly, Hive and many more can also be launched within Teams.
Teams have security and compliance at its core
Subscribers to 365 benefit from Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security platform. This platform gives you the tools you need to enable flexible, remote working practices while keeping your digital assets tightly managed.
Manage access to devices and applications with Azure active directory; enforce multi-factor authentication so that only your trusted employees can access your sensitive data.
Control file access and classify sensitive files with Microsoft Information Protection.
Spot and counter cyber threats before they do damage with a range of advanced threat protection tools including ‘Microsoft Cloud App Security’ designed to ensure security across your cloud services.
When it comes to collaboration in the Microsoft 365 environment, Teams is the app around which all other revolve. However, 365 features many other platforms which complement Teams and help tackle many of the challenges remote workforces face. Stay tuned as we explore these platforms in future articles.
We’re Elixis Technology
In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.