Posted on: April 16, 2020

by Michelle Holbrook, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Uncommon Solutions

It is likely true that, like so many organizations, you are exploring some new definition of normal in the current work from home realities that have come with COVID-19 stay at home orders across the globe. However, with robust tools like Microsoft Teams work from home looks a lot different than it used to, and productivity is rarely impacted when teams are geographically spread, even under normal circumstances. To support our clients who may be operating in a new paradigm and as a reminder to those that have been thriving in a remote worker model for years, Uncommon wants you to know that Microsoft Teams is here to help you stay connected with your teammates wherever they are. Here is a quick list of 5 best practices for working from home with Microsoft Teams.

  1. How to make the most of your meetings
    • Remember that meetings aren’t about the technology, they are about the people in the meeting. Be sure you follow some basic guidelines when calling and conducting a meeting whether in person or online:
      • Have a clear purpose
      • Use your meeting description to detail what the meeting for
      • Use the Chat feature to share reminders or to share documents you wish the group to review prior to the meeting
      • Use the Record feature to record your meeting, but only if your organization and participants find this acceptable 
      • You might want to incorporate a Whiteboard into your discussion, you can use Microsoft Whiteboard to ideate with your team
  2. Use your video whenever possible
    • When you have sufficient bandwidth, turn on your video (The Do’s and Don’ts of Video Conferencing), and if desired you may blur your background to keep it from being a distraction. Using Video will profoundly impact your ability to collaborate with your team remotely. However if you have limited bandwidth, it is best to skip the video in order to enable high quality audio.
  3. Be Inclusive to all participants
    • Remember all those books and articles you read about emotional intelligence, well when meeting online, it is really important to exercise proactive inclusivity. Simple ways to do this include asking everyone on the call for their input, and by letting all participants know if you are having a hard time hearing them – often this is because their audio is too low –  or when their device is causing a disruption to the entire meeting. Be sure to address any of these technical issues at the start of the meeting, so that person won’t be excluded as the meeting progresses.
    • Don’t forget to keep track of your mute button. There is nothing worse then speaking to the group when you are on mute or not muting when you are shuffling papers or typing – both of those actions can be very distracting to others on the meeting.
  4. Track meeting notes and action items, and share frequently referenced documents
    • Take notes and share follow-ups in chat. It’s harder to get a casual recap in the break room or by the water cooler when there is no break room or water cooler.
    • Schedule 15-minute follow-up meetings for those items you traditionally would take care of in a casual hallway conversation. And be sure to include any necessary prep work in the meeting invitation.
    • In channels, create tabs for important files, websites, or dashboards so the content is available to everyone on the team.
  5. Customize your virtual workspace
    • Be sure to pin your favorite 1:1 or Group Chats so they always appear on the upper left.
    • Drag and drop your teams so they are in priority order, and hide teams you don’t work in often.
    • Manage notifications in your Profile Settings to control interruptions and distractions.
    • Install Microsoft Teams on your mobile device so you can join meetings and collaborate from anywhere.

Whether working remotely is temporary or your office is entirely remote always, Microsoft Teams is there to help you be productive from anywhere. You can find quick online courses and help content by visiting https://aka.ms/TeamsHelp. Be sure to share your tips and tricks online with the #TeamsTips or by contacting a Remarkably Human IT expert at Uncommon Solutions, connect@uncommonsolutions.com. Our team of architects, business analysts and strategic consultants are online and available to support your needs from obtaining the right licensing through implementing and onboarding the right technology solutions that support your unique business processes. Give us a call to book your free consultation, we look forward to meeting you soon.

Uncommon Solutions was founded in 2002, has a staff of approximately 30 IT professionals, and is one of the few Managed Microsoft Gold Partners. We are a full-service IT firm that partners with our clients to leverage technology in support of their mission and business objectives.  Uncommon Solutions is committed to discovering and aligning with your business strategy in all that we do.  With multiple practice specialties in the areas of CIO Services, Business Productivity and Insights, Applications, and Infrastructure management, Uncommon complements and enhances your in-house IT competencies with varying degrees of consultative and implementation services from architecture and design through to planning, implementation and support services. Further, as a managed partner and CSP provider, our relationship with Microsoft will help you maximize your return on existing investments in Microsoft’s platform through access to incentive funding, experience, and expertise.