In a single month, millions of employees from traditional office environments have gotten their first taste of working on a fully-remote team. And for a lot of businesses, the benefits and cost-savings of remote teams has been truly eye-opening. Many businesses even expect some of their employees to continue working remotely after the widespread stay-at-home orders are lifted and the pandemic subsides. Whether you are looking at a permanent Work Remote strategy, or just want to make the most of the time we’re in right now, here are some best practices and productivity hacks to help foster a healthy remote culture.
Embrace New Communication Norms
In a physical office environment, a significant amount of communication and cues are given by gestures or nods, or at unofficial chats around the coffee machine, desk “drive-bys” or open-door drop-ins. When working on a distributed team, it’s vital to examine the ways your team will be expected to communicate.
Emojis in Chat
Many people think of “Emoji” as a feature of personal, off-the-clock communication, but a surprising amount can be communicated professionally using the right system of Emojis.
- Acknowledge that you’ve read a message or agree in Teams Chat by using a “Thumbs Up”
- Acknowledge that you’re looking into something with the “Eyes”
- Offer appreciation in an instant using a “Heart” or “Clapping Hands”
Just make sure your team has a clear key or glossary to what Emoji-reactions “officially” mean within your Teams Chats.
Embrace Asynchronous Communication
While you may have had frequent, daily “stand-ups” or ad-hoc huddles in your office, not every announcement or check-in requires an all-hands video call with Microsoft Meetings. Not only is it unrealistic to fill your employees’ schedules with more meetings than ever while completing the same amount of work, but it is simply inefficient. With the variety of tools available in your Office365 suite and Microsoft Teams, you can unlock the power of asynchronous communication.
- Video calls are useful for some things. Seeing faces and hearing voices offer valuable insight on the pulse of your team when discussing nuanced situations or team decision-making. Try to reserve using Microsoft Teams Meetings for only the most important things, such as 1:1 performance reviews or mentor-meetings, and larger team meetings that require live discussion and participation.
- Use Microsoft Teams Channels and Chat all day. Microsoft Teams takes the place of your office seating chart, so quick questions and anything that you would ordinarily drop by someone’s desk to ask can be handled in 1:1 Chat. Organize your Teams Channels for different categories of chatter, such as unique channels for different projects, company-wide announcements, teams/departments within your organization, or even a channel for all those funny pet-coworker photos.
- Chat is an Asset. Don’t underestimate the value of chat compared to emails. Casual conversations often become useful to refer back to, and as new employees are onboarded to your company, it will save managers and longtime employees time if answers to common questions are just a keystroke away using the Chat Search. Rote status updates, quick questions, and general brainstorming are well-suited to Chat.
Control User Permissions
As your remote workforce adopts the new cloud tools from their own homes, there is sure to be some level of experimentation and “customization” users want to try out. To reduce redundancy and maintain structure in your digital environment, it is crucial to establish smart user permissions by assigning admins and moderators.
Security Authorization in Microsoft Teams
The current default settings in Teams allow any user to create a new Team. Just like you put careful planning into the floor plan of your office and the specific uses for different rooms in the building, and the space each department occupies, you will want to decide and limit who in your organization has the permissions to create Teams, delete channels, install apps and more. This can be discussed in your Office365 Roadmap Planning Session.
When it comes to the day-to-day use of your shared digital workspaces, it’s helpful to have moderators “in the trenches.” Even if your company is leveraging best-in-class managed IT services, moderators can help keep these workspaces tidy and organized, and aid in the rollout and adoption of the tools and features. Security best practice is to assign the least permissive role possible when assigning admin privileges.
Document New Processes
In your physical office, HR typically pens an Employee Handbook that sets expectations for how employees are expected to behave, resources and best practices. In your remote work environment, you should work with IT and your management team to document the new policies and procedures for remote working, answers to commonly asked questions, technical guides for the new software and services in use, and more.
Luckily, Microsoft Sharepoint makes it easy to build useful, no-coding-required sites for everything from your remote employee intranet to complex project management dashboards.
- Build a Sharepoint company hub sites and team sites to share news, announcements, and upcoming events to the right internal audiences and connect the right people to the right resources.
- Build sites for different projects within Teams as a common repository for project assets, client information, and the latest versions of all shared documents.
- MS Sharepoint and MS Flow work hand in hand to automate repetitive tasks. Utilize a Microsoft Flow automation to create shared OneNote documents for upcoming meetings, update databases in other departments that need to mirror yours anytime a new record is added, and more.
The tips offered here barely scratch the surface of what Microsoft Teams and Office365 can do for your remote workforce. At Windows Management Experts we work around the clock to keep your information secure and online, and ensure your teams have the support needed to transition to the new remote workplace successfully. Request a call today to find out how else Windows Management Experts can help your business transition to a remote workforce.