With businesses around the world no longer sticking to the 9-5 grind amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now more important than ever before to give employees the tools they need for flexible working. So what is the best tool businesses can utilise to ensure remote and global teams work together, share information and communicate with ease? Enter: Microsoft Teams. The cloud service brings people together no matter where they are in the world through seamless remote connectivity and collaboration. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some hidden Microsoft Teams features which can strengthen your business’ communication skills and productivity levels. Microsoft Teams For Remote Working Microsoft Teams is one of the greatest tools out there for remote working due to its on-the-go philosophy. From the ability to share your thoughts and ideas in group or private chats to video conference calls for up to 1,000 people, we’ve rounded up five handy Microsoft Teams features you can use to improve remote working methods. Filter Personal And Business Messages It can prove difficult to stay on top of messages when you are trying to work whilst also keeping an eye on your active chat feed. Thankfully, you can easily organise messages and personal lists using the activity filter - a great way to keep on top of your to-do list whilst away from your desk. Handy Microsoft Teams Shortcuts It has never been easier to save time at work, as Future Computers has discovered a number of great keyboard shortcuts that you can use on the platform. To open a new chat: Ctrl + 1 To open calls: Ctrl + 5 To open files: Ctrl + 6 To accept a video call: Ctrl + Shift + A To start a video call: Ctrl + Shift + U To decline a call: Ctrl + Shift + D Another top tip for saving time when using Microsoft Teams is utilising the slash command button. To see how you can use the shortcut, simply type a forward slash (/) into the search bar to see a list of options. Please see a handful of suggestions below: Set your status to available: /available Set your status to busy: /busy See someone’s activity: /activity Call someone: /call Chat to someone: /chat Bookmark Specific Content To Save Time When you’re working on the go, bookmarking specific messages can help save time. All you need to do is click the three dots next to any message within a Microsoft Teams channel. Select the option to ‘save this message’ and this will bookmark the chat. You will be able to access the message whenever you like by clicking your profile icon and selecting ‘saved’. All previous bookmarked items will also appear under here - great for when you’re between desks. Cloud Recording It can prove difficult to take notes whilst participating in a conference call, especially when you’re multitasking or on the go. Thankfully, you can capture - and save - meetings and group calls for future reference through cloud meeting recording. The digital record will then be stored in Microsoft Stream where users can share the clip securely throughout the business when needed. Immersive Reader If you’re using multiple screens or are struggling to concentrate when working from home, Immersive Reader is a great tool to utilise. Designed to increase productivity, the hidden feature will display and speak the text out loud. To use the helpful tool, simply hover over a message with your cursor and select ‘more options’, then ‘immersive reader’. Click ‘play’ to hear the words out loud. Microsoft Teams For Collaboration The Microsoft collaboration platform enables businesses to work together smoothly courtesy of conference calls on the go, live meetings and shareable files. To help you get the most from Microsoft Teams, here are three features which will make collaboration between colleagues seamless from bots to the VoIP phone system. Microsoft Teams Bots Microsoft Teams is also home to a number of bots designed to help colleagues collaborate with ease. For instance, Polly is a quick way to make decisions by gathering vital feedback from other members of the team using a poll. Meanwhile, the Stats bot will deliver scheduled reports via courses such as Google Analytics making it easier for workers to track progress. Another popular option is Workbot which is designed to approve workflows and manage everyday tasks such as requests for IT assistance, expense approvals and monitor sales targets. VoIP Phone System For Small Businesses Sometimes a Slack message isn’t enough and picking up the phone will save valuable employee time and energy. That’s where VoIP solutions come in to play. It doesn’t matter whether you have a Windows PC, iPhone or Google Android, anyone within the business can make a call to a fellow team member. As long as you have internet connection, you can stay in touch with colleagues no matter what time it is or where you are in the world. If this sounds like something your company would utilise, you can even add calling plans to fit your business needs. Calling plans take teams calling to the next level and allow you to make calls on the normal phone networks for local, national, mobile or international calls. Connect With Clients Do you need to connect with potential clients or freelancers? You don't need to be a member of Microsoft Teams to connect, as anyone with an email account can join a chat and meetings. Once you enable guest access, team owners can adjust rules and permissions to protect private company data and information. - Future Computers is an Australian business which offers IT solutions in Townsville, Cairns and surrounding areas. Our team manages the entire lifecycle of your company’s technologies from initial planning and design through to installation and ongoing support. Visit our website for more easy-to-follow tips on using Microsoft Teams from using the service to improve remote working to its place in streamlining business collaboration. Author Bio Andrew Bischof is the Owner/Director of Future Computers, an IT solutions provider in North Queensland. His dream of working in IT became a reality when he moved to Cairns and took over Future Computers in 2003. Since then, he has been providing IT Solutions in Townsville, Cairns and North Queensland. His goal is to provide clients with IT solutions that surprise, inspire and delight.

If your company is adapting to working in a new hybrid environment, you are in the right place. Let’s learn about the key to a successful hybrid workplace, and how leaders from around the country are using communications strategies to develop stronger and collaborative teams across the workplace.

Give Your Employees Options

Jae Pak, Founder Jae Pak MD Medical

When switching from an in-office working environment to a hybrid model, your employees will probably need to find out which days work best for them to work from the office, and which days are best for them to be home. For an efficient hybrid workplace, most employees work three days in the office and two days from wherever they work best. This could be at home, at a coffee shop, or anywhere that your employee can be the most productive. Be sure to give your employees options when it comes to making their schedules, while also ensuring that teams set aside some specific days where they can still all come together in-office to collaborate on projects. 

Promoting Collaboration

Jason Boehle, CEO QuaGrowth

When navigating a hybrid workplace with employees working from different locations, it can be more challenging to create a sense of community amongst employees. This is why it is critical to promote collaboration and communication across the company. Make sure to give your employees the means to share their work in real-time, even from different locations, as this will enable them to interact, communicate, and create the best product or idea possible. This will help to maintain a positive and close-knit company culture despite the distance between colleagues. 

Set Clear Expectations

Cody Candee, Founder and CEO Bounce

The key to creating a successful hybrid workplace is about setting clear expectations upfront and letting your employees know what the expectations are for both in the office and while working from home. Holding group meetings with both sets of employees present is a critical way to keep your team united and will let them see how a successful hybrid work environment will function. Be sure to set guidelines, as you want both sets of employees to feel valued. This can be done by setting the expectation that performance and results are the same across the company. This will help to keep your employees accountable and will prevent anyone from feeling undervalued.

Redefine Productivity

Jeremy Gardner, CEO MadeMan

Productivity is all about the amount of, and quality of work that is done.  For many employees, working from home can save hours of commuting time, which can now be time spent getting work done. Also, some people can get easily distracted at work. Whether it’s from socializing or the constant meetings, working from home in a hybrid model could help employees to stay focused and to get the job done sooner. This is not only more efficient but can also lead to higher productivity on a massive scale. Remember to focus on objectives and not the hours.

Promoting a Culture of Inclusion

Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder Audien Hearing

Working from home or in a hybrid workplace can do wonders for your employees. Whether it’s a mom who now has the time to spend with her kids and cook them a healthy dinner, or a disabled individual who is going through health challenges, working from can provide wonderful opportunities that your employees will appreciate. In meetings, live transcriptions can be turned on, and meetings can even be recorded so that employees can watch them again later if they see fit. 

Use Technology and Tools to Your Advantage

Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder & CEO OSDB

When creating a hybrid workplace, it is important to give your employees the necessary tools for success. Whether this is by offering new software training sessions to get all your employees caught up on the latest technology, or by creating a virtual office space where employees can ask questions and receive feedback, this can encourage remote collaboration among employees and help them to feel up to date on the tools they use for work. Be sure to take advantage of tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, and other cloud sharing software so that employees can give real-time feedback to each other

Focus on Communication

Marc Atiyeh, CEO Pawp

When you’re setting up a hybrid workplace model, you’ll quickly find that communication is a deciding factor in most of your successful outcomes. Be sure to carefully select both a project management app and a messenger tool, so that your team has access to all projects and can quickly and simply reach out to one another. Then, always train each team member on the features and specifics of each tool, so that they feel confident and supported when using them.

Have Top Security

Brandon Amoroso, Founder and CEO ElectrIQ Marketing

When it comes to working in a hybrid model, you must be sure that security is a top priority for your company. With hybrid work, your company’s information can be easily spread and shared through different devices, work locations, and connections. This is why you need security that can help to decrease your company’s risk exposure, by protecting all of the private information. 

Create an Online Community

Jason Wong, CEO Building Blocks

The workplace is one big community and hub for employees. However, if your company decides to go hybrid, this does not mean that the community should go away or be distanced. Instead, this provides opportunities to build an even stronger community online, where employees can use tools like Slack to communicate and to form bonds with teammates. 

Hold Weekly or Bi-Weekly One-on-Ones

Jared Hines, Head of Operations Acre Gold

In a hybrid work environment, it is important to spend time regularly checking in on your employees. This will help to nurture your employees and will help to keep communication strong throughout your company. If employees see their leaders making an effort to stay connected and communicate, this type of thinking will spread and will be better practiced by all. Holding weekly or bi-weekly one on ones is a great way to ensure that there is always an open line of communication amongst leaders and employees, and this will serve the people in your company well.  

Encourage Visibility 

Jeff Meeks, VP of Sales and Marketing EnergyFit

With the pandemic changing the way people work, Zoom has played a large role in businesses during the past couple of years. One way to help your employees to get the most out of a hybrid workplace is to encourage visibility. You can do this by normalizing web-cams during in-person meetings. Exposure and face-to-face contact goes hand in hand with inclusion and making people feel a part of something. Not to mention, this will help to level out the playing field in regard to fairness. This will also help to ensure that every person is equal, whether at a meeting in-person, or virtually. 

Be Flexible

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft

Over the past year, no area has undergone a more rapid transformation than the way we work. Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.

Give People Freedom

Sir Richard Branson, Founder Virgin Atlantic

We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they’re at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.

Final Words

All in all, remember that the key to a successful hybrid workplace begins with communication, and is all about staying flexible. Be sure to take time and listen to your employees, and create a schedule that works well for your team. If you follow these tips and tricks, your employees will enjoy the change of having a new hybrid workplace and productivity levels should increase like never before.

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