As COVID-19 has changed life in the US nearly overnight, many firms are facing a business continuity event like nothing they’ve ever seen. Coupled with our probable entry into a recession, this event will change the face of work in America.
Remote work is stepping into the spotlight, but it comes with challenges. Many firms have solved some of those challenges – file sharing, conferencing, etc. – but not all of them together in one platform. Fortunately, there are tools available now that make working remotely seamless for firms that put strategic thought into supporting a remote or hybrid workforce. Microsoft Teams stands at the center of this revolution and is ready to solve the issues of firms who suddenly find themselves struggling to be productive.
Teams is a Microsoft cloud product and integrates with one’s Microsoft Office login, so no need for a new password to store. Access is easily segmented within Teams by the creation of … teams. Each team is accessed by members, so users only see the teams to which they have access.
Further, Teams is included with Office 365 – which most firms run nowadays – so if your firm is suddenly scrambling today to deploy something, then look no further.
Finally, it can be accessed online, on a desktop application, or a phone app, so it’s readily available to say the least.
Document Collaboration and Storage
Teams uses cloud-based storage, which is always available online. It syncs seamlessly to one’s own computer with just a few clicks. File storage is segmented by team and channel (a subgroup within a team), so users only access documents to appropriate teams and channels.
Documents can be accessed by multiple users concurrently, so there’s no need to shuffle “hot copies” around like it’s 2008.
Messaging (Groups and Individual)
Teams allows the creation of messages both in IM-style chats (to individuals and groups), and in more public capacities through channel posts. This is a fantastic place for team-based collaboration. And yes, as a modern tool, there are plenty of opportunities to communicate via emoji, gif, sticker, what have you. Welcome to the 2020s.
Meetings and Calls
The piece that has gotten overlooked the most based on our conversations with clients is meetings. Teams meetings are available ad hoc and scheduled, and integrate seamlessly with one’s Outlook calendar. Guests outside of the organization can be invited, just like any other conferencing tool.
Meetings are video enabled, offer background blurring – a feature that is about to become a must for home-based work – screen sharing, chats, and even a shared whiteboard. It’s the next-best thing to being on site.
Calls to co-workers – audio or video – can be made directly through teams and with the mobile app, calls can be taken on one’s mobile phone.
Recessions have a way of shaking things up in the workforce. Typically, that means doing more with fewer people, because people are such a large expense. Since our last recession, cloud technology has changed what is possible in terms of connectivity and collaboration. We believe that the environment is ripe for major changes to how people are employed. Technologies like Teams will enable more remote work, more part-time work, and more flexible work arrangements. Firms who see this week’s reshuffling of the nation as an opportunity to embrace that will stand a better chance of retaining talent through the next cycle.