How to Leverage Microsoft Teams For Your Remote Workforce

Empower Your Employees to Stay Protected & Engaged While Working From Home

The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak has organizations rapidly ramping up to operate remotely and asking their employees to work from home.

However, many organizations are faced with a sudden challenge — do they have the right systems in place to make this happen?

If that sounds challenge sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. But providing your remote workers with the right tools and resources is key to helping them stay connected, productive, and secure — no matter their location or device.

So where do you start?

Consider Microsoft Teams as Your Virtual Office for Remote Workers

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve been helping our clients roll out Microsoft Teams to increase collaboration and teamwork across their global workforce.

Microsoft Teams is a widely used platform that you can deploy to keep your organization running safely and securely in a virtual environment. It provides a single workplace where people can actively connect, meet, and collaborate in real-time – all in one place. With this solution, your employees can remain productive while maintaining the necessary level of security and control over your organization’s resources. For your remote workers, it can provide functionality including:

  • Voice calls, video calls, and online meetings between your organization and external contacts.
  • Chat and instant messaging between either groups or individuals in your organization.
  • Secure document collaboration, sharing, and storage.

Additional advantages for remote working include:

Centralized Communication & Collaboration
Microsoft Teams functions as a self-contained and virtual, secure workplace. It eliminates the need to switch between applications and devices for collaboration, email, text messages, and phone calls throughout the day. By using one connected platform, you can avoid the risk of shadow IT, unsecured file sharing, and loss of organizational intellectual property.

Online Meetings with Anyone Inside or Outside Your Organization
Your workforce can hold online meetings with audio, video, and web conferences with anyone inside or outside your organization. Even while working remotely, employees can run effective meetings and have the ability to blur backgrounds, use live captioning, and control meeting roles and permissions. Meetings can be recorded in case people are unable to attend so they can catch up later and not feel left out.

Staying Connected with Video
Employees can meet face-to-face even if they aren’t in the same location via one-on-one or group video chats and meetings. Face to face interaction goes a long way to help everyone feel more connected.

Keeping Employees Engaged with Chat
Online chats keep employees engaged with casual conversations. Emojis, Gifs, and stickers can help keep chatter fun and light.

Securely Collaborate & Co-Author Documents
Employees and teams can securely coauthor documents, share a screen for fast-paced decision making, collaborate on shared deliverables, and share documents without using email.

Easy IT Administration
Microsoft Teams is designed with IT in mind and provides management capabilities for collaboration, meetings, callings, and apps in one place with simple administration.

Check out this video to see many of these functionalities in action »

How Quickly Can Microsoft Teams Be Deployed?

The short answer is  – it depends. But don’t let that answer dismay you. Determining how to deploy it and how long it will take several factors.

Here are three common scenarios:

  • You have Office 365 but haven’t turned on Microsoft Teams.
  • You have Office 365 and have turned on Microsoft Teams, but it isn’t widely used.
  • You do not have Office 365 but want to roll out Teams.

For more advanced capabilities to support a large-scale use of all the collaboration, meetings, and document collaboration functionalities, it would take longer to deploy.

If you are considering deploying Microsoft Teams, here are some resources for guidance to start planning:

Support Remote Workers Using Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams FAQ: Support Your Remote Workforce

Welcome to Microsoft Teams: For Microsoft Teams Admins

Microsoft Teams IT Architecture Poster [PDF]

Privacy & Security in Microsoft Teams

Our Team is Here to Help

At Xgility, we know what it takes to get Microsoft Teams quickly set up and deployed to your workforce.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, our team has been helping our clients of all sizes successfully roll out Microsoft Teams with unprecedented adoption rates. Let’s talk to learn how our team get can help you started with Microsoft Teams. Contact Us Now »

10 Tips for Employees Using Microsoft Teams While Working Remotely

In response to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak, organizations around the world are asking their employees to work from home and to use collaboration and meeting platforms like Microsoft Teams to stay connected for online meetings and chats.

If your organization has already rolled out Microsoft teams for calls, meetings, online chats, and collaboration, that’s good news. You may have already been using it throughout your workday at your office.

However, if you are new to working at home, you may discover that you need to find new ways to communicate and collaborate with your teams and co-workers in ways that you didn’t from the office. Based on our own experience and working with our clients, we’ve put together a list of recommendations for ways to use Microsoft Teams as you adjust to your remote work style.

Consider Microsoft Teams as your virtual office that has the tools you need all in one place and that you can take anywhere you go.

But first, this may a great time to refresh yourself with the Microsoft Teams platform and features. Check out this quick interactive demo to learn the basics » 

10 Tips for Using Microsoft Teams while Working Remotely

Here are ten tips to help stay you stay connected, engaged, and productive using Microsoft Teams.

  1. Communicate with Online Chats
    While you may not be able to talk in the office, you can still chat directly with your coworkers or check in with team members either with individual or group chats. Learn how »
  2. Stay Connected with Video
    You can still meet face-to-face with your coworkers – even if you aren’t in the same location – with video conferencing. It’s a great way to still feel like you are connected to your team as well as to avoid feeling isolated.
  3. Embrace Online Meetings
    Make sure all meetings include a virtual “join” option so that team members can join from wherever they are working. Turn video on so your team can interact face to face, feel more connected, and avoid confusion that can occur when there are no visual cues to help you interpret conversations.
  4. Don’t Forget the Background Blur Tools
    Make sure you are the main focus when using video for meetings and chats. Use the Background Blur so you will appear nice and clear while everything behind you is subtly concealed to avoid embarrassing distractions. Learn how »
  5. Record Your Meetings
    When you start a meeting, hit “record.” Team members who aren’t able to join can watch later or search the automatically generated transcript for important information. That way, people can easily review anything they missed or need to be repeated. Learn how »
  6. Share Your Screen
    Share your screen for easier collaboration and faster decision making. It can help your team feel connected to projects that you’re working on together. Learn how »
  7. Set Your Status Message
    You can set up a status message in Teams so your team and coworkers know what you are up to and when they can reach you. FYI: If you have a status message set in Teams, it will not show your automatic out-of-office reply that you’ve set in Microsoft Outlook. Learn how »
  8. Stay Organized with Planner
    Use Planner as part of your team structure – add it as a tab in Team’s General section. Planner makes it easy for your team to stay organized, assign tasks, and keep track of your progress. Learn how »
  9. Use the New Target Tags
    Avoid typing in everyone’s name in a post with new target tags. Use target tags to message everyone assigned to a specific tag at the same time – simply @mention the tag name in a post. Learn how »
  10. Be Social
    Think about chat messages as your virtual watercooler and set yourself a reminder to check in with people regularly. Use emojis, Gifs, and stickers to help keep the chatter fun and light. Try ice breakers in team chats like what’s everyone’s favorite Netflix show right now.

We understand that every individual and team works differently. But hope the tips from our team helps you stay productive and connected as you adjust to a new way of working.

Additional Resources:
We’ve also rounded up some additional resources to help you get the most out of Microsoft Teams:

Microsoft Teams Video Training

Microsoft’s End User Training for Microsoft Teams

Staying Productive While Working Remotely with Microsoft Teams

 

Microsoft Teams.

Roundup of Key Microsoft Team Features Announced at Microsoft Ignite

At the Ignite 2018 conference last week, Microsoft revealed that Microsoft Teams is now the fastest growing business app in Microsoft’s history and announced several powerful new capabilities to foster teamwork and collaboration.

As we help more of our clients strategically rollout and adopt Microsoft Teams, it is exciting to learn that many of the new features will help fill the gaps our clients have needed – particularly around security, compliance, and data loss prevention.

According to our Office 365 and Microsoft Teams strategy guru, JoAnna Battin, here are several of the new features and functionalities she says our clients will be happy to see rollout for both their Teams end users and Teams administrators.

NEW FEATURES FOR MICROSOFT TEAMS END USERS

New Meeting features:

Our team is particularly excited about the new artificial intelligence (AI) powered meeting features including background blur and meeting recording. Background Blur uses facial detection to blur your background during video meetings, and Meeting Recording allows you to playback recorded meeting content at any time with captions and a searchable, timecoded transcript.

Access your Yammer community via a tab in Teams:

You can include relevant Yammer groups directly in Teams for easy monitoring and engagement by adding them as a tab in any of your team channels. No more going back and forth between Teams and Yammer!

Enrich your private chat experience with screen sharing:

Need to quickly show someone your screen, but don’t have time for a call? You can now share your entire desktop or a specific window directly from a private chat session. You can even let them take control to collaborate on content together.

NEW FUNCTIONALITY FOR MICROSOFT TEAMS ADMINISTRATORS

Enhanced Security & Compliance Features for Messaging:

For organizations with enhanced security and compliance needs, Microsoft is releasing two new secure messaging features. With Image Annotation, users can capture images, annotate, and share them on a secure platform. IT Admins can set policies to prevent images from being stored on a mobile device or local drive. As we mentioned, Priority Notifications will alert a recipient to an urgent message and automatically notify the recipient every two minutes for up to twenty minutes – it is scheduled to roll out by the end of this year to all Teams commercial customers.

Microsoft announced that these capabilities support HIPAA compliance, and enable clinicians to communicate about patients while avoiding the privacy risks that arise when healthcare professionals use consumer chat apps. In addition to the healthcare sector, we are excited to help our clients in other fields use these features to protect their security.

Microsoft Teams Urgent Message Notification.Microsoft Teams Urgent Message Notification.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in Teams will enable you to identify, monitor, and automatically protect sensitive information:

With DLP, you can soon create policies directly from the Security and Compliance Center to prevent sensitive information – credit card numbers, social security numbers, or health records – from being shared or leaking unintentionally. Policies will apply to both messages shared in private chat and channel conversations. Files that are shared in channels and private chats will be covered by SharePoint and OneDrive for Business DLP policies. User messages that contain the specified sensitive information will be blocked based on the DLP policy you create with options for the sender to override and send the message and/or report false positives. Stay tuned for more details.

Microsoft Teams SCC Policy configuration.

SCC Policy Configuration

Manage your teams directly from the Admin Center:

According to JoAnna, this is huge! Administrators will have the insights into Teams that they never had before.

A list of all teams in your organization is now available directly in the Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Admin Center. Simply click on “Teams” in the left navigation and select “Manage Teams” to see this list. From here, you can manage membership, add or remove channels, and change settings. Additionally, you can quickly create a new team, customize it, and add members allowing you to better support your users.

Microsoft Teams Admin Center Manager.

Microsoft Teams Admin Center Manager View

Manage your team membership with dynamic groups:

We are excited about this feature – you can reduce your administrative overhead of adding and removing users by creating teams from Office 365 groups with a dynamic membership rule. For these groups, membership is managed dynamically based on user’s Azure Active Directory (AAD) attributes. Thus, when a user’s AAD attributes change, they will be added or removed automatically from the team based on the dynamic membership rules defined by the administrator. All Office 365 groups can continue to be managed directly from the Azure Admin portal. Teams will support the creation of teams from Dynamic Groups in the coming months. Learn more about dynamic groups here.

Replicate your best Team’s experience with Templates:

Finally, a real template experience!

Have you found a team setup that works best for a type of project or workstyle? You soon will be able to easily create new teams based on best practices and lessons learned by leveraging a new REST endpoint as part of the Microsoft Graph API. With Team Templates, you’ll be able to pre-define a team’s channels, apps, and tabs that can help you easily create consistent teams across your organization. You can also define team settings and auto-favorite channels, allowing your team owners to focus on collaborations rather than spending time setting up the team.

Boost your productivity with a tighter integration between Teams and SharePoint:

You’ll soon be able to enjoy the full capabilities of SharePoint libraries in your file tab with features like creating a custom view and pinning a document to the top. Additionally, you will have the ability to add SharePoint lists and SharePoint Framework web parts as tabs in your team’s channel.

Those new features will provide new ways to aggregate information between SharePoint and Teams.

Read the official Microsoft Teams announcements from Ignite: What’s New in Teams – Ignite Edition

Let us help your organization create a culture of collaboration and teamwork with Office 365 tools including Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint, Yammer, and more.
Contact us to learn more »