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12 March 2020

Five ways to work remotely with Microsoft Teams

All the gear but no idea? Make the most of working remotely with our top tips for Microsoft Teams.

Working from home – for some a way of professional life, for others a necessity on the odd occasion they need to let someone in to fix the boiler. In fact, last year BBC 5 Live revealed a 74% jump in the number of us working from home between 2008 and 2018.

That increase could be set to jump even higher as organisations consider the possibility that their employees may need to work from home in response to the changing situation around coronavirus, COVID-19.

For organisations using Office 365, Microsoft Teams is an effective way to keep teams connected while they work apart. And if your organisation doesn’t have a O365 licence, you might be interested to hear that Microsoft is temporarily making Teams free to do their bit in supporting this increased trend for remote working.

So what’s the best way to use Microsoft Teams when you’re working from home? We share our top tips for making the most of the collaboration tool.

1. Get to grips with ‘channels’ and ‘chats’

A bit like messaging apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Teams gives you options for how to connect with people.

Need to chat and collaborate with a group of colleagues? Then you need a team channel. Got a quick question for a colleague that you don’t want to share in a channel? Send them a private message in your own personal ‘chat’.

Just think of the difference between your family’s group chat to discuss your grandma’s upcoming birthday, versus your private, individual message to your sibling to moan about your aunt’s unfortunate taste in present ideas.

2. Make notifications work for you

Whether you see them as essential or a distraction, notifications are an integral part of any digital experience. You can tailor Teams so it fits the way you work by altering your notification settings.

There’s a range of options – including banner notifications (a bit like your classic email notification – appearing in the bottom-right of your screen) to getting an email every time something happens.

Unless you’re really concerned about missing something we’d recommend the former. Getting an email alert for every message and response in your channels could get old very quickly – and your inbox won’t thank you for it.

3. Work together while apart

With everyone working from their own home offices, there’s a high chance your inbox could become the place where version control went to die.

Rather than confusing your colleagues by asking them to contribute to files over email – and confusing yourself as you get five different versions of the same file back – work on documents at the same time in Teams.

Upload your file to your channel or chat and you can work together on it in real-time. You’ll see an icon when other people are editing and a coloured cursor will point out changes as they happen.

4. Don’t cancel that meeting

Hold it online instead. Invite everyone to a Teams meeting – Microsoft’s updated version of a Skype call.

Put faces to names by using your webcam (if you have one), helping to build that personal connection. You can mute your microphone when you’re not speaking (particularly handy if your pet is having a moment), share your screen with others and type questions or comments in the chat panel.

You can even record the meeting to share with people who couldn’t make it – just make everyone else aware before you hit record!

5. Keep it personal

When you’re sitting at a screen for most of the day, with little to no face-to-face time with colleagues, it can be hard to maintain that sense of camaraderie that research shows boosts our productivity, collaboration and innovation at work.

But Teams has several ways you can get your point across and make your interactions feel a bit more ‘human’.

You can use the gif and sticker icons to share messages visually and the lightbulb icon to praise a colleague for a job well done. You can also respond to individual messages with an emoji, be it a thumbs up to show that you agree or a laughing face to show that you found it funny.