Working for a flexible technology organization that focuses on assisting organizations in collaborating, I am lucky enough to work from home often. While my husband, who goes into work more often than I and is amazed by my productivity level using Microsoft Teams, neither of us could conceive of the phrase Social Distancing, or that everyone we work with would be working from home too.
Having worked with Microsoft Teams since its inception, I was amazed when Microsoft released that the incredible 44 million daily active users (DAUs) is up 20% from November 2019! From students, front-line workers, NGO’s, we are actively working using on Microsoft Teams.
Here are my observations of Social Distancing Weeks 1 and 2:
- Home network speeds have not been so kind. My security conscious and IOT enthusiast colleague, Shaune Donohue, has taken bandwidth matters into his owns hands. I surveyed him about what he has done to improve his at home bandwidth experience:
“Because of my child who is a heavy gamer as well as streaming video while watching games, on top of a lot of network related items in the house, security cameras, Google home, thermostat all on the internet, I noticed significant impact on performance while I am in meetings. You only have so much bandwidth coming into the house. I added an extra Wi-Fi router, and isolated the 2 traffic points. I have a dedicated work WIFI SID so it doesn’t impact my work and I don’t have to worry about network shaping. Keep in mind your cell phones are also on your network. There is only so much traffic that be streamed across a single Wi-Fi network”.For organizations who have little to no control over their employees’ connection situation, I advise you to immediately show staff how to test their connection, understand the role household items have and number of people hitting their network. I currently have a client who has offices and staff in most continents and has equipped their staff with a clear checklist calling it “Are you remote ready?”
- Late majority and laggards hopped on the train. Most of our clients who are in the Information Technology group are early adopters for Microsoft Teams. At some point each organization has to decide, should we pilot Microsoft Teams or should we open it up to everyone and enforce. Due to global crisis, the laggards were forced to adopt and use Microsoft Teams once and for all. We also have several clients who were unsure which teamwork tools to use and due to the crisis, Microsoft Teams just made sense and was simple. If you have Office 365 it’s the simple answer. There are several resources online for helping anyone transitioning from Skype for Business as first-time users from etiquette to features.
- Difficulties concentrating. Whether staff have families, or are sitting down all day in meetings, it is tough to focus especially when accustomed to movement and action in office space. What has helped me stay accountable is turning my camera on, this way I am highly aware of the camera being on. Also, if you have worked with your colleagues long enough, you can tell their level of engagement. You can ask a simple question such as “Are you with me?” In this, there are hindrances that you need to watch out for, including group thinking that can easily happen. Luckily Microsoft Teams will soon come out with simple solution of raising a virtual hand to make a point.
Can you still achieve a high performing team?
Telework is about discovering our individual strengths and weaknesses. Yet, we must know how to work with each other and encourage engagement. As someone who wants to develop and sustain high performing teams, I am constantly thinking about being agile, mindful of others on calls – making sure opinions and thoughts are communicated. Some key characteristics for high performing teams include:
- Focus on results
- Self- Direction
While this is ideal during non-crisis time, it is important to adjust work level realistically.
Microsoft Teams provides an array of opportunities. Here are 2 simple tips for inclusivity and engagements:
- Praise your colleagues. Using the built-in Praise Function. Did you have a challenge another colleague was able to solve? Did you complete a milestone? Did you learn something new? Praise your colleague.
- Get Feedback Anonymously. Working remote in masses can mean some people will feel left out or will not have their voice heard. If you are a manager, send your team a survey with the anonymous feature turned on, this way people can feel comfortable to add feedback. Microsoft Teams allows surveys through Microsoft Forms, a tool similar to and simpler than SurveyMonkey.
- Being Mindful. Entering a state of chaos, we cannot simply expect everyone to work at the same exact performance as we once have. In order to have successful output, we need to adjust by re-prioritizing work until there is some order and balance. If you force the same pace and performance as prior to COVID-19, as a result of law of diminishing returns, the output will decrease.
Social distancing is not normal “Working from Home”, as listed above there are many factors that play into its success. Both on an organizational scale and a personal level, I’ve found that we need to take a step back and not think of everything being normal. In order for all to be successful in our output, we must tune into our Emotional Intelligence and all of our senses. I’m going to change my habits; we will continue to help organizations. Hopefully this article will help with how you can do the same.
Coming soon! Microsoft Teams is introducing two exciting features in the near future!
- Real-time noise suppression. Remember all those times hearing someone type on their keyboard, or their computer fan?
- Hand-raising feature. My favorite! It can be awkward trying to find a time to jump in especially when two people are passionately brainstorming (or in confrontation).
For more tips on remote work, view this infographic.
Need help engaging your employees or setting up Microsoft Teams? Reach out to us.
Digital and Technology Transformation