Microsoft Teams - Meeting and home office solution not only in times of crisis
// by Matthias Rensing
Change Management, IT & Management Consulting, Organizational Development, People & Culture
The future of the workplace is now: Working at the Modern Workplace
The change from classic office work to completely decentralized teams is accelerating massively in times of "social distance". The measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) show the old system its limits. Employers must go digital with immediate effect and must not lose sight of the social aspects. The inflexible workplace with desktop PCs is old hat and companies must rethink. Despite all the agility and flexibility that has already been developed in some cases, it is still necessary to constantly develop further. The digital networking of employees is a valuable asset that is increasingly coming into focus. What many companies lack is a plan.
Meetings with Microsoft teams
At a time when people should not come closer than two metres and companies are trying to keep employees in their home offices working head over heels, the traditional central workspaces are proving to be outdated and unsuitable. noventum consulting, as an IT management consultancy, reacted very quickly to the circumstances and sent all employees to their home offices. The responsible persons only had to think about which channels should be used and how regularly contact should be established in order to depict the important work structures largely without loss. The Microsoft Gold Partner noventum decided on the products that are part of Microsoft teams. As a consultancy for corporate culture issues and a multiple award-winning "Great Place to Work", noventum has always considered social aspects to play a major role in this far-reaching change.
Challenges for the home office
Meetings with up to 20 people are not the only challenge that many companies are currently facing. The issues at the Modern Workplace are beyond that:
- How can we continue to foster social interaction?
- How can large events such as staff meetings be held?
- How can employees maintain their work-life balance who are at home / home office 24 hours a day?
- How can teams structure their work and collaborate with each other?
Social interaction need not suffer
noventum has set up a virtual coffee corner in Microsoft teams for its more than 110 employees, where colleagues can dial in when they are taking a break.
To this end, all employees of the company were initially invited to join a Microsoft team, in which regular meetings take place that can be joined at any time. The great thing about this is that you can see who is already virtually on site before you visit. This means that anyone can join in for just a quick coffee if they have technical questions for a group of people or a specific person. Just as if the colleagues in the company bistro were meeting at the coffee machine.
Even large events can be realized digitally
For the staff meeting with almost 100 participants and 11 speakers, noventum also relied on Microsoft teams. For this, there is a so-called live event, where a producer takes over the direction. In addition to this role, there are also the speakers who prepare the presentations for the meeting. So each speaker sits in his or her own office or home office and releases his or her presentation for the live event. This then appears on the producer's monitor, who can then switch it live for all participants one after the other. A simple principle that works very well after a few compliance settings. A handy advantage of a Microsoft Team Live Event is that all participants are muted by default and no one can activate their microphone except the current presenter. Especially if teams have not yet practiced handling large digital events with each other, this can be a helpful restriction at the beginning. For requests to speak, an MS Teams Live event has a "Q&A" function, i.e. "questions and answers", so anyone can ask questions or make comments in writing. The producer and the speaker answer the questions and then release them for everyone. This avoids that questions are displayed multiple times and the participants lose the overview and thus also the attention for the presentation.
Work without end? Home office brings clear boundaries!
One danger of lively digital interaction is that meetings are timed very closely and the working day has no break and no end. Even in classic office life, there are short breaks in which not only work is discussed. These short breaks occur because you are still waiting for participants of a meeting or event or because you are having a nice conversation with someone on the way across the corridor. And at some point people leave their workplace and go home. If the home office finds no time limit and people are theoretically available and willing to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, family catastrophe is inevitable. Partners and family are also grateful for clear boundaries between work and leisure. Companies for whom the work-life balance of their employees is important give themselves well thought-out communication rules. To ensure a good work-life balance, colleagues use the granular notification settings of the MS Teams Desktop App. These actively signal whether the employee is busy, can communicate or has logged off. In addition, it is possible to define personal rest periods in the mobile app on the mobile phone during which all team notifications are muted.
Collaboration on channels and in versions
Microsoft Teams offers the possibility to create a separate team for each topic with a specific group of people and in these teams, in turn, individual channels, which usually include the same group of people. Within a channel you can write, call, share files, etc. with the team. The most important thing, however, is the Microsoft Planner, which can be integrated into any channel. In this tool, for example, a virtual Kanban board can be set up. So the tasks are assigned to the respective responsible persons or the team members draw the tasks themselves. In a video call, MS teams can discuss who will take over which task and what questions are still to be answered. Just like in the physical Weekly or also Daily in the office. In addition, each individual can organise themselves as they like it best. Most colleagues at noventum use Microsoft To-Do for this purpose, as it can be synchronized on Windows 10 devices and smartphones. Also, the tasks assigned to colleagues in a planner are directly visible in this tool. For this purpose the marked e-mails are also displayed and there is the possibility to create own To-Do lists and group them.
Not only does Microsoft give teams the ability to continue working together and coordinating tasks across physical distances, but also to always have the latest version of a document. For example, if a presentation is to be prepared for the staff meeting, everyone involved can work on it simultaneously in PowerPoint. The same applies to Word and Excel documents or OneNote notebooks.
The Corona crisis has forced many companies to act quickly, and in many places the transition from office work to completely decentralised work was not as well thought out as many companies and employees would have liked. However, the lack of alternatives and the speed of change is also an opportunity - it gives companies the opportunity to inspire their employees to find new ways of working together and to equip them for the future at record speed. The needs and experiences of employees should be regularly listened to, because it is they who experience all the advantages and disadvantages in the crisis. Digital corporate communication and organisation can become a real joint effort.
A Webinar for a quick start
noventum consulting has long been advising companies and institutions on the introduction of Microsoft Teams and other tools for collaboration and communication. In a webinar on the subject a few days ago, noventum experts introduced more than 400 interested parties to the world of Microsoft collaboration tools and demonstrated how a quick introduction to this topic is rewarded by quick success and what to look out for.
A recording of the webinar is available on Youtube. For specific questions, colleagues from the "IT Technology Consulting" and "Culture Change Management" teams can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone on 02506 93020.
noventum consulting GmbH