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Remote working via Teams: 3 best practices

Mar 20, 2020

The coronavirus/COVID-19 has caught us all by surprise: all of a sudden, working remotely has become the norm instead of the exception. Understandably, the lack of a solid governance framework and learning curve – remember that luxury? – can cause confusion. In these trying times, the Digital Workplace team at delaware offers its insights and best practices – and a direct line for all your questions and concerns.  

The Digital Workplace team has years of experience getting companies started with remote working technologies – including within their own company. “In the past few years, we have set up the infrastructure to allow everyone to work remotely, Microsoft Teams has been deployed throughout the entire company, et cetera,” explains Serge Desaranno, manager at delaware. “The switch from working together at the delaware offices to everyone working remotely at home due to COVID-19 has gone quite smoothly. After all,  the ‘new way of working’ isn’t that new to the #peopleofdelaware.”

While every company is different, the team often sees the same kind of questions and challenges pop up in every project. As a result, Serge and his team have amassed a wealth of best practices and insights on organizing remote working, for both companies and individual employees. “We understand the challenge many organizations are facing today – even if they already have a system like Office 365 or Microsoft Teams in place. However, with some key guidelines, they can stave off confusion and chaos and safeguard efficiency as much as possible.”

Rule #1: Make clear agreements

Without face-to-face interaction, there is a lot more space for misunderstandings. Your team can eliminate this by setting a couple of ground rules, including:

  • Keeping shared agendas (Outlook or others) updated at all times.
  • Using your Teams status indication, like ‘busy’, ‘available’ and ‘do not disturb’, correctly. You can change your status in the top-right corner.
  • Agree on the use of tools: conference calling for all via Teams, with video enabled by default.
  • Keeping all team-related collaboration in one Team and using private channels within that team for specific projects, instead of creating a new team for each one. 
  • Respecting the purpose of each channel to avoid confusion and improve the speed of finding content. 

Rule #2: Pick the right communication channel

Without the option of simply walking over to your colleague’s desk or setting up an in-person meeting, the question remains: how can I best communicate with my colleagues? 

  • General announcements, knowledge sharing, practical questions: post it in a Team’s public channel. 
  • Announcements that are relevant for a subset of colleagues, like staff or CLT: publish your post in a subteam (corresponding to a private channel), or set up a Teams meeting.
  • Announcement for a limited number of people, e.g. concerning a specific project: post in the project-related Team, or start a group chat or a Teams meeting.
  • A one-to-one announcement or a short question: hit the chat button, or… just give them a call. 

 

Tips!

  • Group chat dragging on? Start a conference or video call to save everybody some time and clear things up quickly.
  • Missing someone in the group chat or call? You can add them on the fly during the call by hitting the button in the top-right corner below your own profile picture.
 

Rule #3: Hold regular team meetings, but keep it efficient

Frequent interactions at team level are very important when working remotely. You can increase their efficiency by respecting a few ground rules:

  • Keep it short: presentations, for example, should be shortened as much as possible, as the attention span for remote listening is shorter than in face-to-face interactions. Try to stay within the indicated time slot. 
  • Use the mute button if you’re listening to someone giving a presentation to keep ambient noise and echo out.
  • Keep the cameras rolling to increase the sense of togetherness and increase the amount of non-verbal communication. 
  • Use the Microsoft Whiteboard functionality in Teams to replace your trusted flipchart and sketch ideas and visuals in real time. Don’t forget that you can also share your screen to show colleagues what you are talking about. 
  • Record the meeting for people who couldn’t attend, and store it within the Teams space.

 

Tips!

Play around first, structure it later

While these rules won’t magically make the sudden shift to remote working a breeze, keeping them in mind can help to work out some of the initial kinks. Serge: “This is an exceptional time, but it’s also an opportunity for many companies to help their employees get acquainted with Teams and other remote platforms. In a few weeks, these struggles will result in valuable insights in how to set up infrastructure and a good framework to reflect your organization’s unique needs.”

You can reach out to our team with your most pressing concerns about remote working.

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