As one of London’s leading remote IT support teams, we know how the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown has been an unprecedented challenge for the small to medium-sized business community in the Capital and right across the UK. Many businesses have had to pivot overnight to enable their staff to work from home and now working remotely looks set to become the ‘new normal.’ But for your team to be able to work from home successfully and securely, you have to have the right technology and the right remote IT support partner in place. Microsoft Teams has proven itself a key enabler of people working from home. So, in case you haven’t discovered the many benefits of this collaborative platform yet, in this article we’re going to explain how Microsoft Teams can help you and your staff to work remotely.

How Microsoft Teams can help you work remotely – successfully, safely and securely

For a technology platform to empower your people to work from home successfully, it must provide the tools they’re used to using in-house AND keep them as cyber safe and secure as they’d expect to be in the office. Microsoft Teams delivers on both these fronts. In the few years since it’s debut, it has proven highly popular and is now widely used by businesses across the world. Plus it has cybersecurity at its heart, designed and built-in. That’s how Microsoft Teams can help you and your people work remotely.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a Cloud-based platform that’s been designed to improve productivity, communication, messaging and ultimately teamwork and collaboration in the workplace and for those working remotely. It was launched in March 2017 and by April 2020 the company was claiming the platform had 75 million daily active users.

Microsoft Teams provides file sharing, task organisation and real-time collaboration on everything from documents and spreadsheets to presentations. It’s supported on Windows, Mac and iOS and Android devices and provides ‘anywhere, anytime, any device’ access for your people, as long as they can connect to Wi-Fi and the Internet.

An added benefit is that it’s also easy to integrate Microsoft Teams with third-party services such as MailChimp, Facebook Pages and Twitter.

What is the key advantage of Microsoft Teams?

As remote IT support and Microsoft experts, we’d say that Teams’ magical ingredient is that it brings together many essential tools and daily activities and processes into one place.

All documents connected to a project can be securely stored – and worked on by a number of people simultaneously, without the danger of overwriting – making everything accessible to those that need it. Your team simply has to log into the one platform to access and edit documents, message colleagues, host audio or video calls and meetings, and much more besides.

What’s more, if your people are already familiar with commonplace programmes like Word, Excel and other Office 365 products, they’ll quickly get used to working with Teams as all these can be used within it. In fact, there are many other third-party popular apps you and your team will be used to using, which can also be integrated with Teams.

How can Microsoft Teams help my people work remotely?

This is one of the questions regarding Microsoft Teams we are most frequently asked as we provide managed IT support in London and beyond. So here are just some of our favourite features that enable your people to work from home – successfully, safely and securely.

Document collaboration

Your team can access all the Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents they need and edit them in real-time. And even when changes are being made by several users at once, the updates are automatically synced so no one has to worry about over-writing information, or version control. Complete documents can then be moved to your main file sharing app or system for secure storage.

Instant messaging

Like Slack – which Microsoft originally considered acquiring – the Teams messaging system is the ideal way for your people to communicate with each other and their managers. It’s especially useful for keeping those working remotely connected and up to speed with everything. Many businesses (some of our IT support clients amongst them) have actually gone on to replace their internal e-mail with Teams messaging. 

Screen sharing

Teams enables your people to share screens, even if they are working miles apart, which is ideal for driving real-time collaboration. Screens can be shared one-to-one or in a meeting setting between lots of attendees on a group call. The point is that everyone sees the same screen, as if they were sitting together.

Video chat and conference calling

With Microsoft Teams a meeting couldn’t be easier to organise and host. People can choose whether to make their meetings via audio or video calls. You can hold meetings with just a colleague or several participants and the platform has many tools to make online gatherings easy and productive. These include recording the meeting for later playback, messaging each other to ask questions without interrupting the speaker and screen sharing capabilities.

How Teams, Channels and Tabs work in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is highly intuitive and most find it easy and enjoyable to use. Understanding the hierarchy within Teams is key to using it effectively and this is organised in three main ways: Teams, Channels and Tabs. Here is a quick explanation of each:

Teams

Teams brings together people who work collaboratively on a project, the content they need to do so and the tools they need to do the job successfully all in one place. This enables them to focus on particular projects or goals within a small group, the whole department or enterprise-wide. 

When your people create a team, they can choose to make it private and only invite certain colleagues or they can create a public team which anyone (well, up to 5,000 people!) within the organisation can join.

Channels

The cornerstone of Microsoft Teams, Channels are sections within a team where, for example, conversations can be organised, meetings held or documents shared for action. This is the kind of space where smaller tasks and activities relating to the bigger project picture take place. 

Tabs

Tabs make it fast and easy for your people to find the information they want. However, for simplicity and clarity, it’s important that people only create the tabs you really need so that they don’t clutter a channel with unnecessary information. Useful tabs might include:

  • Files tab – a place where all the files are stored (ideally in a sensible folder structure) for fast finding and retrieval within a channel.
  • Web page tab – a central place to put all the tabs for web pages that a team visits frequently. The more a team uses the same external websites, the easier it is to keep their activities consistent.
  • Individual file tab – create an individual file tab for frequently used documents.

How do we use Teams most effectively and efficiently?

Based on our experience of delivering IT support to a wide range of clients in a variety of sectors, if you and your remote working colleagues want to get the very best from this innovative platform, you should try these suggestions:

Create an effective Team and Channel structure

  • Only create teams when you need to and discuss it with colleagues before you do – a channel within an existing team might be enough.
  • Encourage staff to leave teams they no longer need to be in, just confirm it with the team leader first.
  • Simplicity is key, only add channels if they’re really needed.
  • Once a team member is no longer interested in a channel, they should hide them – they can always refer back to it and catch up later.
  • The general channel is a great place for miscellaneous (off project or outside channel) discussions.
  • Don’t overcrowd work channels, create separate channels for discussing social or fun stuff.

 Manage conversations

  • We know it sounds daft to say it, but when replying to a discussion use the ‘reply’ feature. If anyone adds to the base of a discussion, it will start a new conversation.
  • Use the @ mention feature to direct a message to everyone that needs to read it, so important communications are not missed.
  • Do not @ mention an entire team or channel unless necessary, otherwise a lot of busy people’s time is wasted.
  • Use subject lines – and stick with them – in conversations to make content easier to find later.
  • When a channel is marked in bold, it indicates that there is an unread post in the channel for one of your colleagues to read.

 Organise files and documents efficiently

  • Keep file sizes to less than 15GB.
  • Send links to documents rather than attaching the document.
  • Keep your folder structure simple to reduce complexity and prevent files and folders exceeding the system’s size limits, so don’t put too many levels in the Files tab.
  • Once a project’s complete and files and folders are no longer needed, shift them to your organisation’s main file sharing platform for security, ease of access and document management.

How cyber secure is Microsoft Teams?

In Microsoft’s own words, ‘Teams is built on the Office 365 hyper-scale, enterprise-grade Cloud, delivering the advanced security and compliance capabilities our customers expect.’ The company classifies Office 365 into four basic compliance categories: A, B, C, and D, with Teams fitting into category ‘D’ which means it enables security compliance services by default.

From a remote IT support and cybersecurity expertise perspective, we’d add that Microsoft Teams has several in-built digital defence features to keep your IT infrastructure, data, IP, confidential customer information, compliance and hard earned reputation safe from harm; these include:

  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • Single sign-on (SSO) via Active Directory.
  • Secure guest access.
  • Automatic encryption of data in transit and at-rest.

So we’d say that Microsoft Teams is a safe and secure platform, particularly so for those in your business who work from home.

Who are expert at Microsoft Teams?

The team at WFH IT Support (short for Work From Home IT Support!) is highly experienced and expert in Microsoft Teams and keeping a business and its people cyber safe. In fact, we’re accredited Microsoft Partners and certified to the renowned Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 standards.

We’ve helped numerous clients implement Microsoft Teams, migrate to the platform or integrate it into their systems to enable their people to work remotely.

WFH IT Support was actually established to provide IT support to businesses whose people work at home – wherever they are in the UK – and use Cloud-based solutions, such as Microsoft 365 or Google Google Workspace.

WFH IT Support is an integral part of the totality services team, one of most trusted IT support partner companies in London and our technical professionals have earned two consecutive Feefo Gold Trusted Service Awards, Five Star ratings from both Trustpilot and Google, a 98% client retention rate

Why not give London’s go to remote IT support team a call for a confidential, no obligation chat about the many benefits Microsoft Teams can offer your enterprise?

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