Hints from Encore for Working with Teams Remotely

Now that the Encore team has been working from home for many weeks, we decided to survey our internal team members for any useful hints for working in Microsoft Teams they’d like to share with our readers. Hints range from using the collaborative tools and communicating effectively, to fun things like using gifs to lighten up meetings and chats.

Communication

“Having Teams on my cell is great in conjunction with my tablet if I need to share a picture, answer calls, or keep notified no matter what. I was communicating with a team member on my Tablet, and sent him a picture from my phone on the same thread. Works great.”

-Account Executive

“Treat it like social media! What I mean by that is use it, use it, use it! Send gifs and comment on comments – it makes things feel normal and inclusive.”

-Practice Lead

“Use the chat, call and planner board for daily team meetings.”

-Technical Specialist

Organization

“Make sure to understand the “structure” that the Team channel is organized in, check in with team members via chat or a quick video call, use gifs and emojis when appropriate because they’re fun, use the @ symbol to tag a team member in the channel if you uploaded something for them or a document needs their attention.”

-Marketing Coordinator

“It’s a tool I use to collaborate with every day. The less that I have open, the less distracting it is so having everything open on Teams makes it simpler. I have all my meetings in Teams with the ability to screen share.”

-Account Executive

“To be honest the most important feature of Teams for me is that you have a lot of different tools at your disposal here in terms of chat, calendar, calls, your recordings, OneNote all in one place. We are also using BI reports for tracking vacation, incentives and performance of individual team members which I believe is a super feature to have. Also, sharing a folder with an external team is something I use often.”

-Solution Specialist

“Here’s a technical tip to reduce CPU usage while using Teams and on video. Go to task manager and split the affinity of the Teams app across the different CPUs.”

-Project Manager

Video

“Make sure you are ready for video before you come on camera. Use the symbols in chats where you can see if your messages are delivered and/or read.”

-Manager

“Teams has easy video conferencing and file sharing. It’s important to always have it on so you can be present. There’s lots of security in Teams compared to other communication platforms.”

-Account Executive

“Ideally have a monitor just for Teams, use @mentions, try to use Teams instead of emails for internal communications, use video as much as possible. It feels uncomfortable at first…but it passes!”

-VP

Some Encore team members went above and beyond explaining their helpful hints for working with Microsoft Teams:

  • “Take 3 mins with your team to agree on HOW you’ll be in touch. Pretty much every team I know just ASSUMES that each member uses chat, calling, and email the same way. Come to an agreement on when it’s appropriate to reach out at each level (some people hate phone and avoid it, others like chat vs email). If everyone is using the tools in an understood manner, those that hate the phone will be more likely to pick it up. Those that prefer chat will perhaps loosen up on the HUGE messages they write in chats. A 3 minute talk is a huge time and frustration saver.
  • If you don’t want to set your status to ‘Do Not Disturb,’ don’t be shy about muting people and groups as more team members work on Teams. If you need to focus on a project, mute those that aren’t high priority and check your chat feed intermittently when you have time. Many people don’t pay attention to the ‘Busy’ status, so this can give you a bit of quiet time.
  • Use the filtering and additional info tabs at the top of a chat to help you find screenshots, files, and other info that’s been shared over time. It can be hard to scroll through months of chatting to find what you’re looking for.”

-Marketing Consultant

  • “Get a good camera setup and use it. If you want to be perceived as professional, look the part, even when working from home. Related to this is getting the lighting right as well. Not suggesting you need a film crew or anything, but do the best you can.
  • Share documents instead of emailing them around.
  • Try and move as much of the discussion into Teams as possible. It’s not great having half the stuff show up in Teams and half show up in email.
  • Be obsessive about using the @mention feature. That’s the only way to make into my feed these days.
  • Set rules as a team for how you will use Teams and don’t be afraid to self-police it. Set the culture so that people are comfortable calling you out when you do something like email a file that should have been shared. Along this line I would also suggest setting rules for how quickly you will commit to responding, etc.
  • Take the time to learn how to use the tool. A quick YouTube search will give you hours of viewing enjoyment on Teams. Don’t wait for someone to train you. That’s too passive.
  • Familiarize yourself with the notification features. They are super detailed and allow you to curate the notification experience you want.
  • Have fun with the media features like gifs and stickers. Text is a pretty dry form of conversation. Don’t be afraid to punch it up!”

-VP

  • “Use your calendar and share with colleagues. Block time throughout the day in your calendar when needed; like if you are going to a walk with the kids or on lunch when you may need to be away from the workstation.
  • Set your Status Message so your colleagues know your availability and what you’re working on.
  • Try out ‘Virtual Coffee’ (Daily Check-ins) – Make a habit of checking in with colleagues and see how they are doing, and let them know how you are doing and what you are going through, they will be understanding.
  • Create a Lounge Channel in Yammer or Teams and have daily fun topics like submit a photo of something funny or a joke of the day.
  • Think before you send! Decide what method of communication is best.
  • If it’s urgent – use Teams Chat or Call features to get the information you need (don’t forget to use your camera – time to brush your hair!)
  • If you need to discuss a particular topic, create a Microsoft Team channel to collaborate.
  • If you need to discuss something and you would normally walk to a co-workers desk, don’t send an email. It is even more important now for face-to-face time. Send them a chat message and video call them or set-up a Teams meeting.
  • Send an emoji or a gif to keep it fun and light, your culture is what is going to get you through this.
  • If you’re holding client facing meetings, let your family know so they can respect this time.
  • Capture & share in the moment, don’t wait till later to send an email.
  • Utilize screen share or white boarding capability.
  • Integrate OneNote for meeting notes or record your meeting and session and use the transcribe feature and create meeting minutes for everyone to review after or record for people who missed the meeting.
  • Use Planner for follow-ups and see what phase tasks are in.”

-Account Executive

We hope you’ve found some helpful hints in our list above from Encore team members. If you’re interested in learning more about using Microsoft Teams, please connect with us.

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