The recent massive shift from traditional to hybrid and remote workplaces has created the need for companies to virtually connect employees across multiple locations, often in different time zones. Many organisations have turned to Microsoft Teams for facilitating employee connectivity. Teams has helped hundreds of millions in organising working groups and fostering collaboration through the software’s chat and meetings tools.
1. Deepen Connections with Channels
Microsoft Teams allows you to create shared workspaces with your groups, including people within and outside the organisation. Team members can join in on conversations, organise information and share content through Team channels. Channels are the foundation in building work relationships through Microsoft Teams.
First, set up channels based on a shared purpose. For example, there are usually channels for specific projects, such as a channel dedicated to one client, and channels for certain aspects of one project, like a channel for content collaborators for one client.
Channels can also be established for specific lines of communication, like for leadership to all staff or a group social outlet on non-work topics like funny pet stories.
Second, invite all relevant stakeholders to each channel. This does wonders in breaking down information silos, encouraging team communication and bringing transparency to workflows.
Team members can easily be added to or dropped from channels. All previous conversations in the channel remain intact, regardless of who is coming and going from the group. This makes it straightforward to access and manage information as team members change.
Channels can have thousands of participants or just a couple. Members can also simultaneously cross-post a message to other channels for ease of information sharing across workgroups.
2. Improve Rapport with Video Meetings
Chatting on channels is a highly effective way to contribute ideas, brainstorm, and ask or answer questions; but participants cannot see one another. While most communications need not be face-to-face, it is important to regularly have conversations where you can see and hear participants. This provides greater context and clarity to conversations.
It is much easier to read people’s emotions and appreciate their intent when communications are aided by nonverbal cues like facial expressions and voice inflections. In this way, face-to-face communications help build trust and understanding between people. For all teams – especially hybrid and remote teams – video conferencing is a powerful and necessary tool.
Unlike impromptu in-person meetings and chats in the office, video meetings with remote employees require some forethought and strategy. Here are some ways to use video meetings in optimally effective ways:
● Team Check-ins – have team or one-on-one video meetings regularly to make employees feel connected to each other and their work. This can include weekly performance reviews or daily stand-up meetings.
● Screen Sharing – rely on this feature to collaborate on project research or document creation in real-time. Teams will feel more included and actively engaged with one another.
● All-Hands Meetings – use video conferencing to communicate important or sensitive information to a large team, your entire staff or another sizable group of associates. A video meeting in such instances will be more impactful compared to an impersonal, mass email.
3. Strengthen Group Dynamics with Live Events
Enhance your group dynamics with live broadcasts in Teams. Live broadcasts are the perfect vehicle for company leaders to give presentations to staff, or for outside experts to share insights with your group.
Live events are of course broadcast in real-time, creating a more exciting atmosphere and deeper connection between presenters and audience than pre-recorded presentations. Live events can also be recorded and packaged for later viewing or use by employees, customers or other collaborators.
Consider building work relationships through Microsoft Teams by using live broadcasts for:
● Question & Answer sessions between company leaders and staff
● Knowledge-sharing presentations by internal or external advisors
● Keynote speakers at conferences
● Webinars, symposiums or other types of forums
● Sales and marketing events for a targeted external audience or the general public
● All-staff presentations or conventions
● Virtual town halls for building dialogue with staff or outside stakeholders
4. Encourage Groups to Maximise Teams
Naturally, the extent to which Teams can level up your work groups’ collaborative abilities will depend largely on how each person uses the software. To meet the goal of building work relationships through Microsoft Teams, while maximising the effectiveness of this platform, there are two critical steps to take:
● Align Teams Usage with Goals– encourage your team to not only use Teams, but to do so in a way that aligns with goals relating to individual, working group and organisational performance. How can Teams be used by an employee to hit their growth goals? Can Teams be used by a group in a manner that overcomes a production problem? Is the organisation advocating that employees feel free to voice their ideas through Teams in keeping with a company culture that values employees’ input?
● Training and Best Practices – Microsoft Teams is a relatively straightforward platform to use. Because many people can jump on the software and use it intuitively for basic tasks, it can be easy to overlook how to augment its capabilities for an individual’s or a group’s workflow. Similarly, users may not know the full suite of Teams tools.
Here is why it is highly advisable to train workers on Teams. In addition to teaching all of the features of Teams and how to access them, working groups should develop Microsoft Teams best practices. This document can serve as a roadmap on how a specific team can incorporate Teams into its workflow for the utmost efficiency.