As a working mom, the ability to lead and work on projects remotely is something I am passionate about. The ability to have work place balance and have a team running like a well-oiled machine is something everyone dreams of. If you have ever lead or been part of a remote team, you are well aware of some of the challenges that need to be mitigated to ensure success. Since teammates are not in the office together there are no cubicle drop-ins or ad hoc troubleshooting meetings in person. People tend to become silos, working on their specific tasks with lack of knowledge about the big picture of a project. Also, no one to use the phone to talk anymore. Instead people email back and forth and often lose the emotion and nuances found in speech. This can lead to confusion and miscommunication among teammates.
Since technology is what has allowed such a vast amount of remote work to be possible, the tools you choose can make or break your project. Enabling, syncing, connecting and keeping your team members current up to the second is key. Here is why I recommend Microsoft Teams for remote project success.
It provides a centralized virtual office or workstation for team members.
Microsoft Teams provides a single app for individual and group chat, discussion, conference calls, group email, file and document collaboration, and content with built-in access to SharePoint, OneNote, and Skype for Business. Teammates can open up their Teams app and work together all day instead of sending Skype messages or emails, navigating to different SharePoint sites, and having conference calls on a separate call line.
Documents can easily be shared and collaborated on within Teams. Files and are stored either on OneDrive or a document library within a SharePoint Team site created for the team when it is created. Only documents shared in private chat are stored in OneDrive. Document management using Microsoft Teams
Keeping remote teammates up to speed on the happenings of a project can be tough. Every Channel within a team has its own email address. When team members email the Channel it automatically created a discussion thread where the topic can be discussed with all team members right within Teams. Any replies to the discussion thread do not get sent to the original person who emailed the Channel, they remain in the Teams central location. All of the back and forth emails leading to decisions often get lost when teammates roll off of a project, making this functionality a true asset. If a team is already using an existing Yammer feed it can be added as a connector to a Channel so it can continue to be accessed directly from Teams.
Within Teams, video and voice conferences can be scheduled or started on an ad hoc basis. If you start a Skype group call from within a conversation, it automatically selects the people who have been involved in the conversation to be invited. A lot of time can be saved in setting up virtual meetings this way and it really provides a more agile experience for remote workers.
The mobile experience.
Remote teams tend to travel and have flexible work locations. The Teams mobile app allows you to view and participate in all teams that you are part of. Channels are easily navigated to by clicking the Team it is part of. You can change your status, chat, write discussion messages and view files all within the app. I have been using the Teams mobile app for iOS for several months and have really found it to work pretty seamlessly.
This may seem silly, but the functionality to create memes and use emojis within Teams really helps make up for some of the lost human contact and emotion when working on a remote team. Memes catch people attention and give you a visual way to express yourself, and they are just fun! It never hurts to have a little fun with your teammates.