Rewind the clock twenty years and ‘business collaboration’ was either a meeting or conference call. Advances in technology have since allowed us to collaborate in more natural ways, like video calling and telepresence.
Now, the world seems a much smaller place. However, with teams spread across a country, or even wider, the tools used to bring those groups together haven’t seen the simplification and development that many of us
now expect from the software we use day-in, day-out.
In the age of ‘ease of use’, businesses are focussing on simplifying their workflows and utilising applications that provide employees with a single destination for their entire workload, whilst keeping the information secure.
The right software could become as synonymous with productivity in the modern age, just as the Microsoft suite of software has become over the last 25 years.
When looking for your next collaboration software, it’s worth considering four factors; whether the software allows for employees to work as they want, the level integration with VoIP technology, how easily it allows you to
manage your teams easily and the safeguards in place to keep your data secure.
The ability to work remotely or from home has become the norm for many and collaboration tools help bridge that gap to enable people to work how and when they are most productive. Teams are also becoming more geographically disperse and discovering ways to make collaboration easier and teams feel closer ensures staff are as productive as possible.
In a recent YouGov survey, 66% of respondents considered flexible working the
most important consideration, apart from salary, when looking for a new job.
Remote workers can be generally categorised into 6 types and each has their own idiosyncrasies which need to be considered for each to work to their potential and Microsoft Teams has been designed with these 6 personas in mind:
Night Owl - Those of us that work best at night. 24/7 access to documents and correspondence is essential for these types to be able to work when there are little to no distractions.
Flyer - Project leaders and board members may work internationally, with a considerable amount of travel time required. Access from mobile devices, as well as security, are top concerns for jet setters.
Road Warrior - Usually a member of the sales team, access is limited to when they have reached their destination, therefore mobile correspondence and offline access to the most recent information is vital.
Commuter - Commuters love to catch up on their work, either coming or going from the office. Security, when connecting to public hotspots and access to information are essential for their success.
Migrator - Those that are perfect for your team but live in another country, require instant communication and collaboration, to bridge the geographical gap, and perform as if they were office-based.
Industry Expert - Most likely a consultant, this subcategory requires autonomy and flexibility whilst constantly connected to their team.
By considering the different types of remote workers in your business and ensuring that your next collaboration software supports the productivity of those workers, you not only maximise their output but increase morale as
the workers are able to work to their own preferences and feel more able to express their ideas and themselves when they feel most comfortable. The combination of Microsoft’s OneDrive, OneNote and Teams enable remote
workers to access their information whenever they need to whilst robust E- 2-E encryption ensures that data remains safe from prying eyes.
VoIP technology, or the ability to route phone calls through an internet connection instead of a traditional PBX, is nothing new. Microsoft’s innovation stems from the integration of Skype for Business’ VoIP services
with Microsoft Teams. This enables staff to make calls from within the Teams app so that all contacts, correspondence and collaboration is in one place and your staff can focus on their work.
40% of new enterprise telephony purchases based on a cloud-office suite by 2023.
Considering BT’s 2025 deadline to deactivate the PSTN infrastructure, which is currently used to facilitate both domestic and international calls, businesses are already in need a VoIP solution like Teams, to stay talking
afterwards, even if they don’t know it yet.
Whilst calls from Teams user to user are included at no extra cost, in order to fully integrate the system and make calls to 01,02,07 etc. numbers, businesses will require a combination of Microsoft’s Direct Routing and
Calling Plan services. Sourcing your solution directly from Microsoft is certainly one option, but business rely on simple and personal support for those unfortunate times when problems occur. The best unified comms
resellers will offer this support, along with unlimited calls and messaging; not only to ensure a smooth transition and enable finance teams to plan their budgets easier but to help prevent bill-shock from a user going over
their free-minute allowance.
Ensuring disparate teams are all working efficiently can be a struggle when different document versions are being sent left, right and centre. Time can easily be spent working on old information or strategies, rendering the effort wasted. Scrolling through emails, to find the one with the right attachment, wastes time that could have been spent productively.
22% of working professionals surveyed found that half or more
of the work emails they receive are irrelevant to them.
Ask yourself, how much time in a day do you spend looking for the files or information to complete the task at hand? Good calendar and file management may help, as would an assistant, but we can’t all hire another member of staff just to organise our workloads. Project management needs as much simplification as possible to facilitate efficient working practices and ensure teams are working together.
With the ability to set-up multiple teams, each with their own calendar, important information and shared documents, project managers are able to easily take a bird’s eye view of a task. With a centralised conversation, all input and suggestions are in one place, reducing inboxes and increasing productivity. Work is easily accessible from Office365’s cloud storage and, through integration with Microsoft Planner, managers have much more granular controls around prioritisation, review and deployment.
Inherent in collaboration is the need to share documents and information. The larger and more dispersed teams become, the harder it is to control the flow and security of information. If sensitive files are being duplicated
by each team member involved, it increases the chances of a loss or leak. Storing data centrally, in order to better protect against cyber-attacks, whilst still enabling access for all is becoming more vital to businesses as
hacking is becoming more widespread globally.
Annual global costs resulting from cybercrime are expected to rise to £7T by 2021.
To combat this, organisations will spend £2T on cybersecurity technologies.
Google docs has been lauded as the best collaboration tool for writing, however even after years of development, there are still glaring issues regarding the ownership of documents when staff leave a business, given
the ability for staff to use their personal Gmail account. Therefore, there is a need for a central go-to repository for all things business; contacts, emails, documents, conversations that can act almost as a library so that any
information can be accessed efficiently. Almost acknowledging this, Microsoft Teams centralises the management of data through cloud storage, only accessible through the Teams application and as Office 365
doesn’t support personal email addresses, there’s little chance of documents leaking after a member leaves the business.
Data loss prevention is an important aspect to data security and your collaboration software should take it as seriously as your operation. Microsoft Teams allows admins to determine what information can be shared, both internally and externally even between specific contacts and will block any transfer that isn’t authorised. Furthermore, it will alert both the sender and admin to the prevented distribution, so that managers can
pick up the issue with the staff member concerned and retrain them in the operation’s DLP.
Microsoft Teams was designed to minimise otherwise-productive time, wasted through searching through inboxes and files, by centralising the communication and content creation within a single application. This
ensures there’s less-to-no worrying about staff working on the most recent version, data being shared with those it shouldn’t be or that staff are on-target for their goals. In fact, it can facilitate the majority of a business’ administrative and internal documentation and project management.
To call Teams a ‘one-stop-shop’ would be inaccurate; it’s a one-stop-department-store suitable for any business, with every shape and size catered for, where a company is sure to find at least one ‘got-to-have’ feature that will enable efficiency, productivity or security improvements, no matter the operation.
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