This blog is written by Mario Trentim as a part of our Humans of IT guest blogger series. Mario has a passion for creativity, problem solving, continuous improvement and technology. He shares his best practices to adding a human touch to your remote experience on Microsoft Teams.
I delivered a webinar about team building and teamwork. To my surprise, I got a lot of comments mentioning that it is challenging to engage with colleagues virtually. People even mentioned that we are losing touch with our human side because of technology. What are your thoughts on this, especially as we've shifted to remote work?
As we've all experience remote work now and picked up a tip or two, we know virtual meetings do not have to be boring, inflexible, impersonal neither meetings have to be always "straight to the point." It is important to know that if you feel disconnected from your coworkers, you can make a change in the way you're conducting or participating in meetings, and ultimate, it's on you. The technology is "just" a tool.
In this article, I bring some tricks and tricks to engage and motivate coworkers using Microsoft Teams. Please read on if this is relevant to you.
By working in a physical space, you have the chance to approach your colleagues in various ways. You meet informally at the cafeteria, you have lunch together. You can walk across the office and ask for help or chat about personal topics.
Working from home and moving to virtual-only meetings, are we sentenced to behave like machines? The answer is no.
It is on you and your team to build productive habits. To be a valuable team member, it is essential that you:
Participate actively in the discussions;
As we reflect on the principles above, we can come up with simple behaviors for our daily virtual meetings and teamwork collaboration. Let's start with virtual meetings:
1) Turn on your camera; 2) Take a few minutes to talk about personal topics; 3) Pay attention to people's reactions and ask questions; 4) Take notes, paraphrase, and summarize.
I discovered that by changing my Microsoft Teams' background can spark interesting warm-up conversations. I use photos from the places I visited, sometimes cartoons or movie scenes.
Warming-up questions are a cornerstone of every meeting. Ask direct questions about hobbies, family, or other appropriate topics. For example, "How is Ana doing with homeschooling?", "Is your dog okay?", "Did you had a chance to go for a run yesterday?". Well, use your imagination.
It is not a chore. You have to be genuinely interested in the other person. Start doing that, and you will feel better.
Multi-tasking and half-hearted attention are obstacles to productivity and team morale. Avoid them at all costs. To get people focused, ask questions, engage people, summarize.
By using Microsoft Teams, I take full advantage of collaboration with Microsoft Whiteboard. It is an engaging and fun process.
Finally, don't forget to define action plans and owners. Assigning responsibility and following up on decisions is a final touch on team motivation. In the physical office, we could have those Post-It notes.
You can do the same with Microsoft Teams by using Lists or Planner. Visually tracking goals and activities is another tool for engagement and motivation.
Hope that this article was a reminder of the human touch we're are all capable of having from our homes. As we are all now well-versed in remote work, what other suggestions do you have? Share in the comments below!