The way we work and live has changed significantly. With COVID-19 continuing to impact people and organizations around the world, many small businesses are embracing remote work. As your business works to equip employees to work remotely and connect with your customers virtually, we’d like to share a few tips and resources on how to do this using Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams enables your employees to perform many essential business tasks remotely. With Teams, you can meet, chat, call and collaborate with employees, customers, suppliers, and partners, no matter where you are.
Here’s what you need to get started:
Drive Teams Adoption
After ensuring Teams has been enabled, the next step is understanding how to get the end users in your organization to adopt and use it. The Adopt Microsoft Teams documentation and the Teams Adoption Guide and Success With Teams documentation have excellent details on this.
To make deployment in your organization easier and more streamlined, check out the templates that are available specifically for small businesses. Microsoft Teams templates allow you to quickly and easily create teams by providing a predefined template of settings, channels, and pre-installed apps, while orienting users to get started using Teams effectively. See Get started with Teams templates for Small and Medium Businesses.
As part of the adoption efforts, you’ll also want to make it easier for users to get familiar with the key features on Teams. Please refer to the bottom of this article for useful links to tutorials and other training materials for end users.
Below are a few practical tips about you can best leverage Teams and quickly get up and running:
Meet from anywhere
Many important discussions and decisions happen during meetings. Without being able to get together in person, new approaches are needed to make these gatherings as effective online as in person, whether they’re customer meetings, employee training calls or internal team meetings.
With Microsoft Teams, people can use video conferencing to communicate securely with HD video while seeing and talking to other participants in real time. This adds a level of engagement and interaction to the conversation as body language and facial expressions promote higher collaboration and understanding.
Screen sharing can also increase your meeting efficiency by making it easier to collaborate and make decisions as a group. At any moment during a call, your employees can broadcast their screen and share content with other participants, such as Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, graphs or videos.
You can invite colleagues and customers to audio, video or web meetings and they can easily join from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Participants don’t need to be members of your organization (or even have a Teams account!) to join a Teams meeting – they only need to look in the invitation for instructions about calling in.
For more in-depth training on the Meetings capabilities in Teams, refer to Meetings in Teams.
Chat from anywhere
When they worked together in the same physical location, employees in your business could chat informally in person. Now that they are working from home, they need to have an easy way to stay connected and informed.
With Teams, they can connect in real time on private 1:1 chats, group chats or in channel conversations that are visible to the entire team. Chat history is available at any time to recall past discussions and decisions. This adds a lot of value for new people coming into the team, or for current team members looking to re-visit a conversation’s context.
And when a conversation needs to be taken offline, they have the flexibility to create private chats for small group conversations with one or many people. They can also stay on top of all of the activity with notifications which alerts to when they’ve been @mentioned or when someone’s replied to a conversation they’re a part of.
Creating and organizing teams
A team in Microsoft Teams is designed to bring together a group of people who work closely to get things done. Teams can be dynamic for project-based work (i.e. a product launch), or ongoing, based on your company’s departments or office locations. You can also set up org-wide teams to include everyone in your organization.
Channels are dedicated sections within a team to keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects or disciplines. Conversations, files, and notes for each channel are only visible to members of that group.
Store and Share files
As your team works together remotely, you'll have files that you'll want to share and collaborate on, both inside and outside the company. Teams makes it easy to share files and work on them together. If your documents are Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Visio files your colleagues and customers can even view, edit, and collaborate on them, right within Teams.
Make sure your company’s key documents are saved in the cloud and ready to be shared securely with clients, customers, partners, suppliers, and other people in your business. Keeping files in the cloud also means you get the benefits of backup and the ability to recover from hard drive failures, ransomware attacks, and other misfortunes.
Collaborate with customers
Companies frequently collaborate closely on projects with clients, customers, or partners. You can invite people outside your business to meetings, have conversations, share files, and track projects - all in Microsoft Teams.
As a team owner in Microsoft Teams, you can add people who are external to your company, such as partners or consultants, and grant them guest access to team chats, meetings, and files.
By default, guest access is turned off. In order to turn on guest access, go to the Microsoft Teams Admin Center, select Org-Wide settings > Guest access and set the allow guest access switch to On.
Enable guest access | Guest Access checklist
Manage and secure your business as it runs remotely
Now more than ever, it’s important to keep your business data and devices secure, while enabling your remote employees to access the company’s resources. Microsoft Teams comes with the enterprise-grade security, compliance, and manageability that you expect from Microsoft 365. These capabilities are built into the platform and on by default.
An optional, but highly recommended security feature is multi-factor authentication (MFA). Adding MFA for remote employees requires them to enter a security code received by a text, phone call, or authentication app when they log into Microsoft 365. If a hacker gets a hold of someone’s password through a phishing attack, they can’t use it to access your company’s accounts and data. You can add MFA protection from the Microsoft 365 Admin center: Set up MFA for mobile devices.
For additional tips and best practices on setting up your business for remote work, follow this link.
These are challenging times for all of us, and at Microsoft, we are committed to helping our small business customers keep their businesses running. We hope these tips help your company make the remote work smoothly and continue to move your business forward. If you have any follow-up questions, we encourage you to ask in the SMB Tech Community.
End user resources
To help your employees get the most out of Teams, you can share with them the following links to end user training resources and training:
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