There are important lessons to be learned from every crisis, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is no different.
Since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic in March, many organizations have come to realize that remote working must become the new normal. Such organizations recognize that we now live in a world where a deadly virus can infect millions of people and shut down entire countries faster than policymakers can take decisive action to stop it.
In the past, organizations that decided to provide remote working opportunities for employees had plenty of time for employee training, but the recent events require rapid response and fast adaption, which can be achieved only with an easy-to-use and easy-to-deploy virtual office solution like Microsoft Teams.
What Is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft describes Teams as a unified communication and collaboration platform. It was created during an internal hackathon at the company and launched worldwide in 2017. Just two years after its launch, Teams was already used by more than 500,000 organizations, including 91 of the Fortune 500 companies.
At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Teams saw more than 200 million meeting participants in a single day, who collectively generated more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes, said Samik Roy, the Country Head of Modern Workplace at Microsoft India.
As a unified platform for communication and collaboration, Teams combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and other capabilities into a single virtual office solution that integrates with Office 365 and many non-Microsoft products.
Teams is built with enterprise-level security, compliance, availability, and manageability in mind, using the same technology that powers the rest of Microsoft 365 and Office 365. This is great news for SMBs whose IT departments are already working beyond their capacity and have no time to harden and maintain a virtual office solution that doesn’t hold up to daily use.
Microsoft Teams Features & Capabilities
Microsoft Teams boasts many useful features that enable organizations to be fully virtual without sacrificing productivity. In fact, many organizations that use Teams report better productivity as a result of improved collaboration. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important features and capabilities Teams has to offer.
Email has been serving organizations well for decades, but employees working from home need to chat in real-time for fast-paced decision making. With Teams, employees can connect with a simple click and chat either one-to-one or as a group. Besides their thoughts and opinions, Teams makes it possible for employees to also share their personality with gifs, stickers, and emojis, helping them strengthen their relationships and better cope with social distancing measures.
Voice and Video Calling
Remote workers often miss the face-to-face interaction with their coworkers that happens naturally in physical offices. Teams makes it easy to switch from text to voice or video when discussing particularly important topics, and it even provides the option to record conversations and save them online so they can be shared securely across the entire organization.
Teams allows organizations to meet online with consistent experiences across platforms. It provides a whole host of productivity-enhancing features, such as meeting note-taking, screen sharing, and meeting recording, and leverages an AI assistant for automating meeting scheduling, room reservation, and access to essential information. Beyond meetings, Teams makes it possible to host online events with up to 10,000 attendees, which may come from both inside or outside the organization.
When employees are working from their homes, they can’t simply drop by for an important document. Teams solves this problem with built-in file storage and file-sharing capabilities. When an employee shares a file in Teams, the file is stored either in their team’s SharePoint folder or in their OneDrive for Business folder, depending on whether the employee shared it in a channel or a private or group chat. Other employees can easily retrieve the file from the relevant folder with minimal interruption to their work.
Productive teams collaborate to achieve a common goal, and Microsoft Teams gives them all the tools they need to work together virtually. With the Whiteboard app enabled, employees can sketch their ideas on a digital canvas before turning them into reality using familiar apps and services from Microsoft, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Planner, and even Power BI, all of which support secure collaboration.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caught many organizations by surprise and without the technology in place to transition their employees to remote work. Fortunately, solutions like Microsoft Teams allow organizations to quickly create a virtual office and remain productive remotely.