In a period when remote working has become the new norm, video teleconferencing software has taken on new significance. The coronavirus pandemic has turned the entire world on its head, as communities across the globe try to quell the spread of the virus by enforcing strict measures and changing the way they carry out even the simplest task.
And the UK is no exception. Since March, we’ve found ourselves under strict lockdown guidelines, ones which have changed the way we operate in terms of work, exercising, family time, socializing, shopping, and more. For some of us, the coronavirus has given us more time than we know what to do with. For others – like those working in healthcare – life has never felt busier or more pressure.
We’re going to take a closer look at just how the coronavirus has impacted the way businesses are operating in 2020, as well as exploring how platforms like Microsoft Teams are coming to the rescue and making things easier for organizations to create something like ‘business as usual.’
And to help us, we’ve roped in the advice of the security experts at Syntax IT Support London. Let’s take a look at how video teleconferencing (VTC) software like Microsoft Teams is helping staff stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current government lockdown guidelines have primarily split workers into three categories. First, there are those who cannot work at all. These are individuals whose job has not been deemed necessary enough to continue during the pandemic, and who cannot work from home. Secondly, there are the key workers: those individuals such as nurses, doctors, delivery drivers and supermarket staff who are continuing to travel to work as their contribution is considered necessary during this time.
And finally, there are those who are able to work from home. For those in this latter category, the switch to remote working can be a source of uncertainty and anxiety. Business owners are having to rethink the way their business operates, adjusting to the task of managing workers across many different locations.
This is why platforms such as Microsoft Teams have become so important during these times. By making the most of video communications, employers can recreate the sense of being in a physical workplace, having the capacity to talk freely to their team members despite the switch to remote working.
But what exactly is Microsoft Teams, and how does it work? And, most importantly, how can it benefit your business during these strange times?
What Is Microsoft Teams?
Like other popular software such as Slack and Zoom, Microsoft Teams makes collaborative video calling possible across businesses, departments and teams. However, Teams is considered by many to be the most advanced and most secure option available. The unified communication and collaboration platform combines regular workplace chats with video meetings, file storage and application integration.
Microsoft Teams even accommodates collaboration on files, meaning team members can simultaneously work on a document together while video calling, getting as close as possible to being back in the office.
Microsoft Teams integrates with the Office 365 subscription office productivity suite, meaning users can take advantage of all that Office 365 has to offer, including some of the world’s most popular workplace applications. It also features extensions that can integrate non-Microsoft products with the software.
Teams is the evolution and upgrade path from the hugely popular Skype for Business.
Although Microsoft Teams has been available to businesses since March 2017, when it was released worldwide, recent events surrounding the coronavirus have seen its popularity and user numbers soar. In fact, between 11th March and 18th March 2020 alone, Microsoft gained 12 million new daily users. Many businesses were of course included in these numbers, but the platform is also being used by families and friends trying to stay in touch during isolation.
What Are the Benefits of Using Microsoft Teams?
Many businesses are using Microsoft Teams during these strange times, but why should your organization be one of them? Well, for businesses looking to maintain productivity, collaboration and security during this time, Teams can be hard to beat.
Within a single window, users can call upon a wide variety of popular Office 365 apps and tools to help them work more effectively, including using calendars, organizing meetings, creating, sharing, editing and finding content, calling and virtually meeting with team members, chatting and instant messaging across the business and with clients.
All of these services can be traced back to several popular Microsoft platforms, including Outlook, SharePoint, OneDrive, OneNote and Skype among others, but are now available within a single software.
So what does this mean in terms of benefits? With Teams, organizations can enjoy all the benefits of a smooth operation delivered from a single centralized hub. Office 365 integration allows Teams to work seamlessly alongside your existing software, as well as giving you access to a wide range of popular applications and programs.
You can also customize teams through APIs and bot frameworks, allowing you to create a platform tailored to your business requirements. Azure Active Directory integration also creates a seamless user experience and added benefits.
And on top of all this, users have the peace of mind that the software they are using is safe. Enterprise security and compliance come as standard with Microsoft Teams, so even when working remotely, you can rest assured that your business data is well protected.
This is important, as businesses are generally more vulnerable to cyberattacks while remote working, as your data is continually traveling across a range of devices, locations and networks, creating ample opportunities for hackers to intervene.
All of this comes at no extra cost to Office 365 users. And seeing as there are upwards of 200 million Office 365 users worldwide, there are plenty of businesses which can benefit from all that Teams has to offer without having to incorporate an extra expense into their business finances during this time.
How to Make the Most of Microsoft Teams for Your Business
Microsoft Teams is more than just a video chat platform – it’s all about organization. So being organized is key to make the most of everything that Teams have to offer. Users can create teams across organizations, and name ongoing chats and projects to keep them ordered and clear.
Users can now also assign tags to users, meaning messages can be sent by tags rather than copy and pasting the same message to multiple members of the group. What’s more, a February update allows users to share messages to Outlook from Teams in the form of an email, so nobody within the organization needs to be kept out of the loop.
Microsoft Teams is hugely customizable, so take the time to explore the available apps and find the ones best suited to your business. Choosing your favorite apps will allow you to create a platform that accurately reflects your business needs.
To get the most out of Teams, it’s a good idea to seek the support and advice of dedicated IT Support experts . They can help you get to grips with everything the platform has on show, benefitting your productivity in the long run.
MS teams screenshot -DepositPhotos