With all the concern surrounding Coronavirus / COVID- 19, many companies are taking sensible precautionary business continuity steps such as: halting business-related foreign travel, postponing large company meetings, or asking members of staff to work from home if they’ve recently returned from an affected country.
Working from home
One of the measures the Government, companies and organisations are considering to ensure business continuity is to ask all employees to work from home. For many this will be a shift in working behaviour, for others this won’t be a so much of a change. A lot of companies and organisations already equip their employees with the tools to work on the go or from multiple locations.
Here at Trustmarque we all have a laptop, a mobile phone and Office 365. This lets us work from where we need to. Many of our teams are split across different locations, we have homebased workers, office-based workers, technical delivery and sales staff who are on the road, and we even have a marketing colleague who is homebased in Austria. Office 365 connects us all and at the centre of this is Microsoft Teams.
How we use Teams
Within Teams there are four functions we use on a daily basis and we’ll explain briefly how we use them, they are:
In Meetings we can set up as a one off or recurring meeting straight from your calendar in Outlook or in Teams itself and invite internal and external people. This can be a video or audio conference call with a small number of people for regular team meetings or up to 250 attendees (with the right licenses) for all company call. There is the ability to share screen and documents, record the session, mute all attendees, and much more.
Chat is instant messaging, perfect for quick questions and conversations with colleagues. These are done in a text box which can easily be switched to a call if needed.
Calls is what you’d expect, telephony. This can be an audio or video call with the same functionality as meetings with the option to add in other people if you want to.
The Teams function allows you to create channels for different projects or teams where you can store, share and work on files as well as hold conversations and set up meetings. This lets you to have a single version of the truth, i.e. a document that is always up to date and available to everyone rather than having several different versions.
Microsoft Teams is included in the Office 365 subscription and can be accessed seamlessly across devices. It lets employees work as usual, sharing screens, collaborating on projects and documents, and continue being productive no matter their location as long as they have access to the internet whether this is their own home broadband or tethered to their mobile phone. Office 365 doesn’t have to be accessed via a company device either. Staff can use their personal devices to access apps and files within Office 365 securely without risk to themselves or the organisation.
Working from home is BAU
If people haven’t worked from home before it can seem like a novelty with both positives and negatives. There is the old stigma of “working from home” that it’s a bit of a skive and it’s an excuse to get some housework done, but this is nonsense.
Being at home is just like being at any other location out of the office, it’s business as usual (BAU). People work as normal: communicating with colleagues, meeting deadlines, completely tasks etc. But it’s also expected you behave as in any other workplace, taking breaks for lunch and making a tea or coffee when you want one. No one would expect you to be at your computer for the full 8 hours in the office so why would they if you are at home?
The pros of being at home is there’s no commute, there’s all the creature comforts (drink, food, you’re able to listen to music out load rather than through headphones) and you can get a lot done without the usual office distractions.
The cons, for some, is the lack of social interaction as you don’t have that person sat next to or team around you to talk to. There can be the merging of work and home spaces, which many people prefer to keep separate, and therefore only work from home occasionally.
Enable your staff to work from home
There is technical help available to assist with your business continuity plans from a software enablement perspective.
Microsoft have announced that they are running a 6-month Office 365 E1 free trial. This offer comes with eligibility criteria, which your Trustmarque Account Manager will be able to advise you on. Office 365 E1 is the least feature rich version of the Enterprise plans. However, users get web browser versions of Word, Excel, Outlook and OneNote and have full access to all the Office 365 apps, including Teams. Exchange online comes with 50 GB and OneDrive has a substantial 1TB of capacity.
Trustmarque are offering a limited number of free remote advice and guidance sessions for customers who want to get Teams up and running and rolled out to their employees as part of a tactical deployment to better enable users to work from home. The sessions will be tailored to your organisation’s needs and will include but are not limited to:
- Setup a new Office 365 Tenant (if required)
- Assistance in provisioning users with your free Office 365 E1 subscriptions (if eligible)
- An online demonstration of how to manage Teams for your IT department
- Collated set of resources and technical information on how to administer teams
- Guidance on how to deploy the Microsoft Teams client app to users’ device
- Advice on user communications including a templated collateral and a quick start user guide
During the session we will also be able to ascertain if your organisation is eligible for FastTrack Ready, a Microsoft funded programme. FastTrack is another direct remote assistance service, designed to shorten the deployment and adoption of Office 365 if you have already made the investment but not started its implementation. Read more about FastTrack>