Managing remote teams is a challenge for modern workplaces, especially when there is a mix of office based and virtual employees.
On a positive note, having a team of remote workers gives employers access to skills and talent they might not be able to source locally. It also offers flexibility and can be a cost-effective way to grow your team without needing more real estate. Successful integration of remote workers will ensure you maintain high morale, productivity, project delivery and team spirit.
We’ve collated our top 5 steps to success for managing remote teams and share a case study of how we put our lessons into practice with our engaging showcase days.
5 steps to success – Managing remote teams
Having worked with high performing teams for many years, we’ve learnt from the best. Now we use those lessons to transform teams into collaborative, engaging powerhouses.
- Remote workers want to feel connected
The increase in part-time, remote and on-the-road workers means an increase in flexibility, but also risks disconnectedness. A tool like Microsoft Teams enables everyone to be part of the conversation, to see and share documents, to be involved and to contribute. It’s a crucial way to keep that sense of a team going when people are not physically in the one place.
- Decreasing email traffic is a good thing
Teams has a lot of capability when it comes to filtering, collating and gathering information and documents. Setting up Microsoft Teams where people can choose which Channels to focus their attention and what conversations to engage in within that Channel, gives people autonomy over their working day.” Teams is a great self-service tool. The result? A happier, less overwhelmed and more productive workplace.Keeping documents and conversation together makes collaboration easier.
Having all documents in one central location saves email trains and avoids multiple access points. Collaboration can happen in real time, tagging people where necessary to prompt them for their contribution. For organisations like government agencies that need to store documents in an eDMS (electronic document management system), Microsoft Teams can allow everyone to work off a single report easily, and once it’s finalised and approved, it can be picked up and moved into the eDMS.
- Visibility equals greater efficiency
Rather than siloed information or having to be across dozens of different folders, across different workstations, across different platforms, with Teams you can pick and choose what you want to see. Establish Channel ‘favourites’, so you can look immediately at what you need. This helps organise workload, reduces miscommunication (everyone sees the same thing!) and improves collaboration by a mile.
- Rules of engagement are crucial
The most successful take-up of any new technology is predicated on being prepared and having a process and guidelines in place. Don’t just introduce Microsoft Teams out of the blue. Consult with your people about how they will work with new tools and systems in a way that makes sense to them and will be sustainable and adaptable over time.
Lessons from our Modern Workplace Showcases
Here at the Modern Workplace Alliance, we’ve been busy over the past few months running Modern Workplace Showcase Days. The showcases, led by MWA partner Adopt & Embrace and Microsoft, have so far helped eight leading Australian businesses and governments discover hands-on how to strive for a more inclusive modern workplace environment. We learned so much about engaging with remote teams, using technology to support remote workers and how we – and all tech service providers – can best help.
Here’s our roundup:
On the whole, Modern Workplace Showcase Days took place at an enterprise organisation’s place of work. The real value was in providing new insights into how teams and departments could better use technology to work and collaborate.
Importantly, the showcase days were designed for a broad range of audiences. For each organisation, we identified a business team that could make the most out of a targeted workshop. This could be HR, Finance, Marketing or any other business unit. IT teams were involved in letting us know which tools people had access to. However, this isn’t the audience we were targeting – they know and understand the tools available. We wanted to get to the hearts and minds of the people who would put those tools into practice beyond the traditional IT group.
Reduce “Collaboration Overhead”
The morning sessions, open for anyone in the company, always started big picture. Aspirational. What does the modern workplace look like now? How is it likely to look in the future? How do we want it to look?
It was a great opportunity for staff to spend even a few moments in this blue sky space. So much of everyday work is detail. Coming together as a team to consider bigger questions now and then is important.
From there, we honed in on some common problem areas. Everyone agreed that they come to work to get an outcome. And, importantly, this depends on a process of collaboration – whether that’s input from your manager, peer reviews of your work or data from another department or team. The time this takes is called collaboration overhead.
Everyone had experienced it – when overhead gets too much. It gets in the way of productivity. And it can be frustrating.
At our Showcase Days, we connected this conversation with tools and technology and the many ways in which Microsoft 365 can enable effortless collaboration for both remote and onsite teams. We focused on Microsoft Teams, Yammer and the Outlook app for devices. Just these three simple tools are super powerful when it comes to collaboration and increasing efficiency.
Microsoft Teams – What’s the state of the market?
On the whole, the organisations we met had a diverse range of experience with Microsoft Teams – from initial awareness right through to sustained adoption. Some people spent most of their day in Teams. Others had heard of Teams but weren’t sure it was for them. Some didn’t know what any of these tools were.
When we explained that using collaborative tools in the right way means an end to the days of endless email chains and multiple versions of files – we immediately saw lightbulb moments in faces all around the room.
Our drop-in Q&A kiosks then gave everyone the chance to stop by at any time of the day for more information and conversation.
We even provided a photo booth as a fun way for staff to get a new profile photo for their Microsoft 365 account. Some people made the extra effort of theming their photo to tie in with current workplace initiatives such as diversity.
Deep dive and actionable results
The afternoon workshops were a combination of brainstorming and problem solving – to show what Microsoft 365 is capable of and how it can integrate into organisational needs.
And with just a small number of people all from one department, we could get really specific about the possibilities.
We started with a conversation about Microsoft Teams, what it can do and what it looks like. We showed examples from other organisations. Then we led a brainstorming session around which business processes the people in the room wish could be improved. No idea was wrong. It was a great, generative conversation.
We then went on to identify one or two specific departmental problems. We gathered ideas with the group on how Teams or another tool could help address these issues. It was important for everyone to recognise that Teams is not the be all and end all. It can do a lot, but we made sure to cover other tools and possibilities that are available too.
Some of the early adopters used the deep dive to showcase how they were using Teams to their colleagues, including advanced features of Microsoft 365 like PowerBI to create stunning dashboards and Flow to automate processes.
These sessions were a powerful way to get teams involved in thinking differently, making processes more efficient and solving real business problems. They proved a brilliant combination of the expertise we bought to the table along with the organisational knowledge of those in the room.
The focus should always be on what the organisation needs and how technology can support that. A modern workplace is never a tech-first discussion – it’s about how tech is an enabler to help drive increased collaboration, productivity and form new ways of working.
Managing remote teams made easy with Modern Workplace Alliance
By implementing some of these simple processes into your teams, everyone will benefit as projects stay on track and teams work more efficiently together.
Manage your remote team with ease by:
- Connecting with your team
- Decreasing email traffic
- Keeping all project materials and conversations in one place
- Staying visible – using tools to decrease the clutter and maintain connections
- Involving the team in implementing new tools to create a sense of ownership and empowerment.
Managing remote teams successfully will benefit your entire team and organisation.
Our Modern Workplace Showcases are a fantastic way to get your team involved in transforming your workplace so it’s ready to grow.
Microsoft 365 really is transforming how organisations work and helping change the modern workplace for the better.
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One you have completed the assessment and told us who you are, you will receive:
- A score out of 75, showing you where your organisation is on the Modern Workplace transformation journey
- Your 3 priority areas to address first
- Information about our 1 day Modern Workplace Accelerator