Today, many businesses are experiencing some unusual business challenges that are testing their overall business resiliency, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies are requiring employees to avoid the office and work from home to reduce potential exposure to the virus.
Working remotely has been a growing trend for some time. More than 4.3 million employees worked from home in 2018 -- or roughly 3.2% of the total workforce -- according to consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics.
Given the current state of the world, the number of employees worldwide working remotely has increased dramatically. As a result, many executives are looking for ways to use existing technologies to maintain some level of employee productivity even when they are not in the office.
Unfortunately, not every company is equipped with the appropriate tools to support remote workers who need access to company data and communication tools. Organizations that actively use Microsoft Teams are more likely to be able to immediately support remote work requirements than companies that do not.
As company executives instruct their employees to work from home, they'll find five key Microsoft Teams capabilities especially valuable.
1. Emergency communications and delivering relevant resources
HR and crisis response teams will find Microsoft Teams' near-real-time messaging and resource sharing to be useful for emergency communications. A company can create a group in Teams where all active users can receive real-time notices. This feature is especially critical when employees need to receive relevant communication from management via chat or announcements posted to Teams conversations and SharePoint tabs.
Employees can also use Teams to access relevant files that might be valuable resources during an ongoing pandemic, including emergency policies, clinic locations, safety guides and BYOD policies, that need to be shared as quickly as possible.
2. Access work files with Teams file tab
For employees working from home who need to access the electronic files they normally interact with in the office, Microsoft Teams provides a file tab to upload documents and make them accessible to any users with the appropriate access and membership.
This ability for Teams to support file sharing and storage brings valuable flexibility to employees. They are no longer restricted to the office network as they can access data stored in the cloud through Teams without the use of a VPN.
3. Using the computer as an office phone
Not all companies have voice over IP (VoIP) systems that support remote access to voicemail and business numbers from a home or remote office. But companies already on Microsoft Teams can receive calls directly on their computers and mobile phones as if they were at the office.
Some companies already using Microsoft Teams for their VoIP needs will find this capability quite valuable. When users work from home, they will receive calls on Teams when a co-worker or client dials their direct line. This feature is convenient for employees as they won't be required to share their personal phone numbers. For companies not using VoIP, Microsoft Teams can still help employees communicate with each other using audio and video capabilities.
4. Virtual meetings support collaboration
The ability to host or attend team meetings is an important part of working and communicating on projects and other business-related topics. But, when employees can no longer meet in the same conference room, having a platform that can support visual interactions and content sharing becomes critical to their success. Microsoft Teams' virtual meetings enable companies to host meetings with full video support, whiteboards to share ideas and screen-sharing capabilities.
5. Keeping remote work secure
Offering flexibility for employees to work from home can come with its own set of security risks. Employees' home computers may not meet enterprise protections if they are used to access company data. This is especially the case for companies that encourage employees to work from home without supplying them with corporate-owned devices.
But, with Microsoft Teams, those risks are mitigated as employees can use a web browser to interact with company data without risking connecting to the corporate network. Microsoft Teams also offers safeguards through Office 365 compliance and security that can detect data leaks and other threats in the system. For example, the system will lock out a user if identify theft is detected.
Organizations with flexibilities that enable employees to work from home are likely to already have infrastructure in place to support remote work. In those cases, IT generally can remotely monitor and control remote access and connectivity to their data to ensure their safety.
But, for companies without any remote work policies, using these Microsoft Teams capabilities can help establish processes and procedures to ensure their employees are empowered and productive while working from home.