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Tips and tools to help remote teams work effectively

A beginner’s guide to working remotely for teams who never thought they would

woman looking at laptop

Across Canada and in many parts of the world, businesses are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging staff to work from home where possible. This is a new model for some, which may take some adjustment. Working remotely is hardly a new concept; but for some businesses, having staff work from home to the extent this health crisis demands could be an unanticipated challenge.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help teams work effectively and collaborate, no matter where they are. Here are a few tools and tips to help keep your team on track: 

Collaborate online with cloud-delivered applications

G Suite by Google Cloud or Microsoft 365 allow you to securely access, store, edit and share documents, including written documents, spreadsheets and slideware, online with ease. These productivity suites also allow for calendar sharing, real-time chat and video conferencing so you can conduct effective meetings even when everyone is in a different place.  

Integrated with Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams is a collaboration hub where users can use familiar programs, like MS-Word, Excel and PowerPoint in addition to sharing files or setting up meetings and chat groups.

Master the conference call: Streamline and manage calling with innovative voice solutions

As impressive as sharing files and conducting video conferences over the internet is, never underestimate the importance of a simple phone call for keeping employees connected. Fortunately, voice solutions have come a long way, especially in being able to accommodate remote collaboration. With Microsoft Teams, there's the option of getting Microsoft 365 Business Voice, which adds calling to Microsoft 365. In addition to providing each employee with one number that applies across all their devices, Business Voice uses AI for automatic voicemail transcription, inline chat translation and real-time captioning in meetings as well as multi-level auto attendants and call queues so you don’t miss any important calls.

With that said, Business Voice appeals primarily to organizations that have offices internationally, have already heavily adopted Microsoft 365 or who are already looking to the cloud for rapid scalability. If that doesn’t describe your company, you may find Rogers UnisonTM more appealing. With instant messaging as well as telephone features, Rogers Unison is a complete business communications system that can greet and direct your customers’ calls with a fully automated answering system, route incoming calls between your mobile devices and your team until someone answers, and so much more.

Respect the workday, but understand when your workers need to be flexible

Oftentimes remote workers will work longer hours, ploughing through lunch and not logging off when they would typically leave the office. Given the unusual nature of the COVID-19 situation, with childcare or other demands on their time, workers may need to be flexible in their hours.

Managers can set an example with regular communications at the beginning and end of the day, occasionally also reminding staff that flexible work doesn’t mean working every available minute. This could be as simple as an email near the end of the workday thanking everyone for their work that day. This can help employees draw the line between their work-life and home-life even if their physical location doesn’t change.

One-on-one meetings

Many managers have an open-door-policy in their office. This same policy can translate to your remote work by scheduling regular one-on-one virtual meetings, either by voice or video call.

One-on-one meetings give employees the opportunity to voice concerns, ask for help or just touch base on upcoming work. This practice not only gives the employee a predictable opportunity to connect with their manager, it also keeps other meetings focused on the task at hand.   

Read more about keeping your business connected during COVID-19.