Microsoft Teams is an application utilized by hundreds of thousands of unique teams, working together to achieve shared goals. It’s completely free of charge while providing a platform for you and your coworkers to communicate, coordinate projects, share files, and get the job done remotely.
We recently published an article about How to Set Up Microsoft Teams, which goes in-depth about starting out with the software. Now, it’s time to get familiar with it. Today’s piece focuses on Microsoft Teams tips, tricks, and general guidance for remote workers.
If you’re new to working from home or simply want some tips on how to increase your efficiency, try following our tips and see if any techniques help you in your work.
Remote work checklist: How to stay true to the course
Let’s start off with some general things every remote worker should do before beginning a productive day. These tips will help you create a suitable workspace and get your head in the game, even from the comfort of your home.
- Create a suitable workspace. The very first thing you need to do is make sure the workspace you’re in is correct for your needs. Minimize distractions by finding a calm, quiet space. Surround yourself with only the things you need — having things such as smartphones, snacks, and the company will often distract you from your work. Therefore, we recommend having a separate table or stand where you can place your snacks.
Pro tip: Only have your phone close to you if it’s one of your work tools. And if you want to be productive, we recommend turning off your phone's notifications.
- Use applications to enhance your work. In this age of technology, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of software to enhance your abilities. Use applications to manage your time, set up daily goals and reminders, and even block distracting websites.
- Maintain your health. Many people neglect their health when working remotely. Spending extended periods of time in front of the screen is bad for both your body and soul. Make sure to get up every once in awhile, exercise, stay hydrated, and consume healthy meals.
- Communicate with your team. Trust us — your team wants to know what you’re up to as much as you want to keep up with them. Make sure to always communicate with them through apps such as Microsoft Teams to inform them of your progress, schedule, and availability for meetings.
- Be inclusive. The pace of remote work is different than it is in-person. Pay attention to your fellow teammates and always include everyone in discourses, both text, and calls. Being mindful and inclusive will ensure every member of the team can share their ideas and contribute to projects.
- Have chats with your coworkers. As you work remotely, you won’t be able to interact with your team as much as you would in the office. Make sure to take advantage of direct messages, set up a general chatting channel in Microsoft Teams, and have some casual talk with your awesome team to keep the morale up.
- Don’t forget to unwind. Something a large percentage of remote workers struggle with is relaxing after work. Sticking to a schedule definitely helps you get things done, then disconnect from work with a walk, bath, and other fun activities. Remind yourself that just because you could, you don’t have to work 24 hours a day. (Make sure not to underwork either!)
Now that you’ve set your workspace ready as per the above checklist, how can you stay focused while working remotely?
How to stay productive while working remotely with Teams
As you adjust to the pace of working remotely, you’ll run into several unique challenges. Setting up a few good habits is one of the greatest ways to overcome these challenges with your team.
Frequent progress reports
Giving your fellow team members reports on your progress helps both you and them. As you feel inclined to report on your progress every day, you’ll start to motivate yourself and get more work done to impress and motivate your coworkers as well. This can set up healthy habits and enhance communication even more. Don’t forget to comment on something positive towards your team — kind words go a long way.
Hold online meetings
Needless to say, online meetings are essential when working remotely. It allows you to plan ahead, share ideas, and ask questions from your team while also compensating for the lack of company when staying at home. Encourage your team to use video calls to connect with them from face to face.
Record your meetings
When everyone is busy working, it can be hard to set up multiple meetings for people who missed out or forgot something from the previous meeting. If your team allows it, record meetings and share them in a dedicated channel for people to catch up or rewind to key points anytime.
Stay inclusive by scheduling team activities. Brainstorm together, collaborate on files and projects, create boards together, or come up with fun challenges to create healthy competition. Various team activities bring people together, keeping morale and energy high even on slow days.
Microsoft Teams tips and tricks every remote worker needs to know
Take advantage of channels
A great Teams organization has a great channel system set up. Make sure you create various teams and assign dedicated channels for each team member to be active in. Adding channels for specific groups like “Designers” and “Developers” helps organize your projects, while channels such as “Suggestions” or “Reports” gives your team the opportunity to communicate. Don’t forget to add some general chatting areas and channels used for fun!
Filter your activity feed
Having a cluttered Activity feed will make it hard to find things you’re looking for. Using the filter option, you can tell Teams to only show you specific content, such as @mentions, unread messages, direct replies to your messages, and so on. Take advantage of this and increase your focus over time by correctly filtering incoming activity.
By typing commands in the search bar on top of your Teams window, you can get things done rather quickly. There are a plethora of commands available to use in the application, however, most users will neglect to use the vast majority of them. To get you hooked on commands, here are some of our favorites:
- /call - Initiate a call with anyone in your Teams organization.
- /testcall - Check your current call quality.
- /away - Set your status to Away.
- /goto - Quickly jump to a channel or team.
- /whatsnew - See the latest news about Microsoft Teams.
- /help - Get support regarding Microsoft Teams.
Bookmark important messages
To save an important message and any attached content, you can bookmark them. Simply click on the three dots in the top-right of a message, then select Save this message from the context menu. To look up your bookmarks, type /saved in the search bar and never lose a post again.
Rich text editor
Avoid accidentally sending messages before they’re ready and create beautifully formatted messages using the Rich text editor. Before you start typing, click the first icon under the input field (the letter A with a pencil) and begin composing your message. Add a title, mark the message as important, take advantage of formatting, create bullet points, and much more.
To send your formatted messages, just click the Send icon in the bottom right of the text editor.
Do Not Disturb
You’re most productive when fully focused. In this state, even a single notification can divert your attention and distract you from work. Microsoft Teams allows you to set your status to Do Not Disturb, which makes it so you don’t get pop-up notifications.
To turn Do Not Disturb on, simply type /dnd in the search box. You can turn it off by typing /available once you’re done with work.
Use GIFs and stickers
Keep things fun and energized by using GIFs, stickers, and even create fun images — memes, — to share with your team. These can serve as a quick reaction to messages, or even lighten up the mood in the appropriate channels. You can use these elements by clicking on their icons under the message input field.
Other tools that might be beneficial to you
While Microsoft Teams takes care of communication, online meetings, file sharing, and collaboration, there are other tools we recommend using simultaneously with it. While these tools aren’t vital to maintain a productive remote work style, they can be beneficial to people looking for more ways to increase focus and productivity.
Time Doctor is an incredible application most suitable for larger businesses and organizations. It allows you to monitor employee time and generate detailed, powerful reports. Get an accurate overview of productivity and see accurate payrolls.
Hubstaff Tasks is an excellent addition to your Microsoft Teams workflow, as it focuses heavily on setting up tasks. What you discuss in Teams during a meeting or in a channel, can make its way straight to Hubstaff where you can categorize and manage it.
Get the Freehand integration with Microsoft Teams to collaborate on a virtual whiteboard. Team members can add comments, drawings, and other elements to visually discuss designs, layouts, and more.
We hope that this article was able to help you learn more about remote work with Microsoft Teams. To learn how you can get started with the application, make sure to read our How to Set Up Microsoft Teams article.