How do your employees communicate and collaborate with one another? Do they have easy access to an integrated platform that meets all of their co-working needs? Or do they use different applications for different tasks?
If your employees use separate applications for sharing files, arranging meetings, exchanging instant messages and performing other common tasks, then it’s having a negative effect on your business.
In this article, we’ll show you how to save time and money, by replacing four separate communication and collaboration tools with a single integrated platform.
Your employees could be wasting up to 32 days every year
Switching from one application to another may only take a few seconds, but it can have a huge impact on your business.
According to Demystifying the desktop, an employee typically switches between 35 job-critical applications over 1,100 times every single day – and all of those lost seconds add up! Studies suggest that an employee wastes up to 60 minutes every day navigating between apps, which means your business may be losing 32 days per employee, per year!
When you factor in human error, your employees may actually be wasting much more than just 32 days. Maybe an employee launches the wrong application; experiences a lapse in concentration and forgets why they opened this application in the first place, or realizes that they haven’t used this particular application in a while and need to ask a colleague for help.
The disruption caused by moving from one application to another, also means the employee is more susceptible to workplace distractions. Whether it’s taking this opportunity to chat with a colleague, letting their mind wander, or deciding that this is the perfect time to make another coffee, distractions are a serious threat to workplace productivity.
It takes the average person 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus following a distraction. To keep productivity high, you should always be looking for ways to minimize distractions, and application-switching is a huge source of potential distractions in the workplace.
Replace multiple apps, with a single communication platform
If your business uses multiple communication and collaboration applications, then why not boost employee productivity, reduce costs and save time, by replacing them with a single communication platform?
In this article, we’ll show you how to replace four of the most common communication and collaboration tools, with a single Microsoft Teams account.
1. Instant messenger
Instant messaging is one of the most efficient ways of communicating with co-workers, clients, and other third parties, such as suppliers.
Typing out a quick instant message is less time-consuming than writing an email, and far less disruptive than calling the person you need to speak to, or walking over to their desk and interrupting whatever they’re currently doing.
Many modern businesses run on instant messaging, and there’s no shortage of instant messaging applications on the market, including free apps such as Slack and Zoom. But why take the time and effort to setup a separate instant messaging application, when most modern communication platforms have instant messaging built in?
Microsoft Teams has full support for instant messaging, plus a number of features designed to help you organize your instant messages.
Using Microsoft Teams, you can organize your instant messaging into channels, which are dedicated to a specific topic, department or project. A single team can consist of multiple channels, for example your Marketing team might create separate channels for each marketing project, which gives them a clearly-defined place to discuss each project.
To create a channel in Microsoft Teams, simply:
- Log into the Microsoft Teams application.
- In the left-hand menu, select “Teams.”
- Find the team that you want to associate with this channel, such as your Marketing team. Select that team’s accompanying three-dotted icon.
- Select “Add channel.”
- In the subsequent popup, give your channel a name and enter a description.
- Click “Add.”
Everyone who’s part of this team will now be added to the new channel, and can send messages, receive messages and share files via this channel.
2. File manager
Whether it’s sending a contract to a potential new client; sharing a PowerPoint presentation with their manager; or co-authoring a report with a remote colleague, your employees need a secure, reliable way to share content.
Microsoft Teams makes it easy to share any file, folder or document:
- Log into Microsoft Teams.
- Select the recipient’s name, which will launch a new, one-on-one chat with that person.
- Click the little “file” icon.
- Select the file that you want to share, which can either be stored on your local computer or in any application that’s connected to your Microsoft Teams account, such as OneDrive.
- Click “Send.”
This file, folder or document will now be shared with the recipient.
Sometimes, your employees may need to share an item with multiple people simultaneously, for example ensuring the entire marketing team has access to this month’s SEO report, or sharing a database of contacts with your sales staff.
Once you’ve created a Microsoft Teams account, you can share any file, folder or document with an entire channel, in just a few clicks:
- In Teams’ left-hand menu, select “Teams.”
- Find the channel where you want to share your file, document or folder, and give it a click.
- Click the little “file” icon.
- Select the file, folder or any other content that you want to share.
- Click “Send.”
This item will now be accessible to every employee who’s part of this channel.
Finally, an employee may need to share a file in multiple unrelated locations, such as posting it to several channels, or cherry-picking individual contacts who all require access to the same file but don’t belong to the same Microsoft Teams channel.
In this scenario, you can save time and effort by uploading the file to Microsoft Teams once, and then sharing the file as a link. Simply share the item with the first contact, team or channel as normal and then select the “Files” tab in Microsoft Teams’ left-hand menu.
In this tab, find the file that you just uploaded, click its accompanying three-dotted icon and then select “Get link.”
Copy the link and you’re ready to share this file with any individual, channel or team spanning your entire Microsoft Teams account, simply by pasting this link into a new location.
3. Wiki software
When you hear the term “wiki,” chances are you immediately think of Wikipedia, but today countless businesses use wikis as a way to record and share information online.
You can use wikis to share information internally, for example creating a wiki for your company policies and procedures, or a knowledge base that shows new hires how to use your in-house tools and systems. Some companies also use wikis to share data with third parties, for example publishing their product’s documentation in wiki format.
Want to create a company wiki? There’s countless popular wiki-hosting services on the market, such as WikiFoundry and Wikidot, but if you use Teams then Microsoft automatically generates a wiki for every single channel you create.
If you’ve created at least one channel, then you’ve already taken the first steps to building a comprehensive company wiki, or even multiple company wikis.
To take a look at the wiki that Microsoft Teams generates automatically, simply select any channel and then click its “Wiki” tab. Microsoft Teams will now display a fresh wiki, ready for you to populate with your own content.
Alternatively, you can create a wiki by selecting the channel in question and then clicking its “+” tab.
In the subsequent window, choose “Wiki.”
Give your wiki a name and enter a description, and then click “Save.” Rinse and repeat these steps for any additional wikis that you want to create.
Every document in your wiki is divided into pages and sections, so just give the first automatically-generated page a title and start writing your first section.
To create more sections, hover over any blank space in the wiki and then click “+: Add a new section here.”
To add extra pages, open the side-menu by clicking the little lined icon.
Give the “New page” button a click, and Microsoft Teams will generate a new page for your wiki.
4. Video conferencing
Your typical employee spends over 5 hours in meetings every single week, and attends a total of 62 meetings per month. With your workforce spending a significant amount of time in meetings, they need a tool to help them arrange and attend those meetings.
Microsoft Teams lets you schedule meetings with any contact, just by entering their Teams username or email address:
- In Teams’ left-hand menu, select “Calendar.”
- Select “New meeting.”
- Give your meeting a title.
- Enter the names or email addresses of everyone who needs to attend this meeting.
- Specify the date and time when this meeting will take place. All attendees will receive an email invite, regardless of whether they have a Microsoft Teams account.
- Create an optional description, or you might use this opportunity to share a meeting agenda, define some goals, or suggest a few talking points that need to be covered during the meeting.
- Once you’re happy with the information you’ve entered, click “Save.”
All of these contacts will now receive an email invite, which they can either accept or deny.
If an attendee accepts the invite, then this meeting will often be added to their calendar automatically, even if they’re not using Office 365.
When it’s time to join the meeting:
- Log into Microsoft Teams.
- Select “Calendar” from the left-hand menu.
- Select the meeting in question.
- Click “Join.”
If the attendee doesn’t have a Microsoft Teams account, then they can join the meeting by clicking the link that’s included in their meeting invite. If this person imported the meeting into their favourite calendar app, then they should also be able to join the meeting by opening their calendar, selecting the meeting in question, and then clicking “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting.”
Sometimes, an employee may need to create a meeting right now, for example in response to a crisis in the workplace, or if they’re instant messaging with a colleague and realize that this conversation would be easier over video.
If you sign up for Microsoft Teams, then your employees will be able to create, launch and join a meeting within seconds:
If an employee is midway through a conversation with an individual, group or channel, then they can invite everyone who’s part of that conversation to jump on a video call, right now.
To launch a video meeting, select the “Meet Now” icon, which appears alongside the box where you type all of your instant messages.
When prompted, give this meeting a name and click “Meet now.” Microsoft Teams will now launch a video meeting within the context of the current conversation – and you can start chatting with your colleagues!
Want to get even more out of Microsoft Teams? Check out our 6 favourite productivity hacks for Microsoft Teams.
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