Why MS Teams is the Best Collaboration Tool for Hybrid Workplaces
Collaboration is an integral part of any thriving modern business. It helps bring organizations closer together, helps people learn from each other and solve problems, leads to more innovation, and provides significant efficiency gains. Crucially, one study found that 85% of employees feel happier at work because they have access to collaboration tools.
While fostering a more collaborative environment has long been a priority for companies of all sizes, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for robust and effective collaboration tools. Remote working became the new norm in a world defined by lockdowns and empty office spaces. Suddenly, effective collaboration was the key to survival.
And now, several years on from the start of the pandemic, it looks like remote working is here to stay. For example, current statistics for remote-capable jobs show that companies that were 60% fully on-site pre-pandemic are now only 19% fully on-site. Similarly, another study found that 76% of workers say their company has shifted to a hybrid working model.
For many of these companies, Microsoft Teams has become the tool of choice for meeting this collaboration need. With this in mind, let's look at how Microsoft Teams enables internal and external communication, boosts employee engagement, improves productivity, and more.
Key Features of Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams has skyrocketed in popularity, reaching 270 million users as of 2022, up from 145 million in 2021. This success is due to the platform's key features that help employees communicate and collaborate. Here are some of these compelling features.
Messaging Chat and Channels
At its core, Teams is a chat-based collaborative tool that allows employees to communicate one-on-one or with a group. Employees can use Teams to chat with people within the company or communicate with external users, a process made straightforward with features like tags that denote someone as external. You can also allow or prevent external users from being able to contact you with a simple on/off function.
Much like email, messaging in Teams happens asynchronously. This means that team members don't need to be constantly available to answer messages; the messages are there for when you're ready to see them.
For more focused chats, you can set up chat Channels. Channels are places where a subset of team members can come together to discuss specific topics. For example, you might have a Marketing Team and need a separate channel for just those team members who work on the monthly newsletter. Channels ensure that communication stays focused and prevents employees from seeing information that isn't relevant to them. You can also quickly launch or schedule meetings from the chat channel, freeing you from time-consuming email meeting invites.
Teams chat supports collaboration by allowing you to do everything from one location. You can share files within the chat, use @mentions to get a specific employee's attention, and use modern communication features like Emojis, Likes, Gifs, and Stickers.
Voice calling has always been vital to strong internal and external communication. It allows you to convey complex information more quickly and efficiently and can help foster stronger social bonds than texting or email. Like with chat, Teams allows for one-on-one or group (audio conferencing) through its voice calling feature.
Microsoft Teams uses Voice over Internal Protocol (VoIP) technology. VoIP essentially does away with analog phone lines and instead converts your voice into a digital signal that's transmitted via the internet. Today, millions of businesses are turning to VoIP because it offers lower costs than traditional systems, provides more functionality, and can scale more easily.
There are numerous benefits to Microsoft Teams VoIP, including:
- Employees can make calls easily as they work by following simple icons.
- Employees don't need to leave Teams to open a different app when they want to make a call. This saves time and offers a leaner working environment with fewer distractions.
- Employees can make and receive calls on the go using the Teams mobile app.
- Adding additional participants to the call on the fly is simple.
- You can search for members to add to the chat without knowing their contact details.
- You can also search for members outside your organization.
- Since Teams uses Microsoft Azure cloud technology to transmit data, audio quality is high, and connections rarely drop out.
In addition to audio-only calls, Microsoft Teams supports video calling. Video conferencing became hugely popular during the pandemic, and with good reason. It helps improve communication, build relationships, and save money (by offering an in-person experience without the expense of travel).
As an inherently visual medium, video aligns with how our brains prefer to work. Humans process visual information far faster than audio or text. Research by Microsoft found that 62% of company executives agree that video calling significantly improves the quality of communication, and 50% of respondents believe it enhances the degree of understanding.
Some specific features that support internal and external communication are,
- Screen sharing: Users can share their entire desktop screen, just one window, a whiteboard, or a PowerPoint file. Screen sharing can help deepen understanding of the topic through clear real-time visuals, keep everyone focused, and help brainstorm fresh ideas.
- Record calls: You can record calls for future reference or share them with people who couldn't make the meeting.
- Change your background: Sometimes, our natural background can be distracting or contain sensitive information. For example, if you're hosting a video call with someone from another company, you might not want them to see the sensitive information on the whiteboard behind you. With Teams, you can select premade backgrounds, upload your own, or blur your background.
While other collaboration tools like Slack and Zoom have also become popular over recent years, Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming the preferred choice for many organizations. Not only does it offer comprehensive and advanced collaboration features, but it also allows you to fully realize the potential of the Microsoft 365 suite.
About the Author: LammTech
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