Before 2020, remote work existed but not on the level we see today. While some companies offered the ability to work from home, today it has become the norm for most businesses. As time goes on, we’re seeing a dramatic shift in the way companies are returning to normal operations, with 90% of employees in Australia wanting to continue to work from home, and 75% saying their ideal scenario is a combination of in-person and remote working.
Many businesses will embrace some form of remote working, whether it is a hybrid model (employees who work away from the office at specific times), to an organisation having no office space and operating fully remotely.
One of the concerns for companies is how to effectively manage a remote workforce, regardless of the remote work model in use. Microsoft 365 offers businesses multiple ways to manage remote employees, regardless of where they are. The cloud-based service offers a full suite of tools and apps for managers to support their remote workforce. With M365, managers can implement security settings, define allowed apps, and ensure employees are securely accessing business data.
Getting started is simple, with the goal of enabling collaboration and driving productivity while working remotely. When properly utilised, Microsoft 365 creates a strong sense of teamwork and offers the flexibility needed when people are working together, yet apart.
How to start managing your M365-based remote workers
The first step is to bring your team together and guide their tasks and activities effectively. This means sharing documents (information collaboration), exchanging ideas (communication), and managing tasks (productivity).
To do this effectively, managers can make use of SharePoint, Teams, and Planner. As Microsoft 365 is cloud-based, you and your team can access these productivity and communication tools in any work environment, at any time.
For most team tasks, everyone needs to refer to the same information. SharePoint allows managers to create a collaborative hub for remote workforces. Every team can have their own intranet websites that allows them to work together on projects. From there, managers can run entire projects, add updates, and use embedded calendars to track tasks and deadlines.
SharePoint also allows managers to set permissions by directory or folder, and each upload inherits the unique permissions of the folder or directory it is being uploaded into. Changes being made to documents are always tracked, making it possible for managers to keep an eye on any changes being made.
Seamless communication is vital for a productive team. The ability to connect from anywhere at any time is enabled by Microsoft Teams, which allows online meetings through video, instant chat messaging, and real-time collaboration. Managers can use Teams for both communication and collaboration:
- Gather a team around a project or tasks, share files, drive conversations using text, video, or audio
- Create a complete cloud workspace for your team with tabs in Teams for files, apps, and services
- Connect everyone on a human level with the video meeting feature.
Managers might question the ability to keep projects on track when their employees are scattered in different places and working from mobile devices rather than desks near each other. Microsoft 365 makes task management easy, with Planner – a teamwork tool that also connects with SharePoint and Teams.
Planner is a workspace where managers can schedule tasks, as well as check and track progress on projects. It allows easy allocation of tasks to people and follows tasks to completion. And because it is part of the cloud services offered by Microsoft 365, Planner shares the same security features and permissions access with the other apps and tools.
Create a similar workspace to the office
Using the right productivity tools is great but it can be lacking when it comes to successfully managing a remote team. You need to actively engage remote employees to minimise any sense of isolation and to keep everyone on the same page. Some employees find remote work helps them stay productive, while others are easily distracted or miss the human contact of face-to-face interaction with their colleagues.
Ways to combat these issues as a manager might be to:
- Hold a weekly online video meeting to discuss any issues, but also to connect. Prepare an agenda and allow time for every team member to have some focus on how they are going. The goal of these meetings is not to push people to get things done, but to connect, which can be motivating and establishes a sense of work community.
- Try to schedule time each day in your work schedule to be available to employees who need to discuss any issues, concerns, or need help with tasks.
- Set time aside to review tasks and provide feedback to employees, taking the time to identify issues and resolve any problems together.
The goal is to create new pathways of manager-employee interaction, to help employees stay productive and feel connected to business goals.
Implementing the tools and technology for your remote workers takes some consideration, so it’s important to have a dedicated team of experts who understand how to create a modern workplace. Linktech Australia is a Microsoft Gold Partner and offers specialist Microsoft 365 consultancy to streamline your transformation to a modern workplace.