4 Tips to Get the Most Out of Microsoft Teams

teams

Collaboration platforms are so helpful for businesses looking to streamline their communication processes. Microsoft teams is one of the more notable options out there and, like any collaboration software, is most effective when used properly. Here are some tips and best practices to get the most productivity out of Microsoft Teams & Microsoft Office.

If you don’t use teams, you can apply most of these tips to other collaboration platforms like slack and discord. All of these platforms give you the ability to streamline communication and productivity through video chat, instant messaging, and more. Learning about teams can help you in other software as well, so don’t click away!

4 Tips for Using Microsoft Teams

#1 Pin Important Messages

If there is a particularly important message with the information you’d like the entire team to see, you can pin that message to the top of the conversation. Once you select the pin icon, the message will appear first in the string of other messages so team members will see it before anything else.

This is a great tool to use for announcements, updates, or FAQs for the team so you can cut down on repetitive questions. Just click the three-dot icon and then the pin symbol, and you’re good to go!

#2 Tag Coworkers in Conversations

If you want someone’s input or need to make sure a specific coworker sees a message, Microsoft allows you to tag them using the @ symbol. This sends a notification to the user that they’ve been tagged, and they are more likely to see the message and respond in a timely manner.

#3 Organize Teams into…well Teams.

Microsoft Office allows you to split up your employees into separate groups called “teams”. This allows a dedicated space for each group to communicate. You should set up your teams so each department has its own workspace for collaboration. 

They can also be split up further into “channels” to fit your needs. based on who is working on a current project, for example.  

#4 Connect Teams to other Microsoft 365 Applications

Similar to all Microsoft 365 applications, Teams boasts impressive integration with other Microsoft office tools. It can connect and sync with OneDrive and OneNote, making file sharing a breeze. This, and other integrations, area. A wonderful way to boost productivity and collaboration. Your team should have access to all of the resources and tools they need to effectively complete their jobs.

What are some ways that you use Microsoft Teams to collaborate? Or do you prefer a different business collaboration platform? Share your thoughts in the comments! And visit us again for more tips on all things business and technology.

Contact Us Today!

Employees Do Their Best Work When They are Comfortable

employee comfort

If employees can remain productive for extended periods of time, their business tends to enjoy rapid growth. Unfortunately, this high level of productivity is not always sustainable, and it eventually slows for a variety of reasons. However, if you can make sure your employees are comfortable, then they will be more likely to maintain a manageable level of productivity. 

Most businesses have historically given employees enough to do their jobs, and that was that. This trend has slowly dissipated over the years as employers have become more cognizant of the benefits of making their employees more comfortable. Here are three ways you can increase employee comfort and, likewise, their productivity. 

Give them Hope Enough to Focus on Work 

People don’t usually leave their jobs because they don’t like the people, they don’t get enough time off, and they can’t stand the company culture. They leave because they will find someone who will pay them more or give them the edge they need to jumpstart their career. Just about all businesses want to see their employees work their way up in the company, but with higher turnover rates, it can become evident that workers would rather jump ship in certain scenarios than wait for these opportunities to become available. 

Employees will often find themselves stressed out or flustered over things external to their work, so the less stress they associate with the office, the better. While you might not be able to pay them in accordance with their talents in all cases, you can give them a sense of fulfillment by empowering them to work on projects that tap into their unique skill sets. Most people like being challenged just enough to keep themselves focused on the task at hand, and if they are focused, they’ll be less likely to leave for your competition. 

Extend More than Fringe Benefits 

While it’s certainly nice to provide snacks and drinks for your employees, it’s often the bigger-ticket items that will make the biggest difference in your workforce’s lives. It might be nice to provide them with Swiss Rolls, but when they can’t go to the dentist to address the cavities from uncontrollably eating said Swiss Rolls, it creates a serious point of contention for them. Do your best to provide adequate health and wellness programs, retirement programs, debt relief, and even student loan repayment if possible. 

Many of today’s workers don’t have the above; they only have their paychecks to rely on, and it is a major stressor. This is why they may seek out other opportunities. If you can invest in your staff beyond their compensation, such as by providing them with working technology and investing in their wellness, you can significantly reduce your turnover rate. 

Provide a Pleasant or Flexible Work Experience 

The pandemic has brought about a mindset shift in the modern worker. They now realize just how much time they are investing into their employer, and this doesn’t sit well with many of them. If you can give your team the ability to spend more time with their family or give them time to accomplish their goals outside of the office, you might find that they are more comfortable in their employment with you.  

Remember, not everyone can work remotely, and many people simply don’t (or won’t) want to. While remote operations can help in a certain capacity, it’s important to keep in mind what can and cannot be accomplished through remote operations. In cases where remote operations may not be feasible, you can instead adopt a flexible working schedule or hybrid workplace. 

How can your business make its employees more comfortable? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for more introspective and thought-provoking business ideas. 

Contact Us Today

Should Your Business Consider the Four-Day Workweek?

banner and concept. Block letters on bright orange background reading "4 day workweek"

The traditional 40-hour workweek feels like a staple in the business world, where employees work 8-hour shifts and then head home for the day. This was not always the case, however, and there can be a case made that even the 40-hour workweek should be adjusted to at least some degree. Let’s take a look at the modern workplace, how it has changed, and how it can still be changed to better employees of all levels—including you.

A Brief History of Work and Labor

The Industrial Revolution began with farmers and independent tradesmen being replaced by the factory system. With these difficult and inhumane conditions came new pushes from President Roosevelt to include working hours in the New Deal, a concept which also inspired the United Kingdom to cap work hours at 40 shortly afterward.

The end of World War II also saw women entering the workforce in droves, where they subsequently remained, as well as African American employment in the ‘50s. The factory was essentially replaced by cramped office spaces, and the 1960s saw the development of the cubicle. While all this was going on, technology rose to become a powerful productivity tool. IBM built its first electric typewriter and business computer system, and other innovations further improved operations, such as the fax machine, laser printer, and floppy disk.

The traditional 9-to-5 shift we see today did not appear until the 1980s, a time when the World Wide Web was first introduced and the processes we are so familiar with today really started to blossom. The ‘90s also saw many new innovations, including mobile phones and email. Even after the turn of the century, employment opportunities shifted toward knowledge-based roles, and many platforms took a turn toward the collaborative side of things. The 2010s in particular saw the rise of services and the technology that empowers them, a concept that is still on the rise today.

Yet, despite all of this change, the 40-hour workweek remains largely unchanged, save for a couple of recent shifts due in large part to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Why, when technology has increased in capacity so dramatically, has the workday remained constant? Let’s take a closer look.

How Things Have (and Haven’t) Changed

Technology is the key to understanding how the workplace has developed and how we will continue to work moving forward. Take a look at the technology used in the office throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s. It might not have been as productive, but it allowed workers a break from the office environment. Compared to today’s always-on mentality and near-constant communication, it’s no wonder that the lines between work and home can blur so much.

Household roles, on the other hand, have not changed nearly as much. Working mothers continue to care for the family and prepare meals long after they have punched out of work for the day. This demographic also tends to be employed in high-stress positions like hospitality, education, and healthcare.

A Four-Day Workweek Could Help Resolve These Issues

Perhaps the solution is to simply work “less,” or reduce the time spent in the office by employees without reducing take-home pay. This also helps employees differentiate between home and office life by assigning an additional day as “off.”

A four-day workweek has been said to benefit the environment as well, as the morning commute creates a major carbon burden through today’s gasoline-powered transportation vehicles and the waste of single-use lunch packaging.

There is some pushback to this idea, however, because employers are under the impression that a four-day workweek means less productivity. This has been found to not be the case at all. If you are concerned about losing out on productivity from a shorter workweek, we can help to offset this through the use of technology that streamlines processes and workflows, something which is valuable even if you can’t bring yourself to dump the 40-hour workweek.

Your business can implement these technology solutions to improve operations, too. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

4 Ways Your Business Can Prepare for Hybrid Operations

Woman in hybrid work place sharing her time between an office and working from home remotely, EPS 8 vector illustration

The future can be unpredictable at best, especially in today’s times. You never know when your company will suffer from circumstances beyond your control, whether it’s a disaster that uproots your office or a pandemic that forces your entire workforce to transition to remote operations. Thankfully, even in today’s trying times, technology presents opportunities to overcome these challenges.

Let’s examine some technology solutions that will help you stay successful both now and in the future, even if you have to transition to hybrid or remote business operations.

Hardware Solutions

To prepare yourself for remote or hybrid operations, consider equipping your staff with hardware that allows them to get their work done even when outside of the office. You probably won’t want to give them complete workstations, but you can provide laptops and smartphones to help them stay connected to the workplace even when out of it. If you need a hand with procurement, we would be happy to recommend some of the best deals and solutions out there.

Cloud Computing

With access to hardware out of the way, you will need access to data and software to utilize that data with. The cloud is a perfect solution for this, as the applications and data essentially live in an online environment where they can be accessed as needed. There are many cloud-based solutions to consider, but we recommend a unified communications solution, a data storage solution, and a productivity suite as the absolute bare minimum for any organization hoping to keep operations running while remote. Of course, your needs are different from most other businesses, so it’s best to speak to us about them to give you a better idea of what you might consider for your company.

Unified Communications

Your team will need access to various solutions that allow them to stay in touch with each other while out of the office. Unified communications solutions offer a centralized location for employees to access the plethora of services you might implement, including email, instant messaging, video chat, conference calling, and your voice-over IP solution. Unified communications is an incredibly effective solution for any company that anticipates remote or hybrid operations shortly.

Infrastructure Access Technology

Finally, we come to arguably the most critical aspect of all—security. You want to ensure that only your employees have access to your network infrastructure while out of the office. You can accomplish this by using a virtual private network and remote desktop access applications, both of which allow your employees to access files on the company network or their work desktops remotely through the cloud. Furthermore, you will want to ensure that your company-owned devices are kept secure with unified threat management tools to keep them safe, no matter the type of connection they use for wireless access.

4Corner IT can help you prepare for a future when your organization’s operations may be disrupted due to circumstances beyond your control. To learn more about the technology that makes remote or hybrid operations possible, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Strengths-Based Development Can Take Your Business to New Heights

red dumbbells pattern on teal background

Imagine that you are a kid again, and you get low marks on a test in school. The natural response from your parents and teachers is that you need to double down on studying for that subject, as it is clear that you struggle with it. The same can be said for any professional shortcomings, such as public speaking, interpersonal communication, and other performance-based skills. But what if we flipped this concept on its head and focused not on our deficits but instead where our strengths lie?

This concept is called “strengths-based development,” which has gained a lot of traction in recent years. A study reported by Gallup in 2018 found that businesses involved in the study who embraced this strengths-based approach enjoyed several benefits. This study examined 49,495 businesses, 1.2 million employees, and 22 organizations, all of which fell into seven industries across 45 countries. The participants were split into workgroups, one of which received strengths-based development interventions while the other acted as a control group.

As reported by Gallup, “Ninety percent of the workgroups studied had performance increases at or above the following ranges: 10 percent to 19 percent increased sales, 14 percent to 29 percent increased profit, 3 percent to 7 percent higher customer engagement, 6 percent to 16 percent lower turnover (low-turnover organizations), 26 percent to 72 percent lower turnover (high-turnover organizations), 9 percent to 15 percent increase in engaged employees, 22 percent to 59 percent fewer safety incidents.”

When you think about it, this makes sense. When people do what they are good at, it just feels good, and they are more likely to succeed and stick around to see the benefits of their work. Gallup expands on these numbers a bit by claiming that 67 percent of respondents who felt that managers focused on their strengths were much more engaged with their work. On the flip side of this statement, only two percent of employees who felt their strengths were not utilized were engaged with their work. You can see how strengths-based development can pay off in spades.

But what happens if you need a role fulfilled but do not have any internal talent to tap for it?

More organizations are outsourcing services to external talent than ever before. While it might not immediately feel great to admit that you do not have the talent to handle something, there is absolutely no shame in relying on trusted experts to handle certain aspects of your organization’s operations. One area that is often outsourced due to hiring a dedicated staff is IT management and maintenance. While you theoretically could have your employees manage their own technology, this can be counterproductive and frustrating for those who do not have strengths in this field.

On the other hand, managed IT is a great way to let your employees focus on their own personal strengths. Since they don’t have to worry about their technology solutions, they can instead focus on innovative new initiatives that they wouldn’t otherwise have time for. 4 Corner IT is happy to provide businesses like yours with managed IT services so that you can take a hands-off approach with your organization’s technology.

To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.