One of the biggest challenges people often face when they transition to remote work is not feeling connected with their teammates. When you work from home, it’s easy to feel you’re on an island all alone. You miss catching up in the break room, at lunch or at the end of the day. And getting questions answered or brainstorming together feels much more arduous. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to the Internet and collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams staying connected while working remotely just got a lot easier.
If you’ve been following our blog series on Microsoft Teams, you are familiar with the basics on how to use the software. Still, that doesn’t prepare you for the challenges of maintaining a solid connection with your team. So, that’s the focus of today’s blog.
Staying connected while working remotely tip #1: make your meetings more mindful and inclusive
When you’re presenting during an online meeting, it can sometimes feel you’re talking to yourself. Because you can’t see your audience, it’s easy to forget they’re there. So, take a breath. Pause regularly to ask if anyone has questions. And remind your audience they can share their feedback in the chat window. When you do, your virtual monologue becomes an engaging conversation.
Staying connected while working remotely tip #2: use video whenever you can
I know some people hate using video during online meetings. They don’t want their coworkers to see the messy room behind them. Or they worry a child or pet might suddenly photo bomb the meeting. However, being able to see people as you talk to them makes a virtual interaction feel much more personal. And it reduces the likelihood that anyone will be mindlessly multitasking during the meeting.
Staying connected while working remotely tip #3: use background effects to keep the focus where it should be
To make video more comfortable, Microsoft Teams has just added a feature that allows users to blur the background of their video. Or you can choose from a library of photo and cartoon backgrounds. No matter which option you choose, it’ll take the focus off what’s going on around you and help keep it on the presentation. Can’t find the right one to match your personality? Create your own.
Staying connected while working remotely #4: make the most of digital brainstorming tools
One of the toughest meetings to hold virtually is a brainstorming session. The hardest part is replacing the whiteboard or flip chart that you used to capture ideas. Even if you have one person taking notes to share with the group later, it’s often hard for everyone else to visualize things during the meeting, leaving them frustrated, disinterested, or confused. But now, Microsoft Teams offers whiteboard, draw and sketch features which give you and your team a digital canvas to work on as if you were in the same room. Everyone can take their turn drawing on it or writing their ideas. Then, when it’s complete, you can share it easily.
Staying connected while working remotely #5: make up for missed watercooler chat
Not every conversation you have with colleagues must be about work. A crucial piece of fostering relationships with our colleagues is taking time to get to know each other and talking about other things. However, when you’re all working remotely, it’s easy to let this fall by the wayside. But this can be one of the biggest reasons people feel disconnected when they are working remotely. That’s why some of the most successful remote teams set aside time to connect with their colleagues on more of a personal level. If you need to, why not block off some time on your calendar or set a reminder to do this?
We hope these quick tips will help you and your team bridge the geographic divide that suddenly separates you. For more ideas like on how to say connected while working remotely, download this infographic from Microsoft.