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Are you maximising your Microsoft Teams investment?

With so many of us continuing to work remotely, using collaboration tools has almost become second nature for connectivity and productivity. As the focus shifts to a return to the office, the question remains: is it possible to maintain productivity and efficiency with a hybrid workforce split across both home and office environments? The answer is a resounding yes.

Without a doubt, efficiency and productivity have never been more important. For starters, many workers are eyeing off more flexible work from home policies, with a recent Microsoft study finding that 71% of employees and managers reported a desire to continue working from home at least part-time1.

There’s also the fact that many staff are apprehensive about whether it is safe to go back to work.

If your in-office meeting experiences are poor or unsafe, employees may prefer to jump into online meetings from home rather than waste time using an old AV system or getting frustrated trying to join a meeting.

Combined with the appeal of not having to spend hours commuting into the office, you can see why it’s important to provide a superior experience in your office to support the return to office transition.

While many organisations have adopted tools to keep their employees connected, many are only just scratching the surface of the business benefits of the modern collaboration experience.

In this blog, I put the spotlight on Microsoft Teams, exploring the endless possibilities for creating a more seamless, engaging experience – no matter where you choose to work.

Unlock value with an integrated approach

Put simply, the Microsoft suite is better together. Microsoft Teams Rooms can now be paired with the Surface Hub as well as existing audio-visual assets – such as TVs or room-based speakers – to transform the meeting room experience. Together with the Microsoft Teams app, you’ll be able to support rich collaboration between remote and in-office teams.

You also won’t use the first 5-10 minutes of the meeting trying to troubleshoot the AV system, resulting in wasted time and energy.

This may seem like a given, but previously there was no real co-existence strategy with other collaboration tools. For example, you could use either the Surface Hub – an all-in-one digital whiteboard, meetings platform, and collaborative computing device – or Teams Rooms, but not both.

Now, you can have the best of both worlds: the virtual interactions familiar with a Teams Room solution, coupled with the ability to collaborate on the Surface Hub.

Maximise existing meeting room tech investments

The costs tend to pile up pretty quickly when organisations are required to tear down and replace meeting room setups. And with current budget constraints, it’s a waste of precious resources. Fortunately, it’s more than possible to integrate Teams with existing room solutions.

This is particularly valuable for complex, expensive, enterprise level setups. For example, if you’ve already invested in Webex boards, this can be integrated into Teams via cloud IntraOp solutions – allowing customers to continue to use Teams for meetings while retaining their existing hardware.

For smaller businesses with simpler setups, connectivity to Microsoft Teams is easy and low-cost. One way to achieve this is via collaboration bars – an integrated sound bar with in-built camera – from vendors like Polycom or Logitech.

Simply plug in to your device and join meetings. It’s not limited to Teams either, so it can be used for other audio and video needs, making it a great investment for more permanent at-home office setups.

Logitech Microsoft Teams Room Kit

 

Extend functionality with third-party applications

To create customised, seamless collaboration experiences, integrating with existing applications is crucial. With over 600 available – from native Microsoft apps such as OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint to industry-specific apps – Teams offers endless integration possibilities. The standouts include:

  • Project management apps: Meetings are where the bulk of the project management occurs. Using leading apps – including Microsoft Project & Planning integration with Teams, Asana, Monday.com, Smartsheet and many more – to organise tasks and facilitate project planning directly within Teams ensures more seamless collaboration.
  • Talent management apps: HireVue, Phenom, Teamflect, and Talview can all be used for in-meeting candidate analysis, interview question reminder notifications, and much more.
  • Education specific apps: As schools continue some form of hybrid learning, capabilities such as real-time content creation, sharing and discussion and video overlay for presentations will continue to enhance and improve learning outcomes. Moodle, Prezi and Jira, to name a few, are all supported.
  • Polling apps: Often used in the webinar or meeting scenario, polling provides an effective way to quickly gather feedback from a group of individuals. Polly, SurveyMonkey, Slido, and Pigeonhole are all available to integrate.

Polly in Microsoft Teams

Explore the full list of third party apps available to your organisation via Teams here.

Data#3 case study: A custom app-supported project

To give you an idea of how well Microsoft Teams plays with other applications, here at Data#3 we recently used Teams to manage an audit project, integrating OneNote and Planner. Planner enabled tasks to be allocated to individuals with progress tracking visible to all team members.

OneNote brought order to unstructured data, rather than having it sit (and get lost) in a conversation thread. Excel was also used for tabling other tasks and information. But the true benefit came from the backend integration of SharePoint – with multiple parties editing at once, we were able to streamline our internal collaboration and review process.

Teams was critical for our collaboration which resulted in our successfully passing the audit.

Teams integrations also offer a great experience for collaboration with external organisations. With everything related to a project stored in one central location, Microsoft Teams eliminated the confusion and mess of saving, sharing and managing information with customers, partners and suppliers.

Need help maximising your Teams investment?

As Microsoft’s largest Australian partner, Data#3 is the ideal choice to help your organisation realise the possibilities within Teams, providing comprehensive strategies across the entire Microsoft ecosystem.

Contact a Data#3 Modern Workplace Specialist  to set up a Teams Workshop for your organisation.

1. Microsoft (2020), The future of work—the good, the challenging & the unknown [ONLINE]. Available here.

Tags: Cisco Webex Board, Collaboration, Microsoft, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Modern Workplace, Office 365, Video Conferencing

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