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Three collaboration features in Microsoft Teams for post-pandemic workforces

Please see our Work from Home guide for you to share with your teams. We hope you find this useful.

The world is finally starting to open up in 2021—but does that mean everyone will head back to the office? No, because the conventional thinking is that some workers will stay remote or do some hybrid version of both. What’s clear is there’s no going back to exactly what our pre-pandemic reality was in terms of physical working spaces. While many consider 2020 as the year that work moved home, for Amaxra and our customers it was the year work moved to the cloud.

As a provider of Microsoft cloud-powered solutions for small to midsized businesses, Amaxra took the bold step in 2020 to eliminate our formal office space and enable 100% remote working for all of our employees. Far from being a radical move, Amaxra’s flexibility for remote work follows the current trend of how over 80% of managers around the world intend to provide more flexible work from home policies for their employees in a post-pandemic world. The way that both Amaxra consultants and many of our customers have successfully enabled secure remote working is through the cloud-powered Microsoft Teams solution.

For businesses that haven’t already decided on using Microsoft Teams, here are three remote working features in Teams that Amaxra believes will help convince you to deploy Teams at your organization:

Inclusive online meetings anywhere

An oft-repeated complaint of remote working is online meeting fatigue. While very few people are pining for the “good old days” of sitting in a conferencing room in an office building, there is an advantage to having people physically in the same room for a discussion. Virtual meetings in Microsoft Teams are very good to begin with, but the Gallery and Together mode features help online meetings seem more like a physical in-person discussion in a couple of different ways. The Gallery mode enables users to see more colleagues at the same time in a grid format. Boomers and Generation X workers will instantly recognize this Brady Bunch-style visual presentation format, but the twist is that rather than only nine participants, Gallery view in Microsoft Teams can show up to 49 video feeds at once—although you realistically need a big monitor to see all 49 participants.

Together mode delivers a unique meetings experience inside Microsoft Teams. With this mode enabled, meeting participants are presented in a virtual shared space that can look like a conference room, a lecture hall, or a virtual space that could be customized with your company’s branding. The purpose of Together mode is to help reduce meeting fatigue by making online meetings more visually-appealing. And meeting hosts can instantly generate “virtual breakout rooms” to create subgroups in meetings for small, focused discussions.

Connect and engage with meeting presenters

Online meetings in Microsoft Teams offer dynamic views that automatically focus on the person speaking. These dynamic views can be controlled by the presenter or meeting host so that it can also focus on shared content such as a Microsoft PowerPoint slide, a web browser window, or user’s whole Windows or Mac desktop. However, the presenter can also choose to bring a human element to the forefront of the content they’re presenting in a more natural way. Using the built-in background effects feature in Teams, a presenter with a webcam can bring themselves into the presentation itself with “standout” mode. While sharing a screen in Teams, a user can change their presentation mode so that their face (or body, depending on how their webcam is set up) is seamlessly projected on top of the shared content. The standout mode experience help create a stronger connection with the audience as they can see the content while also reading the body language and facial expressions of the presenter. Amaxra consultants who have used the standout mode during presentations find that participants are more apt to stay engaged and are more likely to “get it” when a presenter uses humor in their delivery. Something we all could use more of these days!

Collaborate securely with outside partners

Microsoft Teams is crucial for internal employees wanting to collaborate with each other—and thanks to the cloud, collaboration no longer is confined with office walls. However, when sharing with people outside a company (e.g., the sprocket supplier for a widget manufacturer) the collaboration needs to be both secure and simple for everyone involved. Microsoft Teams Connect enables a company’s internal employees to create shared “channels,” which are essentially cloud-based secure virtual workspaces, for communicating and collaborating with users outside their organization. Security is controlled by the internal employees using Microsoft Teams Connect holding administrative control over who among a few external users can be granted access to these shared channels. Once allowed into the secure channel in Connect, external users can chat, attend meetings, and even collaborate on documents and apps seamlessly with internal employees in your organization. But those external users have strictly-controlled access to just those documents and apps you share with them—and only in Microsoft Teams. This ensures that an external partner cannot hack into your corporate network or cloud-based assets using Microsoft Teams.

Choose Amaxra as your Microsoft Teams provider

Online meetings in Microsoft Teams provide you with the future of work today. As your business transitions to a hybrid or pure remote workforce, it is crucial to provide a cloud-powered collaboration experience for your employees. Not only does Amaxra use Microsoft Teams in our day-to-day business, but we have also integrated it into many other businesses’ daily practices since the pandemic. And as Microsoft continues to add more features like the artificial-intelligence powered tools to provide instant translation of foreign speakers during meetings along with incredibly-accurate transcriptions of video meetings that include tags for action items and follow ups, Amaxra will help your company to take full advantage of these tools.

Feedback and comments are always welcome. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me at jp.odonnell@amaxra.com You can also connect with me via LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/jpodonnell2.

about the author

JP O'Donnell

Results driven leader who is able to quickly understand the business situation, create the strategic plan to address it, build consensus, then go execute it. Expertise developing strategy, tactics, and team members. Proven ability to drive revenue through new business acquisition and existing client management.

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