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March 31, 2020

How to Use Office 365 for Remote Teams?

By Brian McHale

Is the future of work remote? It certainly seems so.

With more and more companies switching to remote working because of significant savings and global events, remote working is becoming the new normal for numerous teams around the world.

But how can teams stay in touch and collaborate while working from home?

In this article, we’ll show you how teams working remotely can use Office 365 to succeed.

Let’s take a look!

 

The Challenges of Teams Working Remotely (and How to Solve Them with Office 365)

While remote work certainly has its fair share of benefits, there are a few hurdles remote teams have to overcome in order to successfully complete projects.

Read on, and we’ll show you how to solve them!

 

Remote Team Collaboration

According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2019 report, one of the most common challenges remote teams face is ineffective collaboration.

When teams are in the same office, collaboration is easy.

They can get all the documents they need by strolling down the hallway and chatting to their coworker.

But when they’re working from home, they need a reliable tool for centralizing information.

Forget about hours of emailing back and forth to get the documents you need.

At the same time, they need to be able to collaborate on projects with other team members as easily as they would at the office.

 

The Solution for Remote Team Collaboration: SharePoint Online

SharePoint is one of the most important Office 365 apps in your stack if you manage remote teams.

SharePoint Online

SharePoint serves as a central hub for your remote team’s documents.

Every team has their “website” – a virtual workspace where their documents, files, and notes live.

If your team members are looking for something specific, they can easily use the search & filter function.

This significantly helps with knowledge sharing, and makes long email threads obsolete.

In addition to sharing and collaborating on documents in real time, SharePoint also allows you to create knowledge bases:

  • Working on a project? Simply upload your project plan and your entire team will know why their effort matters.
  • Creating a process? Explain it, and upload it as a document to SharePoint so your remote team members have a road map to success.
  • Tired of sending separate notifications? Create an automated workflow.

And since SharePoint Online is part of the Office 365 collaboration suite, you don’t have to pay for it separately or worry about integrations.

 

Remote Team Communication

Communication is another challenge for teams working remotely. This is a pretty big obstacle; 1/3 of projects fail because of poor communication.

Why?

  • Teams can’t meet up as often as they do in offices
  • Getting in touch with your colleague isn’t as simple as walking to their desk
  • Some team members are just better at verbal communication than written.

Additionally, a lot of remote teams work from different locations and time zones. Responses can lag.

 

The Solution for Remote Team Communication: Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a great Office 365 suite app that can help your team communicate seamlessly, no matter where in the world they are.

Microsoft Teams

The three main Microsoft Team features are:

  • Online meetings
  • Instant messaging
  • Real-time collaboration.

 

Firstly, your team can meet from anywhere, via voice or video.

This makes everyone feel like they’re in the same room. It boosts the trust teams need to seamlessly collaborate.

Launching video conferences is easy in Microsoft Teams.

All it takes is a push of the right button, and you’ll be good to go!

 

Secondly, your team can constantly stay in touch with MS Teams team chat.

It’s not exactly water cooler chit chat, but it can make up for it.

If you’ve ever used Slack, then you’ll have no problem using MS Teams’ chat.

Your team members can share their opinion, discuss feedback, and get the information they need to do their jobs.

 

Finally, your team can collaborate on files in real time.

Teams allows your team to access, share, and collaborate on Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files in real time. This is pretty handy.

Forget about manually logging in, leaving your comments, or – even worse – sending them by email.

 

Feedback: centralized.

All in all, MS Teams is a really powerful solution for team communication.

Since it also offers video conferencing, and integrates tightly with the rest of the O365 collaboration suite, it makes life a lot easier for teams working remotely.

 

Task Management for Teams Working Remotely

When you work remotely, it’s very hard to keep track of tasks. Especially when you’re working on complex projects.

In an office, this is simple – you hold meetings, check up on team members during the day. It doesn’t require a lot of effort.

But when you’re working remotely, task and team management suddenly take a lot more time and effort.

If you haven’t planned everything in advance, you’ll be handling complaints such as:

  • “But I had no idea that task was my responsibility!”
  • “Can you remind me, when is that task due?”
  • “I didn’t get the materials from Joe, so I couldn’t finish my part of the work.”

All in all, task management can get messy when you’re working remotely.

That’s why you need a good task management solution.

This is especially important if your team is working on projects.

If you’re handling routine tasks that they’ve been handling at the office, as well, you could get by.

But if you have a project to get done, read on.

 

The Solution for Remote Task Management: Project Central

Project Central is a great task management tool for teams that work remotely.

Projects Pane

You can visually organize your projects with cards, each one having it’s own task list inside:

  • Create projects
  • Add project managers and team members
  • Assign tasks to team members.

If you need to change something, just drag & drop.

It’s pretty simple; Project Central doesn’t have a learning curve at all.

Even if your team isn’t proficient at tech, you’ll be able to get everyone on board.

Secondly, you can increase visibility across your team.

There won’t be any confusion.

And because Project Central integrates tightly with the Office 365 suite, you can upload and attach your files to tasks, and collaborate on them in real time.

 

Remote Teams Struggle with App Stacks

One of the trickiest challenges teams working remotely face is building an app stack.

Normally, teams have different tools for different purposes.

Some use Slack as a team chat, Asana for project management, Google Drive for collaboration.

The costs stack up much like the apps, and switching tabs hinders productivity.

At the end of the day, teams switch to email because even that is easier than remembering log-in information for dozens of different tools.

 

The Solution for Integrated Collaboration: Office 365

Integration is one of the first reasons why you should seriously consider Office 365 for remote team collaboration.

Office 365 includes:

  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • Excel
  • Teams
  • SharePoint.

 

Word, PowerPoint and Excel are pretty common.

However, Microsoft has recently enabled online collaboration, so if you know how to collaborate on Google Docs, you’ll know how to collaborate on Word, PP, and Excel docs.

Microsoft Teams facilitates instant communication.

Even if your team members get lonely (and this is one of the main problems for remote workers), they can easily start up a video conference with their colleagues.

SharePoint Online takes collaboration to a higher level.

Create automated workflows, store all the files your team needs, sync RSS feeds to get the freshest information and stay competitive… Not even the sky is the limit.

There’s no need to remember different log-in information or manually transfer files. Everything is 100% integrated within the O365 suite.

 

Add all of these to Project Central and your team members can log in with their same Microsoft email addresses and passwords.

They’ll be protected by the highest Microsoft-level security.

Project Central really is the best solution for teams working remotely using Office 365.

Forget about headaches, and start collaborating!

Get started with simple project management for teams using Office 365.

All-inclusive, No Per-user Fee. Unlimited Projects.

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