Cloud technology has been a driver for change in the workplace for more than a decade, and its importance was definitely experienced by many businesses in Sydney over the past year.

The pandemic forced everyone to think about collaboration and communication differently and cloud technology solutions are what kept us connected when employees had to go home to work in droves.

Prior to the pandemic, 28% of Australian businesses had employees that worked remotely from home. Once the pandemic started, that number jumped to 43% with remote workers.

Many companies are planning to keep remote teams in place permanently post-pandemic, which creates challenges for keeping everyone productively collaborating remotely and onsite.

Some of the top concerns for managers when it comes to WFH employees include:

  • Reduced employee focus (82%)
  • Reduced team productivity (82%)
  • Reduced team cohesiveness (75%)
  • Maintaining company culture (70%)
  • Employees overworking (67%)

We have several tips below that can help remote and onsite employees alike overcome those concerns and stay equally productive and connected with each other.

#1 Make a Point to Connect

When working onsite, it’s often easier to overlook conversations with remote team members and instead ask for project input from those at the next cubical. But it’s important to make a point to connect with each other, for both onsite and remote team members.

Being mindful about connection includes doing things like:

  • Hosting 1:1 video meetings to brainstorm or “run something by” someone.
  • Collaborate and co-author files in real-time in Microsoft 365.
  • Use online work hubs like Microsoft Teams to message and connect throughout the day.

#2 Get Creative to Combat Meeting Fatigue

Psychologists that study human behavior are finding a phenomenon they call “Zoom Fatigue,” which is fatigue due to all the video calls people are now having due to COVID.

One of the findings is that a lot of close-up eye contact is highly intensive, and that’s coupled with a higher cognitive load for video than in-person meetings.

You can combat this by using alternate features in video calls to change things up and reduce that intense eye contact. Such as using Together Mode in Microsoft Teams or using a gallery mode that allows you to see everyone on a call at once in the middle of the screen, instead of just the speaker.

#3 Create Opportunities for Everyone to Participate

It can be tricky in video calls to get a word in because you don’t want to interrupt the person talking. You can alternately create opportunities for participation by inviting team members to use Emojis for live reactions and the video’s chat capabilities to interject without interrupting.

#4 Use Effective Meeting Best Practices

People that use meeting best practices can save 104 minutes per week. You can set your video meetings up for success by using a few of these tips:

  • Prepare in advance and host pertinent files on shared storage, for example the Teams channel.
  • Use things like screen sharing, Microsoft Whiteboard, and background blur to focus the meeting.
  • Follow up by sharing relevant meeting resources afterward.

#5 Utilise Collaboration Tools

Even though programs like Microsoft 365 allow co-authoring right inside the document, many people still do things the “hard way,” such as emailing a Word document or PowerPoint back and forth to edit it.

Utilise collaboration tools like co-authoring in real-time, sharing files within central work hubs like Teams, and exploring virtual whiteboard capabilities to share ideas, virtual sticky notes, and more.

#6 Pay Attention to Team Productivity

Digital tools are great, but they can also get out of hand if not properly configured and controlled for attention focus. For example, if you have every app and website alerting you constantly, you’ll never be able to get anything done.

It’s important to silence alerts and use a “do not disturb’ status when you need to focus on a task. Go through your alerts and turn off those that aren’t absolutely vital (most will also send you a message another less urgent way, such as via email).

#7 Simplify and Automate Your Workflow

You can sort your mail as it comes into your inbox by hand, or you can use a mail rule to do it for you. There are many different automations you can use that streamline your workflow by having technology handle manual and repetitive tasks.

Look for prebuilt templates you can use to automate your workflows (in apps like Power Automate) and simplify your day by taking advantage of all the AI-powered capabilities of cloud apps.

#8 Streamline & Organise to Save Time

Searching for information on a task can take up hours per week in productivity time. Organising your tasks and projects upfront can save time and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Use tools like Outlook’s task manager, Microsoft To-Do, and OneNote to keep your day organised and offload data on a particular project all in one place, so you can easily find it later.

#9 Work Across All Devices

We’re no longer stuck using just one main computer to get work done. Take advantage of the mobility you get with cloud applications and utilise all your different devices for staying connected and transitioning from one place to another without losing connection with your colleagues.

#10 Think Big When it Comes to Virtual Connections

Applications like Teams allow you to bring together up to 1000 participants in interactive team meetings. You can also host and broadcast events that are meaningful to your customers, including the capability to have breakout rooms.

Think big when it comes to fully utilising your video capabilities, you can uncover opportunities for connecting inside and outside your organisation that go far beyond just a handful of meeting participants.

Get Help Keeping Your Onsite & Remote Team Effective and Connected

As a Microsoft Gold Partner specialising in Microsoft 365, NetCare can help your business put the cloud tools in place to foster a connected and effective team.

Contact us today to learn more. Call (02) 9114 9920 or reach out online.