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Microsoft Industry Blogs - United Kingdom

Man working on tablet in cafe Over 4 million workers in the UK work remotely, according to TUC. This makes up almost 15 percent of the workforce, and this number is increasing year over year.

If you aren’t part of a company where you all work remotely, chances are you occasionally work from home, or while you’re offsite with customers.

Managing a remote team can be tricky and comes with its own set of quirks that an office wouldn’t usually have. The most difficult issue people raise with remote teams is trust.

Trust is something you ultimately have to just ‘feel’, but you can help remote teams create seamless working relationships, respect, and mutual trust by leveraging leadership tools and technologies that help you cultivate this in your organisation.

Here are four tools that will help manage remote teams:

Video Calling

We did a global study into the way workers communicate and found that despite all the tools available to them, people strongly prefer face-to-face meetings over any other forms of communication.

But how can you do this in a remote team? 41 percent of remote workers in the survey strongly favoured video conferencing, and it’s a great way to save travel time and costs to bring people together for team meetings.

Video conferencing tools such as Skype for Business let your remote workers see each other face-to-face, get a feel for personality and mood, pick up on body language nuances and intonations, making it easier to share ideas, have tough conversations, and collaborate.

Affinity Workforce is one of the UK’s largest privately owned public service recruitment companies, and thus are spread across the country. They use tools like Skype to communicate. “Our offices are geographically spread but communication tools like Skype and Yammer help to bridge those gaps and bring people closer together,” says Chris McCall, CTO at Affinity Workforce.

Instant messenger

Email is a great tool to communicate, but did you know that while employees spend half the day dealing with emails, only 14 percent of them are actually relevant?

For remote teams, a great way to have those quick conversations is via instant messenger. Whether it’s a quick question to do with work, or replacing those morning tea kitchen chats, it’s a great way to have those spontaneous chats that often happen in a traditional office space on the fly.

Software developer iSalon uses Microsoft Teams to stay in touch remotely. “I communicate with people in the office and remote locations differently with Microsoft 365,” says Ryan Taylor, IT Manager at iSalon. “Instead of long email chains we can have a group conversation on Teams that is instant and stored for easy retrieval. I love how we can link Twitter feeds into Teams to keep on top of the latest highlights of our offerings and customer feedback.”

Shared workspaces

Speaking of Microsoft Teams, there’s a good chance you will want to collaborate on documents and processes. This, of course, can be done via email, but version control will soon become a confusing mess.

This is where shared workspaces come in such as Teams, or SharePoint. By giving one central location that everyone can access, no matter where they are, to work on the same files in real time – and see what others have done – you can maintain version control and simplify the creation process.

At London-based non-profit Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), they were struggling with their remote desktop system. It was prone to delays and workers struggled to collaborate and be a part of the company. This all changed when they moved to Microsoft 365.

“People were able to share documents easily and edit online without version control issues. Our internal collaboration pain points disappeared,” said Head of Digital Sebastian Ailioaie. “People can work from anywhere without issues.”

Shared virtual task lists

When you’re working with teams online, keeping everyone up to date on shared projects can be a little challenging. With virtual task lists, your team can see lists of all their tasks and their status, which makes keeping everyone ‘in the know’ simple.

To streamline these task lists, some apps give you the option to attach files to tasks, collaborate on these files, share notes, and even have conversations about them without having to use a separate app, which makes it easy to work on when people’s schedules don’t sync up.

iSalon has seen immediate gains in productivity from this. “We’ve found Microsoft Teams to be a game changer. As soon as you open it, you’re ready to find, share, and add information. You can even start a voice or video call right from a discussion in Teams,” says Taylor. “Collaboration is faster and simpler. With everyone’s apps available in Microsoft 365, remote workers have the same experience as people in the office. Everything is saved to, and accessible in, OneDrive.”

The rise of the remote workers

The popularity of remote working is rising – it’s projected that half of the UK workforce will be remote by 2020, so it’s important to invest in the technology you need to create collaborative experiences, develop relationships, and deliver outstanding projects.

Find out more

Ten tips to help your team work as one

The ultimate guide to teamwork

 

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