tech Microsoft 365

Managing a Remote Workforce Through a Crisis with Microsoft 365

Denise Ching July 28, 2020

5 MIN READ

While the practice of working remotely was previously creeping into a growing number of organizations, the current COVID-19 pandemic has turned it from an option to a necessity. Now, remote work is the new normal.

For many of us, remote work is a totally new concept, but even those organizations that are familiar with it at some level are struggling to adapt to its rapid, full-scale adoption. Managing a team during this time comes with some unique challenges, but luckily, there are many tools at your fingertips to help make the transition, leadership, and management possible with Microsoft 365.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams across desktop and mobile
Image: Microsoft Teams - MS Teams desktop and mobile.

Microsoft 365 for a Remote Workforce: Microsoft Teams

In our opinion, Microsoft Teams is the most valuable tool for a remote workforce in the Microsoft 365 suite and the one that has been leaned on the most during COVID-19. 

Microsoft Teams brings the best parts of Microsoft 365 together in a single tool. It is a powerful communication platform that serves as a teamwork hub, combining chat, meetings, file storage, and integration with many apps. Microsoft originally developed Teams to address the common problem of day-to-day communication faced by every business, and have continued to invest heavily in updating and improving it since then. 

Today we find our teams more spread out than ever, working in different places, on different devices, and at different times. Microsoft Teams is the best tool to support this new era of remote work and collaboration. 

There are a few key features of MS Teams that makes it especially valuable in the management of a newly remote workforce:

Chat

Chat is really the foundation of MS Teams. You can message, call, screen share, and add other people to the conversation all from a one-on-one chat. It allows you to have private conversations with one or many people, as well as public conversations with any Team that you are a member of. MS Teams chat allows for responses, replies, reactions, sharing of files and links, and other features. Conversations in chats, either with one person or a group, are all linear. They’re not broken up into smaller conversations, but instead, flow one after another. That makes it a richer, more real-time experience than using email.

Status Updates

With your team’s daily routines likely adjusted by the fact that they are now working from home, status updates are a great way to display your current status so that other users know when they should or shouldn’t reach out to you. Plus, using a status message means that you’ll know when you should or shouldn’t expect a quick response from your team members. This is an easy way to foster transparency and improve communication between team members, and a practice that you should institute for your organization.

Screenshot - Microsoft Teams Status Message in one-to-one chat
Image: Microsoft Teams Status Notification in Chat

Virtual Meetings

Meetings are a vital part of collaboration and something that can seem hard to replicate when operating with a remote workforce. Keeping your normal schedule of meetings, huddles, and check-ins helps to make working remotely still feel like working. Plus, adding video is super helpful as it allows teams to feel connected to one another and read each other’s body language.

MS Teams has a number of features that make scheduling, holding and reviewing video meetings so easy. Your calendar is available directly in Microsoft Teams so you don’t need to go to MS Outlook to check availability and schedule meetings. You can instantly launch a virtual meeting from a chat with audio and video. It also makes the sharing of content quick and easy.

Activity Feed

Think of the MS Teams Activity Feed as your new inbox. It aggregates your team’s activities in a single location and is a summary of everything that’s happened in all different channels that are on your team’s list.

If you feel like you’re getting spammed with MS Teams notifications now that everyone is relying on it so heavily, this can really help. You can use the activities feed to filter your activities by type – for example, unread messages, @mentions, or replies. When a red circle appears next to ‘“activity”, that means you have a notification in your feed. A notification will remain in your feed for 14 days and then expire.


If you’d like to learn more about Microsoft Teams and how to best leverage it with your team, check out our Microsoft Teams Top 10 productivity tips and tricks!

My Activity - Microsoft Teams Activity Feed in Microsoft Teams
Image: Microsoft Teams - 'My Activity' in Microsoft Teams Activity Feed.

Microsoft 365 for a Remote Workforce: SharePoint Online

For efficient collaboration, and to store important information on the cloud, a robust intranet on SharePoint in Microsoft Office 365 is key. With SharePoint, your employees are able to efficiently communicate and collaborate virtually on a global scale. 

For example, SharePoint Online helps remote team members working together on a project stay on the same page. Create a collaborative project site in SharePoint, outlining the project statement, individual roles and responsibilities of team members involved, a document library, and a task list. This way your team will have a focus point to connect them to each other and their work, making it easy to have alignment around the project, along with its progress and objectives.

Your team can also use SharePoint to connect to all their projects and tasks using ‘My Work’ reports, project dashboards, and the document library.

Microsoft Office 365 - Microsoft SharePoint - Dashboard display on mobile and desktop
Image: Office 365 - SharePoint

Microsoft 365 for a Remote Workforce: OneDrive for Business

OneDrive is a cloud-based file sharing service that is essentially Microsoft’s version of DropBox or Google Drive. Using OneDrive for Business allows you to share almost anything with your team, be it a document, video, project, spreadsheet, or more. It gives your 1 TB of space, which should be ample for any project.  

Need to collaborate on a Word document or Excel Spreadsheet? All individual documents and drafts are saved in OneDrive where files are private by default, but can be shared with others. Users can then save shared documents to the Teams or SharePoint sites where their group works.

You can also share documents in OneDrive with external stakeholders.

Real-Time Collaboration in Microsoft 365

For many of us, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are our most used Microsoft 365 programs. Using them with Microsoft 365 adds some incredibly useful tools for team members who are spread out. Once a file is in OneDrive or SharePoint, you can edit a single Word document or Excel file together, track all changes and leave comments or feedback. 

To add comments in Word, go to the ‘Review’ tab, select’ New Comment’, and add your comment. You can also reply to comments with ‘Reply’. To comment in Excel, right-click the cell you wish to comment on, select ‘New Comment’, and click the ‘Post’ button. Others can respond to your comment by right-clicking it and choosing ‘Reply to Comment’.

Multiple users can access and work on documents simultaneously, replicating the feel of a group huddle. This functionality also solves the problem of figuring out who has the latest version of a file – there’s only one file, in one place.

Microsoft 365 for a Remote Workforce: Outlook and Calendar

If your organization uses Microsoft 365, you will already be familiar with MS Outlook as an extremely powerful email management tool. The built-in calendar is great for setting virtual meetings and seeing when your colleagues are busy or free. As we previously mentioned, you can do these things in MS Teams too.

If you are confused as to when to use MS Outlook and when to use MS Teams, we recommend as a general rule to use email for the more formal things and Teams for more task-based communications that would otherwise clutter your inbox.

Microsoft 365 for a Remote Workforce: Yammer

When working remotely, especially when your team is used to working in the same space, keeping your team connected on a social level can be the most challenging thing. That is where Yammer comes in. 

Yammer is essentially Office 365’s answer to Facebook. It’s a social network for co-workers, a common space where they can feel like they are together, even when they are not, allowing them to maintain the bonds they developed working together in the first place.

Yammer allows them to just say hi, laugh at jokes together, share important updates – all of which are important parts of the social life of an organization that employees need to feel connected, informed, and bonded. These are the less measurable things the COVID-19 pandemic will take away from our teams, making them all the more important to protect.

Work Smarter in Microsoft 365 With Orchestry

Thanks to COVID-19, we are living through the world’s biggest remote work experiment. Luckily, with Microsoft 365, you have all the tools needed to successfully manage your team through this difficult time. 

Orchestry makes work simple in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, by empowering your IT Administrators and employees to define a winning Microsoft 365 adoption and change management strategy, with a roadmap of what to use when, for what purpose. Orchestry increases usage and adoption while empowering through governance and simplifies through intelligent provisioning in Microsoft 365, organization-wide at a fraction of the cost, on a subscription basis.

To see Orchestry in action, send us an email at hello@orchestry.com or start your free access now!

About the Author

Denise Ching Image

Denise Ching

Orchestry COO, PMP

Master operator, former Co-Founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and of BONZAI Intranet, this serial entrepreneur and Chief Operating Officer specializes in strengthening teams and the product delivery experience. She brings her operational prowess and client focus to Orchestry, working with organizations to ensure technology adoption success through methodical execution.

Beyond work, Ching is a city gal with a love of nature, animals, and gardening. A foodie, she delights in the various cultural culinary cuisines experienced in her travels. She resides in her hometown of Vancouver with her husband, daughter and four-legged fur baby

Introduction

This Privacy Policy explains what information Orchestry Software Inc. and its associated entities (collectively “Orchestry”) collect about you, why, what we do with that information, how we share it and how we handle the content you place in our products and services. It also explains the choices available to you regarding our use of your personal information and how you can access and update this information.

Privacy Policy Scope

Our Privacy Policy applies to the information we collect when you use one of our services, or when you otherwise engage with Orchestry Software, including, but not limited to:
when you visit our websites (“Websites“);
when you contact us for assistance;
when we connect with you as a prospective customer or as a customer;
when you attend customer or prospective customer events;
when you meet us at third party events, gatherings or meetups.
Orchestry is committed to protecting your privacy. This Privacy Policy applies to our websites (Websites), including www.orchestry.com, www.success.orchestry.com and www.app-dev.orchestry.com, owned and controlled by Orchestry.

This Privacy Policy governs our data collection, processing and usage practices. It also describes your choices regarding use, access and correction of your personal information. By using the Websites, you consent to the data practices described in this Privacy Policy. If you do not agree with the data practices described in this Privacy Policy, you should not use the Websites.

Information We Collect

We collect personal data that you submit to us via our website or third-party tools including, for example, when applying for a job via our website or requesting support in relation to one of our services.
You are free to explore the Websites without providing any Personal Information about yourself. When you visit the Websites, we request that you provide Personal Information about yourself, and we collect Navigational Information.

Information Collection & Access

Orchestry acknowledges that you have the right to access your Personal Information. If requested to remove data we will respond within a reasonable timeframe.

We may transfer Personal Information to companies that help us provide our service, such as those organizations as part of our Global Partner Alliance. Transfers to subsequent third parties for the sole purpose of responding to requests from Websites in the appropriate geography service territory.

“Personal Information”
This refers to any information that you voluntarily submit to us and that identifies you personally, including contact information, such as your name, e-mail address, company name, address, phone number, and other information about yourself or your business. Personal Information can also include information that you enter into on the Websites, and information about you that is available on the internet, such as from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google, or publicly available information that we acquire from service providers.

“Navigational Information”
This refers to information about your computer and your visits to this website such as your IP address, geographical location, browser type, referral source, length of visit and pages viewed.

We use Navigational Information to operate and improve the Websites. We may also use Navigational Information alone or in combination with Personal Information to provide you with personalized information about Orchestry.

Information About Children

The Websites are not intended for or targeted at children under 13, and we do not knowingly or intentionally collect information about children under 13. If you believe that we have collected information about a child under 13, please contact us at hello@orchestry.com, so that we may delete the information.

Information Usage

We use the information we collect only in compliance with this Privacy Policy.

In addition to the uses identified elsewhere in this Privacy Policy, we may use your Personal Information to: (a) improve your browsing experience by personalizing the Websites; (b) send information to you which we think may be of interest to you by post, email, or other means; (c) send you marketing communications relating to our business.

We will never sell your Personal Information to any third party. However, we may share or disclose your Personal Information as follows:
we may provide your information to our business partners, vendors or service providers who perform functions on our behalf;
in connection with, or during negotiations of, any merger, sale of company assets, financing, or acquisition of all or a portion of our business to another company;
as required by law, government officials, or other third parties pursuant to a subpoena, court order, or other legal process or requirement applicable to our Company;
when we believe, in our sole discretion, that the disclosure of personal information is necessary to prevent physical harm or financial loss;
to report suspected illegal activity or to investigate violations of our agreements.

Reviewing, Correcting and Removing Your Personal Information
Upon request, Orchestry will provide you with information about whether we hold any of your Personal Information. If you provide us with your Personal Information, you have the following rights with respect to that information:
To review the user information that you have supplied to us.
To request that we correct any errors, outdated information, or omissions in user information that you have supplied to us.
To request that your user information not be used to contact you.
To request that your user information be removed from any solicitation list that we use.
To request that your user information be deleted from our records.
To opt out of being solicited by Orchestry or third parties.

To exercise any of these rights, please contact us at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy. We will respond to your request to change, correct, or delete your information within a reasonable timeframe and notify you of the action we have taken.

Retention of Personal Information

We retain Personal Information that you provide us as long as we consider it potentially useful in contacting you our services, or as needed to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes and enforce our agreements, and then we securely delete the information. We will delete this information from the servers at an earlier date if you so request, as described in “Unsubscribe from Communication” below.

Customer Testimonials and Comments

We post customer testimonials and comments on our Websites, which may contain Personal Information. We obtain each customer’s consent via email prior to posting the customer’s name and testimonial.

Security of your Personal Information

We use a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect your Personal Information from unauthorized access, use or disclosure. We secure the Personal Information you provide on computer servers in a controlled, secure environment, protected from unauthorized access, use or disclosure.

Social Media Features

Our Websites include Social Media Features, such as the Facebook Like button and Widgets, such as the Share This button or interactive mini-programs that run on our sites. These features may collect your IP address, which page you are visiting on our sites, and may set a cookie to enable the feature to function properly. Social Media Features and Widgets are either hosted by a third party or hosted directly on our Websites. This Privacy Policy does not apply to these features.  Your interactions with these features are governed by the privacy policy and other policies of the companies providing them.

External Websites

Our Websites provide links to other websites. We do not control, and are not responsible for, the content or practices of these other websites. Our provision of such links does not constitute our endorsement of these other websites, their content, their owners, or their practices. This Privacy Policy does not apply to these other websites, which are subject to any privacy and other policies they may have.

Public Forums

We offer publicly accessible blogs, message boards and community forums. Please keep in mind that if you directly disclose any information through our public message boards, blogs, or forums, this information may be collected and used by others. We will correct or delete any information you have posted on the Websites if you so request, as described in “Opting Out and Unsubscribing” below.

International Transfer of Information

To facilitate our global operations, we may transfer and access Personal Information from around the world, including the United States. This Privacy Policy shall apply even if we transfer Personal Information to other countries.

Corporate Events

If we (or our assets) are acquired by another company, whether by merger, acquisition, bankruptcy or otherwise, that company would receive all information gathered by Orchestry on the Websites. In this event, you will be notified via email and/or a prominent notice on our website, of any change in ownership, uses of your Personal Information, and choices you may have regarding your Personal Information.

Cookies & Similar Technologies

Orchestry uses cookies or similar technologies to analyze trends, administer the website, track users’ movements around the website, and to gather demographic information about our user base as a whole.

The cookies we use on this website are broadly grouped into the following categories:

Essential: Some of the cookies on our website are essential for us to be able to provide you with a service you have requested. You may not be able to use our website effectively without these cookies.
Analytics: We use analytics cookies to help us understand how users engage with our website. An example of this is for counting the number of different people coming to our website, visiting a particular page or using a particular feature. Without this cookie, if you visited the website once each week for three weeks, we would count you as three separate users and this wouldn’t be a true representation. These cookies do not let us identify specific users as the information is aggregated.
Social sharing: We use cookies to allow you to share content directly to your social networking sites for example Facebook, Twitter and Google+ i.e. clicking Like on Facebook and Share on Twitter.
Interest-based advertising: You may have noticed that when you visit websites, you will be shown advertisements for products and services you may be interested in. Cookie information about certain pages you have visited on our website helps us be more relevant in our advertising. Having these cookies does not increase the number of adverts you will be shown on these specific sites. These ‘persistent’ cookies last no longer than 90 days, or until you clear them. These and the other cookies we use do NOT allow us to see what other sites you have been visiting, they simply act as a record of our web pages and advertisements that you may see.
Opt Out of Cookies
When you first visited the websites you will have been shown a status bar notifying you that this website uses cookies and inviting you to review this cookie policy. Once you have clicked to go further into our website, the cookie prompt will disappear, this confirms that you consent to us using the cookies detailed in this policy.
Please note that we can’t always control third party cookies (such as from social networks) stored on your machine from our website and where this is the case you will need to visit the relevant third party’s website directly to understand their cookies stored on your machine by them. Please see our ‘third party cookies’ section below.
If you want to reject cookies we use from this website you will need to:
Delete the cookies from your browser. Most browsers also allow you to prevent all or some cookies being stored on your machine in the future. For more information on how to delete or disable cookies from your browser please use the ‘help’ function within your browser, or alternatively visit www.allaboutcookies.org. By deleting our cookie preference cookie, the next time you visit our website the cookie status bar will appear again inviting you to again reconsider your preferences.
AND/OR: If you only want to reject the Internet Based Advertising cookies we store on your machine, you can opt-out of receiving these cookies at any time by going to the Internet Advertising Bureau website at http://www.youronlinechoices.com and following the opt-out instructions.
Please do be aware that disabling cookies may impact the functionality of this website.
Third Party Cookies
Some of the cookies described above are stored on your machine by third parties when you use our website. We have no control over these cookies of how the third party uses them. They are used to allow that third party to provide a service to us, for example website analytics. For more information on these cookies and how to disable them, please see:
Internet Advertising Bureau website at http://www.youronlinechoices.com/ where you will be able to opt-out of receiving Internet Based Advertising cookies from some of the third parties, such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
The use of cookies and web beacons by any tracking utility company is not covered by our Privacy Policy.

Log Files

We may collect demographic information, such as your region, preferences, interests and favorites using log files that are not associated with your name or other personal information. There is also information about your computer hardware and software that is automatically collected by us. This information can include: your IP address, browser type, domain names, internet service provider (ISP), the files viewed on our site (e.g., HTML pages, graphics, etc.), operating system, clickstream data, access times and referring website addresses. This information is used by Orchestry to provide general statistics regarding use of the Websites. For these purposes, we do link this automatically-collected data to Personal Information such as name, email address, address, and phone number.

Clear Gifs (Web Beacons/Web Bugs)

We employ a software technology called clear gifs (a.k.a. Web Beacons/Web Bugs), that help us better manage the Website by informing us what content is effective. Clear gifs are tiny graphics with a unique identifier, similar in function to cookies, and are used to track the online movements of Web users.  In contrast to cookies, which are stored on a user’s computer hard drive, clear gifs are embedded invisibly on Web pages or in emails and are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. We use clear gifs in our HTML-based emails to let us know which emails have been opened by recipients.  This allows us to gauge the effectiveness of certain communications and the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. We tie the information gathered by clear gifs in emails to our customers’ Personal Information. If you would like to opt-out of these emails, please see “Opting Out and Unsubscribing”.

Advertising

We partner with a third-party ad network to either display advertising on our Web site or to manage our advertising on other sites. Our ad network partner uses cookies and Web beacons to collect non-personal information about your activities on this and other Web sites to provide you targeted advertising based upon your interests.  If you wish to not have this information used for the purpose of serving you targeted ads, you may opt-out by clicking here: http://preferences.truste.com/ (or if located in the European Union, by clicking here: http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/). Please note this does not opt you out of being served advertising.  You will continue to receive generic ads.

Unsubscribe from Communications

You may unsubscribe from our marketing communications by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link located on the bottom of our e-mails, or by sending us email us at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy or our treatment of the information you provide us, please write to us by email at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Changes

We may amend this Privacy Policy from time to time. When there are changes to this Privacy Policy, we will update this page. The date on the bottom will always indicate when we last made changes.
Last Updated: July 28, 2020

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