The worldwide health crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic led to a record number of businesses allowing their employees to work from home. Thanks to a sufficiently digitized work landscape — i.e., employees are used to receiving information, creating output, and sharing documents virtually — the transition has worked well for the most part. In fact, it’s worked so well that some pundits believe that remote working will be here to stay long after the pandemic is gone, whenever that may be.
In this respect, interpersonal communication has been and will be the greatest challenge. Thankfully, communications platforms such as Microsoft Teams go a long way toward solving the problem. Because of the instant messaging, voice and video calls, conferencing, file sharing, and screen sharing capabilities these offer, most of the functional gaps that arise from remote working have been addressed.
The one thing that remains missing from the remote work setups of most businesses is the “feel” of being in an office — the sense of fun and connectivity that arises from sharing space with one’s colleagues. But while sharing space isn’t a standard functionality of Teams, Teams does have features that can approximate that office feel if used correctly.
Here are a few tips to do just that.
Embrace emojis, GIFs, stickers, and memes
Employees may be encouraged to maintain a professional tone and formal style when composing emails, but this doesn’t have to be the case when it comes to instant messaging. While emails serve the purpose of official documentation, platforms like Teams serve more to facilitate casual conversations between and among co-workers. Naturally, these conversations include friendly banter and the occasional joke.
So much of verbal communication is expressed through tone and body language, and pure text often doesn’t measure up. It’s a good thing Teams offers emojis, GIFs, stickers, and memes to fill this gap. Teams has plenty of readily available visual supplements, and also permits users to create their own, so encourage your team to express themselves fully when using the platform, and save the stiffness for emails.
Spice up video calls with Snapchat filters
Video calls bring back a lot of the face-to-face flair to workplace communication. Teams allows users to add that extra zing to their conversations with filters by way of the Snap Camera, an add-in from the developers of the social media app Snapchat. These filters modify the video feed of users’ faces by superimposing images, warping the display, or otherwise editing the feed. The Snap Camera feature has proven immensely popular among personal users of Snapchat and may add some silliness and liveliness to video-based face-to-face conversations on Teams as well. As with instant messages, not all online meetings need to be so formal.
Mise en scène
If Snapchat-style face filters are a little too over the top, video calls can still be made more lively through the use of interesting backgrounds. Teams allows users to superimpose themselves onto any number of preset or user-selected backgrounds, transporting them to anywhere they want to be. These can be great conversation starters, or otherwise just provide some visual stimulation when users are tired of one another’s drab environments.
Perhaps the ultimate video feature of Teams is the Together Mode for conference calls. It places all attendees into a single shared environment and even allows them to interact in limited ways, such as high-fiving each other or tapping their neighbors on the shoulder. Together Mode is the closest a team can be outside of physically being in the same room together.
With Microsoft Teams, working remotely doesn’t have to mean feeling remote. Give F1 Solutions a call now and bring back the fun to your operations.