Collaboration for COVID-19 and beyond

Can’t you just piece together some free tools and wait for COVID-19 to end?

The stay-at-home orders resulting from COVID-19 have underscored the importance of collaboration—employees need to communicate effectively and work as teams while physically separated and working from home. But was collaboration really less important before COVID-19?

Today’s ways of working stand in stark contrast to 20 or 30 years ago when business collaboration was done face-to-face in offices or conference rooms, over conference room speakers, or on the phone. Even before the pandemic, business teams were more disconnected and remote than ever before—whether they were working from home, traveling for business, located in different buildings, jumping from meeting to meeting, or multi-tasking to keep up with their increased workloads and responsibilities to multiple teams. This phenomenon isn’t unique to the pandemic, but it is now in sharper focus.

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 Ten years ago, we thought of collaboration as sending around an email with a Word or PowerPoint attachment for recipients to edit. This produced multiple versions, conflicting edits, and a lot of confusion and wasted time. Today’s collaboration solutions are so much more than email and editing. They provide increased engagement with employees, partners, and customers. They enable teams to meet and collaborate on projects and problems in real time without the versioning nightmares or confusing email threads of the past.

How can your organization continue to work as if you are all in the same building or around the same conference table—whether during the pandemic or when business gets back to normal? 

The truth is we don’t know how long the pandemic will last or if the shutdowns will come in waves. We may have valuable employees that, for health reasons, just shouldn’t come into the office until the whole thing is over. We may have employees with young children whose schooling is periodically interrupted by additional closures until a vaccine is available. We just don’t know. The good news is investing now in a comprehensive collaboration solution—such as Microsoft Teams—will set your company up not only to get through the pandemic but also to collaborate better and be more productive in the future.

Here’s why it makes sense for your small or medium-sized business to skip the “free” tools and invest in a trusted collaboration solution like Microsoft Teams, included in all Microsoft 365 Business tiers.

Improved engagement with employees, partners, and customers
There is intrinsic value in being able to see the face and body language of those with whom you are meeting—to know that they are listening and engaged, to know that they aren’t sending texts or emails. Meeting “face-to-face” over video conference with your employees helps ensure engagement and teamwork. Working with external partners and customers is also easier with collaboration tools. Not only can you work together on projects or review and edit documents, you can also get a read on how they’re feeling by seeing their faces and reading their body language.

Tools that work together (and actually work!)
You’ve all probably been on an online meeting over the past two months where the free tool didn’t work at all, one member couldn’t figure it out, the viewers couldn’t see a document, and other delays. With Teams, you can send a meeting invite to your employees, or even external partner or customers, and they can join the meeting with the click of the mouse. You can hold staff meetings or project team meetings where you can edit documents, brainstorm on a whiteboard, send chats, create and assign project tasks, vote on times for your next meeting, and more—all with tools that are integrated with each other and connected to your core Office tools. Yes, there are free tools available that allow you to do these things individually, but they are not always reliable and do not work together, reducing productivity. In addition, they don’t provide the professional support included with a trusted collaboration suite needed when you do have a question.

Maximized productivity of teams, departments, company, external relationships
Collaborating effectively can not only help your company weather the COVID-19 storm, it can also help keep you collaborating when one member is traveling or working remotely. While it’s true that the most productive way to work on team projects, brainstorm, or make decisions is to have everyone engaged in the room, the reality is this rarely happens. Investing in a collaboration suite of products provides your business with tools needed to work as productively as if you were in the office. With connected tools for online meetings, screen sharing, audio calls, cloud file storage and syncing, real-time editing, on-the-fly chats, project management, task lists, email, video presentations, and more—all from a single vendor and with reliable support and training (even while stuck at home)—you can keep your business running now and in the future.

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