In our last blog, we discussed the importance of human connectivity—the ability of humans to connect with each other with as much efficiency, speed, and accuracy as when they are in the same room. This is especially important during remote work due to COVID-19. Organizations can enable human connectivity through technology. But what are the components of technological connectivity that can best help your business do this?
Most of us have experienced frustration at some point over the past six months when trying to perform our job responsibilities remotely. The access code doesn’t work, or you didn’t receive it, so you can’t join the meeting. Or maybe you can join the meeting, but can’t hear, or your mic isn’t working. Perhaps some of the files you need to do your job are on a server in the office and can’t be accessed unless someone physically retrieves them. Or maybe your VPN won’t work. The best connectivity is the kind that fades into the background—that we never think about. It’s just always there and it works. When connectivity becomes the star of the show because of any of these challenges, it creates frustration and sideways energy that pulls us away from human connection and keeps us from doing our jobs efficiently.
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It goes without saying that to be successful, organizations need a minimum amount of power or performance in their backend systems. How much they need is determined by the individual circumstances of the business. Logic Speak provides these components that can be centrally managed from a single pane of glass and configured from anywhere. But beyond switches, routers, and networks, what can best help your company survive and thrive during COVID or the next emergency? The Logic Speak clients who have been able to operate as normally as possible during the COVID shutdowns were those who had invested the most in cloud versus client-server and were using Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams.
Cloud over client-server
Working in a cloud environment enabled many of our clients to make the jump to remote work easily and efficiently. Many of these businesses had nothing in their offices that required them to be there—everything their employees needed could be accessed from anywhere in the world. As a result, they lost nothing in terms of productivity and efficiency due to their technological connectivity. By contrast, our clients with VPN technology were able to work, but they were not as efficient or agile as those with cloud-based solutions. In addition, VPN can introduce significant security issues when your whole family is on the same home network.
Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams
Obviously, there is a downside to not being in the office face-to-face with coworkers, even if you can access your work easily. That is where the value of Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams lies. For our clients, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams have been a major differentiator in enabling efficient connectivity among remote workers. The platforms incorporate instant messaging (in chat rooms and between individuals), audio and video calling, rich online meetings, mobile experiences, extensive web conferencing capabilities, file and data access, tool integration, project planning and tracking, and much more. The ability of the products to enable department, team, and individual communication and collaboration has been invaluable in continuing to work as close to normal as possible during COVID.
For example, email is one of the least personal forms of electronic communication, yet many organizations continue to depend on it to conduct much of their business—even for quick and easily answered yes-or-no questions. Just like sending a physical letter through the U.S. mail, when you send an email, you don’t know if it has been received or opened until the recipient responds. Email is not an always-connected form of communication, but many use it as if it is. Most of us have gotten a call from someone who is following up on an email they sent ten minutes ago. Imagine if, instead, you could send a question from a chat box—without leaving the application you are working in—and get an answer instantly.
For organizations that use Teams, emails can be replaced by sending one-on-one or group chats from within the platform they use to do their work. This not only increases efficiency, it also allows coworkers to have interactive conversations, giving them human connection. If they want, those who are chatting can even jump on a voice or video call straight from the chat window without setting up and sending out an invitation. The chat feature also cuts down on the mountain of email that piles up in your inbox. Chat conversations are stored and easily accessible in case they are needed for reference.
Teams also enables you to see the status of all of your coworkers to determine whether or not they are busy. The status can even indicate with whom they are talking and when they will be done. This capability helps employees know when it is a good time to connect and collaborate and when it is not.
Microsoft Teams also features the ability to form teams or groups around departments, projects, and more. These teams or groups enable members to send or receive information faster because they can post and collaborate in the team room that is specific to the context of the project. For example, a marketing team might have a channel for campaigns. Members communicate and collaborate about the campaign in the campaign channel. All information about the campaign—chats, real-time documents, and more—are stored in the channel and easily accessible. No more searching or trying to sort emails or trying to find the right version of a document that you are collaborating on. The information is all there in one place.
In addition to the human connection benefits of Teams, there is an efficiency benefit. There is always inefficiency created when you stop working in one application and move to another platform. When Teams becomes the single connectivity vehicle for your entire company, all of your files, chats, audio, video, internal and external communication, and all other parts of Microsoft 365 are integrated into Teams. This enables employees to stay focused and work more efficiently—during COVID and when things get back to normal.