Over the course of the past few years, the use of video conferencing tools has truly exploded. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, technologies like Microsoft 365 were only used sparsely by businesses, many of whom were hesitant to adopt a hybrid working model due to the unknown impact on workplace culture and productivity.
When mandatory lockdowns forced thousands of companies to switch to remote working, however, teams had to rely on holding virtual meetings in order to stay in touch with colleagues and clients alike, leading to a massive uptake in video conferencing usage. This is illustrated by figures from Microsoft, which show that the number of active daily users on Teams grew from 75 million in April 2020 to 115 million in October 2020, and then to 145 million in April 2021.
With hybrid working having become the norm for many organisations and seemingly being here to stay, it appears that the use of programmes like Microsoft Teams is unlikely to fall back to its pre-pandemic levels. While many workers have celebrated the rise of Teams, and the time and money it has saved them on traveling to and from the office and meetings, others have not been quite as enthusiastic, believing that the same level of collaboration and creativity associated with physical meetings cannot be replicated through virtual ones held online.
However, there are many ways to enhance virtual meetings on Microsoft Teams that they and many other workers may not be aware of.
Share your schedule
One criticism that is sometimes levelled at virtual meetings on Teams is that it can often be more difficult to organise a meeting time remotely than when in a physical place of work.
This is because working from home can create a conflicting schedule. For example, people may have kids to look after, food shops to do, or housework that needs taking care of. Conversely, when in the office, everyone has a clearer picture of one another’s schedules, so arranging a time to sit down and talk can be more straightforward.
By sharing their active hours, however, workers can bypass any scheduling issues that may arise while working from home, enabling meeting organisers to find a suitable time for everyone involved far more easily.
Make the most of the tools at your disposal
Many Microsoft Teams users may not be aware of the broad range of functionality tools that comes as part of the package and are specially designed to improve virtual meetings.
Perhaps the most significant of these tools is Whiteboard, a free-form, digital canvas that allows people, content, and ideas to come together via the platform. If this is prepared and organised prior to meetings, participants are likely to find it a useful feature for compiling and comparing thoughts, or simply for use as a visual aid.
Recording meetings can also be an effective means of working more efficiently as a team. With the functionality in place to record events and refer to live transcripts, the pressure to take extensive notes throughout the meeting is largely removed, meaning participants can focus more on the issues at hand. What’s more, anyone who is unable to attend the meeting can watch the recording at a later date, meaning they don’t need to miss out on what was discussed.
Cultivate an inclusive Teams culture
Something that most people who have used Microsoft Teams over the course of the past few years will have noticed is that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to meeting settings.
For example, some people may prefer to have their camera off for the duration of the meeting, while others will see it as a basic expectation that everyone present is visible. Rather than forcing workers to engage with virtual meetings in ways that they don’t feel comfortable with, employers should accept individuals’ decisions on Teams to encourage them to join meetings and contribute to them. By doing so, they can create a healthy and respectful working atmosphere without any undue pressure placed on individuals to engage in ways they aren’t comfortable with.
Virtual meetings can be more productive than physical ones
It could actually be argued that virtual meetings held via Teams can be far more versatile and accessible than those held in physical workspaces. The problem, however, is that many organisations are still not clear how to get the most from their use of the software.
By working with a specialist provider of Microsoft 365 and Teams services, companies can enable their teams to thrive by promoting stronger collaboration and productivity in remote work settings.
The great ‘work from home’ experiment that COVID brought about has, in many ways, proven to be far more successful and sustainable than many organisations would have previously thought, but there are still those who are sceptical about the quality of virtual meeting when compared with their physical counterparts. However, by exploring the seemingly unlimited possibilities of Microsoft Teams, they may well discover that remote working does not have to be a barrier to, and can in fact be a facilitator of, better, more focused and collaborative meetings.
How can Vantage 365 help you?
Vantage 365 is a specialist consultancy that helps businesses of all sizes get the most from their investment in Microsoft 365’s powerful suite of business tools and productivity apps. Our team of expert consultants has years of experience creating customised solutions, applications and strategies to optimise our clients’ technology, capabilities, and performance.
Our mission is to help every client reach their true potential by future-proofing their business and enabling them to thrive in today’s digital landscape. From small businesses to large enterprises, we understand that each company has unique needs and goals, and we work closely with our clients to develop tailored solutions that address their specific challenges.
Whether streamlining workflows, improving collaboration, or enhancing security, we have the expertise to maximise the benefits businesses receive from their investment in Microsoft 365. Our commitment to ongoing support and service ensures that our clients continue to achieve success and stay ahead of the curve in today’s rapidly evolving business environment.
Get in touch today to discover the potential of your Microsoft Subscriptions. We look forward to hearing from you.