Successfully transitioning your team to a remote-first environment is not for the faint of heart. Not only do you need to make sure your employees are logistically able to complete their daily tasks from any location, but at a basic level, you also need to make sure team members are able to collaborate, your data is secure, and employees remain productive with the capacity to innovate on a daily basis.
In order to create an efficient and effective remote work environment within your organization, you first need to find the right tools. With the high demand for digital solutions in the current COVID environment, there are several companies vying for your attention when you’re looking for the right tools to transition your team to remote work.
At Camber, we work across multiple products, and the Microsoft suite is frequently requested for transitioning to a distributed work environment. Just recently, we utilized Microsoft Enterprise Services through our work with AdventHealth to redistribute a large healthcare workforce to handle COVID-19 surges within a short period of time.
According to one of our internal Microsoft Enterprise Solutions experts, one of the advantages of using the MS ecosystem is that it takes approximately 70% less time to build products in comparison to conventional programming. This accelerated time to deployment can be critical to the solution’s success, particularly in the current environment. Our work with AdventHealth is just one example of how Microsoft Enterprise Solutions give clients the tools that they need to foster organizational efficiencies in a remote-first environment. Here are a few ways Microsoft Enterprise tools can help you manage a successful remote workforce.
Microsoft Teams is an essential hub for remote teamwork, satisfying core needs of your team. This tool provides a comprehensive platform where teams can chat, meet virtually, collaborate on content, and create and integrate apps tied to core workflows. Microsoft Teams is a great tool to help organizations stay connected in unique and creative ways.
In comparison to competitive video chat platforms, the Together Mode available on Microsoft Teams provides the unique capacity to place participants in a shared setting, such as a conference room, classroom, or coffee shop, where participants on the call appear to be in virtual seats. This diversity of digital experiences may help meeting participants to avoid fatigue and more closely simulates an in-person meeting experience. There are several other unique features within Microsoft Teams, such as the ability to capture meeting recaps following the virtual meeting, the capacity to split participants into smaller groups through the use of breakout rooms, and custom layouts which can make presentations look and feel more natural to the audience.
Microsoft Teams also offers the Microsoft Teams Power Platform which allows organizational leaders to create apps catered towards the organization’s needs through the use of low-code tools. In addition to providing the capacity for employees to build their own apps, Microsoft Teams also allows companies to integrate a wide range of third-party apps to streamline business processes and facilitate collaboration within the Teams platform.
Improve Employee Efficiency with Data
With the shift to remote work, you can’t rely on workplace observation and proximity to ensure productivity in the work environment. Rather, you need to carefully craft remote work policies to make sure employees are getting their work done without invading their privacy. The tricky part is that if work from home policies aren’t managed properly, they can go horrifyingly wrong.
Microsoft Workplace Analytics and Productivity Score are two analytics tools offered through Microsoft Enterprise that can help team leaders to monitor employee behavior in the remote work environment in a far less creepy way. These tools can provide managers with insights into how well team members are working together and how effective meetings are.
With employees being geographically dispersed, it is critical for managers to have clear insights into how employees are collaborating since it is the behavior and work ethic of these employees that determines the shape of the business moving forward. While there are a wide range of strategically beneficial reports within Workplace Analytics, a few include the capacity to conduct an analysis of top performers and several reports to assess how employees are spending their time.
These reporting capabilities provide companies with the insights that they need to improve how employees work, how they spend their time, and how to adjust internal operations accordingly. Through analyzing which individuals perform best internally and pairing this with an analysis of their respective behaviors, managers can figure out the relationships between workplace behaviors and results. This gives them the information that they need to alter internal processes accordingly to build stronger teams. Conducting analyses on how employees spend their time can give managers insights into the nuances of internal operations to make sure that employees are spending their time on tasks that will directly impact business outcomes.
Productivity Score, which is integrated into Microsoft Endpoint Manager, is another helpful analytics tool that provides insights into performance at the intersection of the employee experience and the technology experience. The tool can provide suggested improvements to let leaders know which systems need to be updated to give employees the technology tools they need in order to do high quality work.
Move Your Team onto the Cloud
Moving your team’s internal processes onto the cloud is optimal, as it makes it easier for teams to collaborate. This increased potential to work together more easily can increase organizational efficiency and productivity. Shifting to the cloud is particularly appealing in a remote environment, as it provides the opportunity for employees to work together across several different devices from any location. For many companies, moving to the cloud also gives leaders the flexibility to store and manage data effectively.
Cloud solutions can provide your organization with the flexibility to scale up or scale back as necessary to meet your organization’s changing needs. Microsoft Sharepoint is a helpful tool to streamline your organization’s workflow through providing the capacity to share internal files and resources. Sharepoint can help your team to quickly communicate and share key learnings, inform key internal stakeholders, and simplify complex organizational workflows.
Deploy Custom Apps and Internal Products
Teams don’t operate within a static vacuum. They operate within a rapidly changing business environment. In order to proactively reassess business strategies and priorities and adapt internal processes in response to changing needs, it is critical to have the essential technology solutions at your fingertips to quickly deploy custom apps and internal products.
Microsoft Azure is a great platform that enables teams to build solutions and deploy applications from any location. Using Microsoft Azure can help your development team to ship innovations more quickly while protecting against threats to your sensitive data. When utilizing this solution, your team will be equipped with the resources necessary to migrate to Azure. This proven cloud adoption framework will also allow you to leverage enterprise-scale analytics to generate real-time insights.
Development teams frequently leverage Azure Devops for planning, to manage backlogs and repositories, for release management, and for hosting apps, Azure functions, and databases.
The MS Power Platform, composed of Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI, and Power Virtual Agents, is another key platform that can help you to accelerate the time it takes to build custom applications. Power Apps is a low-code app building tool that can help you create custom solutions through utilizing prebuilt templates and a drag and drop functionality, empowering non-technical employees in building apps, automated solutions, and reports.
Leveraging low-code platforms like Microsoft Power Apps can help you to improve organizational inefficiencies, foster rapid innovation, and quickly capitalize on new market opportunities that arise. One major benefit of leveraging low-code platforms is that it can give non-technical team members the capacity to build sophisticated technology solutions, freeing up the time of your tech team to resolve more challenging issues. Not only does Microsoft Power Apps give you the tools you need to quickly build new apps, but it also allows you to update and alter them as needed.
When used in conjunction with Power Automate, Power BI, and Power Virtual Agents, you can automate several business processes. Power Automate allows employees to automate routine business tasks so that they can allocate their time to more advanced strategic priorities. Power BI is a useful tool to obtain insights from your data and visualize key trends. Power Virtual Agents is a platform that allows you to quickly and easily develop chatbots to streamline and improve the scalability of core business processes.
Simplify IT Practices
Through leveraging Microsoft Endpoint Manager, IT professionals are provided with the tools they need to make remote work secure and logistically possible for employees across the organization. This suite of tools can help your business to remain resilient in a challenging and rapidly changing business environment. Microsoft Endpoint Manager is particularly critical in a remote work environment, as it allows employees to set up their company devices remotely within a few hours rather than having to go into a physical office space to get their technology solutions set up. Additionally, employees are increasingly working off of their own technological devices to do work, such as their mobile phones. This suite of Microsoft tools allows employers to secure work files on employees’ mobile and desktop devices so that there is a lower likelihood of data leaks. Strategically leveraging these tools can increase employers’ confidence that sensitive information and internal data is safe and secure.
Additionally, through utilizing the Microsoft 365 monitoring suite of tools with device health and remediation capabilities provided, your internal IT team will be able to focus more on delivering value to the organization and less on troubleshooting issues tied to existing applications. In the current business environment, it is likely that your internal IT team members are stretched incredibly thin, often forced to make the decision between resolving new issues that arise and progressing new initiatives. Through leveraging the right Microsoft enterprise tools, you can achieve both simultaneously. Integrating these tools into your workflow can empower non-IT team members to troubleshoot more independently which will provide your IT team with the capacity to focus on more technically intense and higher priority work.
Maintain Security and Compliance
One of the biggest challenges that companies face when transitioning to a cloud-based environment is to prevent data leaks and to ensure that all information remains secure. The great thing about Microsoft enterprise solutions is that the suite of services nicely complement one another to simultaneously provide your organization with the flexibility that you need to innovate and the security solutions that you need to do so without fear that private information will be compromised.
Microsoft Defender provides a unified security solution that spans both Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure. This tool helps to detect, prevent, and respond to any imminent threats that arise across existing applications and cloud platforms. Microsoft Defender provides real-time protection through utilizing file and process behavior monitoring tools and cloud-delivered protection. The antivirus software is consistently updated to make sure your security solutions are up to date.
In addition to maintaining tight security through Microsoft Defender, Microsoft’s Compliance Manager can help your organization to ensure they are meeting all essential regulations at the industry and regional levels. With the compliance environment changing on a daily basis, it can be difficult to keep up with new requirements. Through simplifying the compliance and risk reduction process, this tool helps you to do just that. Within the Compliance Manager, you will have access to a dashboard that showcases your compliance score and provides recommendations as to what steps you need to take to meet the components of your compliance solution that require your attention.
With the rapid transition to remote work, it is important that leaders put the right tools and strategies in place to set teams up for success when working remotely. While organizational needs differ, at a minimum, most companies need to provide employees with the capacity to share files, organize notes, communicate in real time, and digitally build a company culture.
Given that Microsoft Enterprise Solutions offers a range of useful tools for different aspects of remote work, it is important to take a step back and try to understand what solutions you really need to improve the quality of the remote work environment that you’ve created. Depending on your organizational goals and internal processes, certain tools may be more relevant and critical than others so it is important to try to integrate the tools that will be a strong fit for your organizational needs.
If you are looking for ways to better leverage your Microsoft enterprise tools, we are eager to work with you and to provide a free consultation. Our Camber Creative Microsoft experts are here to help with every phase of your project from problem definition to product development and ongoing managed services. We can assist with custom app development, cloud migrations, expedited deployments and assessments of your current configuration. We look forward to collaborating to help you get the highest possible return on your technology investments!
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