Unique Microsoft Teams and Outlook Features for Your Remote Team

working remotely with Microsoft Teams and Outlook

In the past two years, we have heard from many organizations that it is hard to keep their remote team engaged. For some, team member churn increases, and team member proficiency and morale have decreased for others. We can all benefit from culture and tools to better revitalize remote employees and enhance communication and collaboration. How can you improve clear and open lines of communication in the remote workplace? Paying attention to the daily details of collaboration can make a significant difference. What makes coordinating meetings difficult for your team? How does your team manage presentations or collaborate remotely? How does your team communicate when they are out of the office or out for lunch? 

The workplace environment has changed. Many teams can no longer pop their head into a team member’s cubicle, but that level of visibility has only shifted – it’s not entirely gone.  

Microsoft Teams and Outlook permit team members more than one effective way to communicate remotely. We will cover some features that make booking time, presenting securely, document sharing and effortlessly displaying availability a breeze. 

FindTime and Schedule Meetings Without the Stress 

How amazing would it be to have an application that searches the schedules of team members you invited and ranks everyone’s available time. But ranking top times is not the coolest part; the application then sends the meeting options to attendees, so they can vote on the time they prefer. After gathering feedback from your team, the application reports the total tallies to you. 

Outlook’s FindTime offers the features mentioned above and more for your remote team. FindTime can also schedule time with individuals outside your team. The Outlook add-in minimizes the time spent organizing meeting times back and forth via email. Once you select the attendees needed for the meeting, FindTime handles the rest. FindTime even sends out the meeting invite on your behalf. You can confidently have your meetings knowing the time selected meets everyone’s needs (with less planning from you). 

Learn more here: How to create a FindTime poll (microsoft.com) 

Engage Your Audience with Microsoft Team’s Presentation Mode 

Anyone can accidentally share sensitive information when sharing their screen. Fumbling through how to share or not share a specific page can bring a range of emotions for the presenter and distractions for the audience. 

Microsoft Teams offers a more secure way to share your PowerPoints with PowerPoint Live, even if you have one screen. An embedded Microsoft Team feature, PowerPoint Live allows you to present your PowerPoint while viewing your notes, slides, and audience. When you utilize Microsoft Team’s presentation mode, you can view other windows and applications on your computer without showing your audience. As the presenter, you also have features that can reengage your audience, like a laser pointer, pen tool, and the ability to spotlight yourself during the presentation.  

Microsoft Teams PowerPoint Live is a presentation mode feature

PowerPoint Live can also accommodate your audience. Sometimes presenters move too fast before a listener can fully digest the information. Other times presenters change slides before their audience finishes note-taking. Microsoft Teams presentation mode helps your presentation fit your audience’s pace with features such as manually flipping through the slide deck or following along live and changing the language to help better their understanding if needed. 

File Share and Collaborate Securely in Microsoft Teams 

Sending files via email to receive collaboration can feel as out of date as hieroglyphics. Waiting for a response from a team member causes needless delays. 

You and your team can work on the same document at the same time regardless of your location. Each file tells you the last time the document has been modified, so you can better track what needs updating. While viewing the file in Microsoft Teams, the files’ location in your environment is visible to you as well. 

The days of worrying if your recent changes are saved on documents as you work are gone. Microsoft Teams automatically saves your progress with each new edit while synchronizing to your One Drive.  

While active in a Microsoft Teams meeting, you can take notes that you share with others and are available before, after, and during the session. You can also share files within the meeting chat to collaborate on documents in real-time (i.e., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). When your meeting ends, the files you have collaborated on are stored within the meeting. If your meeting reoccurs, those documents are readily available. Even if it is a one-time meeting, files are accessible at your leisure. 

Read more here: Collaborate on files in Microsoft Teams 

Easily Set Your Status for Improved Visibility 

Your remote team can see the availability of one another without question. Microsoft Teams can easily communicate across your remote team with colorful circles. Each team member has their name and image displayed, along with a colored circle: 

  • Green means available 
  • Red means busy or in a call 
  • Red with a white dash means do not disturb 
  • Yellow with clock hands means be right back or away 
  • White with a grey “x” means offline 
Microsoft Teams status update increases visibility

The circles are automatically set based on the team member’s daily schedule or online activity. Your remote team can also manually change the color displayed. Having these circles helps visibility when remotely working, as you have a better idea of when to reach out in real-time.  

You can also set a status that will display for a team member anytime they message you. How do you communicate to your team when you are away from your desk or working on a project? Set a status message with time duration, and it will display when someone on your team messages you. You can also mention another team member in your status, so your team has direction on who to direct their questions to while you are away.  

You can check team members’ statuses by pulling up their Microsoft Teams chat window.  

Microsoft Teams and Outlook Bring Teams Closer 

Whether you are new or a veteran of working remotely, Microsoft Teams and Outlook can save your organization time when it comes to communicating and collaboration. The instantaneous interaction that Microsoft Teams and Outlook features offer can restore time and increase visibility for your team. 

Your team can feel more comfortable remotely working when they can schedule meeting times that coincide with their teammates. You can present with ease and ensure your audience has the tools to focus solely on your presentation with limited distractions. Your remote team can stride closer to the finish line with projects and ideas when document sharing happens in real-time. Remotely communicating can be harmonious when availability reflects in an easily viewed status. 

An interactive world awaits through Microsoft Teams, designed to bring people closer no matter their distance. 

We covered only a smidge of Microsoft Teams features. Implementing these few tools will prove that brick and mortar is not the only place capable of a synchronized team environment. 

How to move forward? Like any change or process improvement, the next step is to plan well to help ensure a smooth transition. We encourage you to meet with our team during your planning process to benefit from the best practices we have learned along the way. We have worked remotely for the past decade, and we understand the challenges of staying engaged. 

If you are interested in learning more about features from Microsoft Teams, our team will joyfully answer any of your questions.