If you work with people in the corporate and business arena, they’re going have hybrid working on their mind.
As a professional assistant, you are in a strong position to offer value.
Organisations and employees have undergone what’s been described as “the biggest working from home experiment in the world”.
Giving people secure laptops, time tracking apps, and access to Zoom and Microsoft Teams, was all part of the first phase of widespread remote working.
The next stage is all about what the future model of work life is going to be.
Big Brands are Split on the Way Forward
Whilst the likes of Google appear to be in favour of bringing employees back to the office, other big tech companies (including Facebook, Amazon and Salesforce) seem to be embracing the hybrid approach.
Spotify are continuing to offer their people the chance to work from anywhere they would like.
The most likely scenario is that hybrid working will become the norm. Some days in the office. Some days working remotely, typically from home.
According to Cisco, 98 per cent of all future meetings are likely to have at least one person participating remotely.
Whilst sole traders and much smaller businesses might be making do with Zoom alone, the typical SME or larger brand organisation will be making use of Microsoft Teams.
If they’re using Microsoft Office, they already have it. And they can hold virtual meetings and calls with Teams – with or without the use of Zoom.
Many Organisations are Not Making the Most of It
It’s one thing to have the hardware and the software in place. It’s another thing, entirely, to have all your people using it productively, efficiently and for smooth collaboration.
This is where the smarter-working assistant can step in and support.
If the organisation has not provided training in Microsoft Teams for its employees, perhaps this is something you could help with – or maybe you could assist them in finding a reputable trainer.
Because if people lack competence or confidence in how to use the tools, it will affect their ability to work. It creates inefficiency, weakens communication and hinders the flow of collaboration.
Investment in training in Teams will repay itself many times over.
Highlight the Functions and Benefits
As an assistant, with knowledge of how to tame Microsoft Teams, you are in a position to help colleagues, bosses and clients maximise the power of the tools.
During the past year, for example, Microsoft has seen the number of active users of the Whiteboard feature in Teams increase 12-fold.
People can use it to share ideas, brainstorm and keep adding to it. There’s none of that “Can someone take a picture of the whiteboard and share” anymore. It’s all saved automatically and everyone has access to the latest version.
Sometimes it can be useful to prepare the whiteboard in advance of a meeting. Is that something you could do, might be asked to do or can suggest is done?
And, if you know Teams well, you’ll know that a whiteboard can be added to a ‘channel’ – for a specific project or longer-term discussions by relevant team members.
It’s Easy to Forget How Much Teams Can Do
If there is a large meeting using Teams, there is scope to use virtual breakout rooms to allow for smaller group discussions and conversations. Each ‘room’ can have its own interactive whiteboard.
Microsoft Teams also allows you to run polls during meetings. This is a simple and effective way to secure feedback – either on ideas, presentations or training sessions.
And, of course, virtual meetings have presented an additional challenge for leaders, presenters and trainers.
When you are in a room with people (remember those days?) you can see their expressions and how they are responding to what you are saying and sharing.
That is much more difficult online.
One of the ways Microsoft addressed this issue was to create PowerPoint Live in Teams. It allows the speaker and the audience to have an enhanced experience.
Presenters can review notes, engage in chats and actually see their audience – all in a single view – and allow a smooth transition to another presenter. None of that clunky switching.
Meeting attendees also enjoy a better experience. They can use hyperlinks and interact with videos, taking content in at their own pace, and ask questions via chat message.
Your colleagues or clients may not realise the full capabilities of Microsoft Teams. You can give them the heads up and lap up the thanks for making it easier for everyone to be more collaborative and productive.
No Longer a ‘Good to Know’
If you are a professional assistant, you may already have a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office and 365. (If not, it will pay you to explore online training options).
But Microsoft Teams is a relative newcomer to the tech giant’s stable of powerful apps.
It maybe you have been getting by without using it or learning how to use it to the full.
However – and sorry if I am the one who has to break this to you – Microsoft Teams is no longer a tool that’s nice to know. It is a ‘must know’ for any aspiring and higher-level assistant.
Organisations and clients that use it will expect you to not only know it but to know it better than any of their people. Most probably, they’ll look to you for setting things up before meetings and to have an eye on training options.
If you are already au fait with Microsoft Teams, you have a head start on the rest. If this powerful tool is still a mystery to you, better get to know it sooner rather than later.