6 Rules for Long-Term Home Working with Microsoft Teams

Many of us may now be suffering from “WFH fatigue” – how do you keep focus when you’ve been working at home for too long and the novelty has worn off? 

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Keeping on track when working from home

Rule 1: Find your commute

Gaining an hour in bed over the train or car commute might sound like a win – but moving straight from the breakfast table to the desk doesn’t give us the time to clear our minds and plan our day. Start with a morning walk – having a dog helps.

Tip:

  • Use Microsoft To-Do within Microsoft 365 to set out your personal work tasks and priorities.

Rule 2: Keep to working hours

It is easy for the workday to stretch when you work from home, tasks which have a 5.30 pm deadline seem to stretch into the night. Try sticking to your working hours and timetable regular breaks.

 Tips:

  • Make sure work stops when you stop – with Microsoft Teams you can switch mobile notifications off by: Open Teams App on your smartphone -> Click on the 3 stacked lines, known as the “Menu Icon”, and then select notifications. From here you can set Quiet Hours.
  • Finish meetings at 5 minutes to the hour to give yourself chance to refresh and reset.

    Rule 3: Connect Daily

    We run a team daily stand-up to check-in with each other. We cover what we achieved yesterday, what blockers we’re facing in our work (where we need help) and our plan for the day ahead. We also review our key KPIs. We schedule this meeting in Teams as a reoccurring appointment and use Planner, Power BI and Teams Chat to capture, manage and report on our progress.

    Tips:

    • Provision a Teams Channel for your daily stand-up to bring all your meeting information together
    • Creating a recurring meeting within this Channel, this will ensure that “Chat” and notes will remain within the Channel allowing for continutiy
    • Add tabs for “Planner” and “Power BI” to provide access to key data

      Rule 4: Video Video Video

      We encourage video when we use teams calls – it helps build trust and maintain focus. It is reported by Professor Albert Mehrabian (1971) that 55% of communication is through body language, 7% is verbal, 38% tone of voice. Furthermore, as well as seeing you, if you choose, your audience can see your environment. This helps bring a more personal connection to meetings.

      Tip:

      • Not ready to share your background? With Microsoft Teams you can Blur the background, start your meeting, click on the 3 dots (ellipses) and choose blur background or alternatively use a custom background.
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        Rule 5: Block out distractions

        As a rule, we find we those tasks that require deep concentration are better done in the morning – for example authoring an intranet strategy report. On the flipside we tend to work more on collaborative tasks in the afternoon. So help your colleague and sign post when you’re available and when you’re busy.

        Tips: 

        • Block out time in our calendars for “deep work”
        • Change your status in Microsoft Teams to “Do Not Disturb”
        • Close Outlook and turn off new mail notifications
        • In the Windows taskbar set “Focus Assist” to “Alarms Only”
        • Work in 20 minutes bursts to “swallow the frog” (worth a search if you haven’t come across this before)

          Rule 6: Think before you create

          There is a real risk that when you start using Microsoft Teams that the number Teams and Channels and group chats grow exponentially in the short term. “The short time fix leaves a long-term legacy” – there is a cost of orphaned groups and islands of data – IT departments get stuck with this data, who owns it, do we need to protect this or delete this, is it an asset or a liability?

           Tip:

          • Consider how you want your people to use teams, the “rules” of when a Team should be created, and when a Channel is more appropriate. Furthermore, there may be instances where Teams should not be used, and your existing file shares or other content management solutions should take priority.

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