As the world shifts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses must innovate harder than ever before to deliver products and services that feed drastically changing consumer demands and business needs.
How are teams supposed to work well together amidst the current chaos? How can global, cross-functional groups work efficiently across time zones, national and organizational boundaries?
Just like other online meeting platforms, Microsoft Teams® is being used more than ever before. In a recent blog post, Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365®, reported a 200% increase in minutes spent in Microsoft Teams meetings per day.
Sopheon customers shared their approach to crisis response and innovation during a recent webinar. We have collected their learnings about remote collaboration, which we want to share with you in this blog post.
Remote work brings teams together!
Jeff George, Senior VP R&D at Hain Celestial Group, speaks about the organization’s need to have to adjust to online collaboration quickly and how it brings people closer together:
“Candidly, we were behind. We were not a great remote working company. A lot of business was done face-to-face and it was out of sight, out of mind, and that had to change overnight. Thankfully, it did, in that we were able to upgrade our IT tools, including using MS Teams, which has worked quite well for us. And we went from a culture where we did not work well remotely to one where we are working exceptionally well. … it is actually bringing teams together more than I thought because we are in communication constantly and we are able to see each other using webcams and the technology. So, one thing that is working, that is surprising, is how rapidly we were able to pivot to be a much more effective work remote company.”
Improved teamwork and democratic conversations!
Steve Moskowitz, Innovations Management & Digital Innovation at Entegris, sees a shift in meetings and attendee behavior:
“The two big things we are seeing are a shift in our meetings, so gate meetings, team meetings, portfolio meetings, where we typically have 60 to 70% of the folks in one room and everybody else calling in. When you have those meetings, the folks on the phone would pretty much be second class citizens, right? They will not always participate fully. They might present but they would not come in and ask all the questions. And you would really get the meeting dominated by the people in the room. We have seen a nice shift, with everybody being virtual it is a much more democratized conversation. Everybody is more engaged. Everybody is more involved. You do not have that one or two people dominating the conversation anymore. And so, it is been interesting to see a shift from being in person to everybody being remote, and having better teamwork that way, better conversations.”
“So that was a little bit of a surprise for us, but a very positive surprise. One of the challenges will be when we move back to 70% of the people being in the room, how do you not lose that conversation and engaging with the whole team.”
Having fun is important too!
Scott Kirsner, CEO and co-founder Innovation Leader, shares some of his organization’s tips and tricks for remote meetings:
“We're living in Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams, or Zoom and trying to figure out how do you innovate, how do you collaborate in this new environment. I guess, three things I would highlight that we are noticing are, one, you need to make sure that you have a way for people to have fun and stay connected with each other. And for us that has meant occasionally in our team meetings we might set up a trivia game or a contest using a tool like Poll Everywhere or Kahoot, which have these fun leader boards. And we just did the newlywed game, like how much do you know about your co-workers, in a meeting yesterday. So, I think fun and just making sure you are making space for all of us to be human beings as opposed to just get stuff done, that's one really important thing.”
Use the meeting tool you have and use it to full capacity!
Steve Moskowitz has the following advice for us:
“…we've been using Microsoft Teams … for a while. What we found … was we were using it really for basic communications. We were not really leveraging … the video, because most folks would be … multitasking. They are doing other things, and so we weren't using video. We have quickly seen people adopt video and had lot more face-to-face interaction that way.”
“The other thing is the chatroom. During the conference you will have the chat on the side. People can post questions. We are finding people using that a lot more than we ever did before, and it really replaces those side conversations that seem to happen in meetings. So even though we're using the same tools we've used for a while, it's those additional features that we keep finding add benefit.”
Make online meetings the new normal! They save money, too!
Jeff George talks about some insightful learnings:
“We're actually better at planning than we used to be, we're saving dollars in travel, we're saving hours of travel time for our team. …when this is over, we are not going back to the way we used to do it. Now we have a better, new, improved way of working. In the next couple of weeks, we are going to attempt to do brainstorm sessions. …how can you do brainstorming when people are not face-to-face? If I think about it, brainstorming face-to-face is very effective, but for people who are more introverted, and a lot of our scientists and engineers tend to be more introverted, sometimes it is hard to break through.”
“… it's hard to have the voice in the room so some of these new virtual brainstorming techniques are actually well-suited to people who can't always voice their opinions in the room. Instead, they can contribute in a different way. So, is it going to be better? I don't know if it'll be better, but it'll be new and it'll be different, it'll be another tool in the toolbox that we can use going forward.”
Connect more frequently and less formally!
… is Steve Moskowitz’s advice:
“We have really been trying to share more personal stories of not just what the company is going through, but individuals as well and that’s been really helpful. We’ve actually seen a much more positive impact on our company culture through this shift in dialog and this shift in communication that’s been going on is something that I know is going to continue even as we move forward and the learning from that is going to be really critical.”
… and Jeff George adds the following:
“I know from our communication, I think the takeaway is more frequent, less formal.”
Good to know: Accolade now with Microsoft Teams integration!
Most companies have introduced a working from home policy. To accommodate these remote employees, many organizations have dramatically increased their adoption of communication tools such as Microsoft Teams.
Sopheon’s latest addition to the company’s COVID-19 disruption response toolkit is the implementation of Microsoft Teams chat, meetings, and video calls.
Interested in hearing more about it? We invite you to get in touch.
Stay tuned for more blog posts on the topic of remote collaboration and innovation during this time of disruption.