So far, XRM Vision has not talked much about the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not want to exploit the current critical circumstances from an entrepreneurial perspective.

However, technology plays a critical role in supporting the every day work of businesses. Over the last weeks, millions of people have switched to working from home. This was also the case for our team, which has now been working 100% remotely for almost two weeks.

As experts in the Microsoft world, we are familiar with telecommuting tools. Over the years, we have guided several customers in their transition to the cloud and have also learned a lot in the last two weeks. Certainly, working from home had already been integrated by XRM Vision for several years. However, collaborating entirely remotely, without meetings in our Mile-End offices, brought new challenges and a different but equally present team cohesion.

Several articles have already been written about teleworking tools in general. Many companies work with software from the Microsoft world.

Since the Microsoft world is our specialty, we wanted to share the following tips on how to use Microsoft tools to keep yourselves productive when working remotely:

1- Always use the cloud

It is important to have real-time access to project information when collaborating remotely. Provide all the members of your organization with software that will allow them to work securely from the cloud. Your team will be able to share and discuss the progression of the work being done. You can also encourage your teams to share a file link instead of a Word file. This way, other team members will always have access to the latest version.

At XRM Vision we use Sharepoint and OneNote combined with other Microsoft tools to facilitate teamwork. Microsoft 365 allows users to access resources and share files with Office applications, whether on the mobile interface or on the computer. Content will be stored in the cloud by default.

2- Even your big meetings can be done by videoconference

Talking face-to-face is often more effective than chatting or emailing. But most importantly, seeing faces and talking to each other is crucial for morale, especially when working remotely. For example, at XRM Vision, we use a tool called Teams for our team meetings as well as to contact colleagues face-to-face. You can also record meetings, so you can listen to them later.

If you don’t have a video conferencing and chat application, many companies are offering their services for free in this time of containment to help organizations get through the current crisis. For example, Microsoft is offering for free the Teams premium plan for the next 6 months.

3- Create spaces dedicated to sharing between colleagues

From greetings to conversations around the coffee machine, there are many opportunities of interacting with and supporting each other in the office. Maintaining this type of interaction is very important to keep morale up when working remotely. For example, at XRM Vision, we have created #La Cuisine on Teams, a channel for sharing of ideas between colleagues. Everyone is invited to share humorous pictures of their daily life or their latest culinary achievements.

One of our colleagues has brightened our day by sharing the flora and fauna that can be seen from his work environment on #LaCuisine.

Another colleague shared their version of the all dressed cookie by Ricardo

#LaCuisine in Teams, another colleague has shared with us their version (left picture) of the all dressed cookie by Ricardo, this was a family activity.

4- Increase management communications

When your team is at a distance, communicating with them more often becomes increasingly important. For example, you can increase the frequency of your employee newsletter, or videoconferences during which the CEO informs the organization about the latest changes and the corporate vision. In addition to increasing commitment and motivation, your team will make better daily decisions by staying informed.

5- Increase the support of supervisors

Teams need a more extensive dialogue with their supervisors when working remotely. Make these dialogues more available. Do not hesitate to double the time that is usually scheduled for weekly follow-ups and meetings.

6- Ask your employees to report their status

XRM Vision had a flexible working hours policy from the very beginning. However, as we move to 100% working from home, staying connected with one another is crucial. Therefore, we asked our employees to change their status in Teams according to their availability. This allows us to know who is in front of their workstation and to improve communications. 

7- Maintain your corporate culture

Building your corporate culture is more important than ever. Do 2.0 activities, organize [email protected] via video conferencing. The important thing is to provide opportunities for your team to come together based on your culture. Humour can also be an effective strategy. For example, at XRM Vision, one of our vice-presidents facilitated an Aerobics 2.0 session using 1980s outfits.

8- Offer support resources

While working at a distance is more convenient in terms of travel, it is not always psychologically easy. It often becomes more difficult to separate work from leisure when using the same space. It is important to provide your team with tools on best practices for organizing their day. In addition, if your organization offers a psychological support program, remind employees of the phone number regularly in your communications to employees.

A constant challenge

To conclude, providing and maintaining good conditions for a team to remain productive while working from home is a constant challenge. We also understand that the challenges vary considerably from one organization to another. Especially in these uncertain times, your challenges differ depending on the reality of your industry, the degree of integration of the cloud into your business, the size of your teams, and so on.

But we have been able to improve this transition by, educating our employees to operate exclusively in the cloud and providing them with the tools they need. We can also testify that maintaining a strong corporate culture and creating contexts that encourage follow-ups and interactions are essential to move together towards the same goals.

We hope that these few tips will be useful to you. Our digital transition and change management consultants remain available to answer your questions to help you with your transition. Send us your questions.