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7 Work at Home Productivity Tips

The good news is that there are plenty of tools out there to help manage employees, keep coworkers connected, and help your office stay productive.  In our last post, we shared how to setup remote access to enable employees to work from home . This time, we’d like to focus on how to manage people and technology in a remote environment.

1. Use collaborative technology.

If you don’t already have Microsoft Teams or Zoom, now is the time to invest in these solutions.

As part of the Office 365 productivity suite, Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool for with features like:

  • Conversation channels
  • Video conferencing and screen sharing
  • Integration with Office 365
  • Shared document spaces

Zoom is a video conferencing tool with features like:

  • Screen sharing
  • Chat messaging
  • Meeting recording
  • Breakout rooms

Both tools work on both PCs and mobile device. Microsoft has made Microsoft Teams available for FREE.  Zoom is always free, but with limitations.

2. Let employees working at home use office equipment.

If employees don’t have computers or extra monitors at home, consider letting them take their work equipment home from the office. Keeping the same tech set up will make for a smoother transition and increase productivity.

Forbes work from home tech tips

3. Move to Office 365 or G-Suite

Office 365 and G Suite are great tools to utilize at a time like this. They have great data security – even with everyone out of office. Both systems come with collaboration tools like:

  • Shared files
  • Shared calendar
  • Video conferencing
  • Documents can be edited simultaneously

Additionally, G Suite and Office 365 have tons of online support articles, live chat and telephone support. Outsourced technology professionals like us can help troubleshoot your problems and repair your systems if you’re having issues.

4. Encourage employees to create a dedicated office workspace.

There are benefits and challenges when working from home. Maintaining a work-life balance is always challenging, but especially when suddenly everyone is at home.  The kids. The roommates. The significant other.

One key to creating separation between home-life and work life is for each person to have their own space to work – and use that space ONLY for work. Even if the space is small, make it as functional and welcoming as possible. Create a spot near a window for fresh air. Buy a portable file cabinet to keep papers close to you, but neatly out of sight. Make sure you have a comfortable chair that supports your back and creates a good ergonomic position for working.

Mind Tools – working from home

5. Encourage employees to stick to a schedule.

Keeping a daily routine helps employees create normalcy. Encourage your team to keep getting up early, showering, and getting dressed for the day. It’s difficult to be in a business mindset when you’re in your pajamas and haven’t brushed your teeth.  Employees also need to schedule breaks for lunch – and quitting time for the day. When the lines between work and play start to get blurry, sticking to a schedule and a work space will make things clearer.

Employees can support their mental health by making time for:

  • Meals
  • Self-care
  • Exercise
  • Walks outside
  • Chats with friends
  • Cooking nutritious meals
  • Maintaining order in their space

These activities don’t have to cut into work time, and actually, in the long run, will make employees more productivity.

Stack Overflow working from home tips

6. Consider adding “water cooler” chats for employees to connect.

Most of us find friends at work and love catching up with them on our lunch and breaks. That can’t happen without the communal office. Create a channel for your team to stay connected and chat about fun, non-work topics. Boost morale by creating employees their own chat group or optional video conferencing time just for socialization. Starting with a silly riddle or trivia question can be a fun way to divert the brain quickly from work talk.

BBC Work from home the right way

7. Give employees the technology needed to be productive – and protect your business.

For some businesses, initially enabling employees to work from home was a mad scramble to keep the business operating. Now that it appears this situation may endure for a while, businesses need to think about how to improve remote operations to help employees stay productive and to protect business data. We’re seeing clients:

  • Buy anti-virus software for employee home computers
  • Invest in CRM software to enable better collaboration on sales opportunities
  • Setup VOIP software to route phone calls professionally to cell phones
  • Move their documents and file storage to the cloud
  • Improve software integrations

Providing secure, remote access for employees is not a “one size fits all” solution, but instead, requires a consultation to understand your unique needs. Use the form below or contact us at 586.263.1775 to get started.

We believe every business should have a professional email address, ideally one using Office 365 or G-Suite. In additional to having your own personal, private email address, you may want to have a centralized email address that gets sent to multiple people.

Email Aliases, Shared Mailboxes, Groups and Lists

Creating multiple email accounts (when you only need one) not only wastes money on unnecessary software licenses, but it also creates “login credential” confusion.  Many business professionals aren’t aware that you can create shared mailboxes and distribution groups, and the tradeoffs of each type of setup. We aim to clear that up.

Using an Email Alias

Your primary business email may look like this: YourFullName@YourCompanyName.com.

What if you want to have different email addresses?

Do you need to pay for separate accounts and manage separate email inboxes?

NO!

An email account is one entity. You need one Office 365 license.

Just like if your name was Robert, people may call you Bob, Rob, Bobby, Robby – or even Buddy, but there’s only one you. Your nicknames are called “aliases” in the IT world. They don’t cost anything extra to setup or maintain.

email alias

Shared Mailboxes

What if you want one email to go out to multiple people, like for sales, customer service or hiring? You can choose between having a shared mailbox or having a distribution group.

With a shared mailbox, you’d setup an email address like sales@yourcompanyname.com.

Just like email aliases, an Office 365 shared mailbox is FREE, but everyone with access to the shared mailbox must be an Office 365 licensed user.

  • A shared mailbox is accessed through the user’s normal Office 365 credentials, there is no separate login and password. Once logged in, the user with permissions can open the shared mailbox.
  • Incoming and outgoing messages can be read, stored and archived in the shared mailbox.
  • Shared mailboxes are lacking some of the privileges of a regular Office 365 account, like Unified Messaging and software downloads.

Benefits of a shared mailbox

  • Multiple people can monitor email activity.
  • Emails, contacts, and calendars are centralized and visible amongst the group.
  • Emails look like they are coming from the group email, rather than from the individual user.
  • The company can easily monitor and track activities.

Email Distribution Lists

A distribution list allows an email to be distributed to multiple people at once. List members can be both internal or external contacts in your organization. Unlike a shared mailbox, emails are not centrally stored and accessed. Each recipient receives their own copy of the email.

Office 365 Groups

Office 365 groups are a newer feature, created to enhance what was possible with distribution lists.

An Office 365 group:

  • Automatically has a shared calendar
  • Automatically shares documents in SharePoint
  • Integrates with Yammer, Teams, Planner, OneNote, Power BI, etc.
  • Can be restored if deleted (for up to 30 days)
  • Can be public (open to everyone in your organization) or private (restricted to a team).
  • External users can be invited as guests. Guests interact with the group exclusively via email. They can open links to shared documents, but lack other permissions, like viewing the group site.
  • Unlike a shared mailbox, users participate as individuals, sending and replying from their own email account.

How many email inboxes can you eliminate?

Simple is better. If you’ve read this and now know that you are paying for too many email accounts, we can help you archive and/or migrate the email history to consolidate into fewer accounts. We can do this for both Office 365 email accounts and G-Suite accounts.

If you’re not yet on either Office 365 or G-Suite, we can move you there!