With more and more workers returning to the office, it makes sense that the cultures of many companies are undergoing another transformation. Maybe your team has become closer than ever through home working, or maybe they’ve fallen out of the habit of collaboration and working side-by-side. After a long period of uncertainty, and with businesses taking varied stances on the future of hybrid working, there may also be underlying anxieties and tensions that can hold your team back from fully embracing the new (back to?) normal.
One way to help your team to successfully mesh, communicate and collaborate may come from a surprising source.
Despite only becoming a part of the business landscape in 2017, Microsoft Teams scarcely needs an introduction. Similar to its competitor, Slack, the app facilitates quick communication and filesharing in the workplace and is used every day by thousands of businesses worldwide.
Teams also has a variety of additional licensed add-ons to extend its functions, such as Business Voice and Advanced Communications. In this blog, however, we will be exploring the plugin apps that can enhance your business’s use of Teams for happy collaboration and co-working. Each of them can be found in Microsoft’s AppSource Library.
It's a simple idea, but it makes a real difference in helping all of your team members to feel valued for their work.
Praise encourages employees to take the time to thank each other for the little ways they've helped out, professionally or personally. Praise notifications can be posted in a private chat to discretely show thanks or in a group chat to celebrate all the good deeds, helpful acts, and shows of professional brilliance that are happening behind the scenes every day at your workplace.
We really like the functionality of being able to change the names and images of the different "badges" that can be awarded to coworkers - it means you can align them exactly with your company values.
Although there is no specific way of tracking praise over time within the plugin, by using one channel for Praising team members, you can monitor who is going that extra mile, or offer incentives for showcasing certain values. Mostly, though, it's wonderful for team morale and helping colleagues to feel seen.
Soapbox is more of a productivity tool, but it helps to prevent the bane of many a worker's life: long, irrelevant meetings without a clear goal.
The app provides a way to collaborate on meeting agendas, allowing any user to add to or edit the list of talking points. The agenda will then show up within the Teams meeting so you can tick items off as they're discussed, without switching tabs.
Because users are notified whenever a new item is added to an agenda, Soapbox can help your team stay on top of meeting preparation, so they know exactly what to expect when they go in. It also keeps everyone on the same page concerning the goals of the meeting and what needs to be covered in the time, so it's a great tool to bring the meeting back on track when it’s gone off on a tangent.
Last year in the US, a job description for a well-known retail store went viral for requiring floor workers to have a certain number of Instagram followers. While this is definitely extreme, it's true that your team can make a huge difference to your brand's outreach and reputation by advocating for you on social media.
Sociabble gamifies this process, offering employees rewards for sharing or commenting on company content and allowing them to do much of this without leaving the Teams app. It also rewards your team for creating content- such as short blog posts or videos of their process- which can be shared on your official accounts.
You can also adjust the rewards offered- from real-world vouchers, to online badges and customisations, to the promise that a new tree will be planted - to ensure you're using something that truly motivates your team.
We love the potential this plugin has to get the whole workforce excited about sharing the work they do and engaging with the resources your marketing team create.
Polly's a well-known Teams integration so it's very possible that your organisation already uses it… if you don't- now’s the time to get it up and running.
Polly allows you to send quick surveys to your team- which on the surface doesn't sound mind-blowing, but it's an incredibly useful tool for rapid employee feedback. You can use them for important polls, or frivolous questions – whatever you need.
Workers can rate and comment on the meeting they just completed, allowing leaders to tailor future meetings to be as useful and relevant as possible. You can discover your team's sentiments towards any upcoming changes in the business, or generally find out what would improve their working life with you. Or you can do icebreaker polls to connect on a personal level.
The surveys are visually pleasing and quick to fill out and you are always in control of who they are distributed to. We think they're great for ensuring that everyone in the company gets their say and gets to play a role with affecting how systems and processes change going forward.
Does this sound familiar? You volunteer to take down minutes for a meeting and it starts off brilliantly… then you get a little too involved in the discussion and end up with a page of scribbled phrases so cryptic that it would take an hieroglyphologist to make any sense of them, let alone turn them into actionable tasks.
If so, IsLucid is a plugin that could be a game changer. The voice recognition software records video meetings and provides a transcription of everything that was said- it even identifies different participants automatically.
By clicking on different transcribed comments during or after the meeting, you can then assign tasks to different team members, or edit and add the comment to the meeting summary. It allows everyone in the meeting to fully focus on the discussion while its happening while minimising the chance of important issues or tasks being forgotten later. In terms of promoting effective communication after meetings, it's fantastic.
If any of your team members struggle to ask for help when they need it, Givitas could help to clear the way.
This plugin is built to "foster a giving culture" in the workplace where help can be sought without stigma and knowledge can be shared as efficiently as possible.
The interface looks a little like a chat room within an MS Teams tab - with new threads started when an employee "seeks knowledge". Anyone in the company who knows how to help can comment on the request within a designated timeframe and that information can then be saved for anyone encountering a similar block in the future.
We love this idea of an online space designated for knowledge collaboration and development and it has a great potential for building new personal connections within a business.
Excellent for engaging visual thinkers or those who struggle to verbally express themselves in meetings, the Mural plugin gives your workforce a space to draw, graph and note ideas down on sticky notes during meetings or brainstorming sessions.
Teams recently integrated a whiteboard feature for meetings, which may seem to make Mural a little obsolete. However, although whiteboards allow team members to express their ideas more visually, it doesn't have the range of tools or templates that Mural has for doing so.
Actions to be completed could, for instance, be noted down as sticky notes during the meeting and then moved onto one of Mural's pre-created priority scales to leave attendees with a firm idea of what needs to be done in what order. Another fun feature is being able to start "voting sessions" to allow everyone present at the session to highlight their favourite ideas on the mural.
It's a really intuitively useable piece of software that can bring your brainstorm sessions to another level- particularly within creative departments.
Adding a plugin to your Teams is a small change that can create big, exciting changes in the way your workforce collaborates. This blog has scarcely scratched the surface of the plugin library so make sure to explore- or keep an eye out for future posts- to discover different apps created to boost productivity, wellbeing, office management and more.