Of all the disruptions you and your staff have encountered in 2020, getting to grips with working remotely is probably one of the greatest challenges. With face-to-face meetings out of the question for much of the year, you may have found yourselves relying on Microsoft Teams to stay in touch with your colleagues.
You’re not the only ones. Between March and April 2020 alone, Teams usage grew by 70%. Many companies would be content to rest on their laurels at this point, but not Microsoft. Spurred on by the ongoing success of Teams, the company has spent the year improving the platform in every way possible.
As well as increasing Teams’ functionality, Microsoft has taken a particular interest in the well-being of its users. Six months into the pandemic, the company conducted its own mental health survey. It found that 30% of remote workers felt the pandemic had increased their sense of burnout. In response, Microsoft has developed a host of new Teams features to improve the mental health of people working from home.
One of the biggest challenges for remote workers is keeping a firm boundary between work and home. With no physical distinction between the two, your staff may feel that they are always ‘on call’ and struggle to relax. Although few of us will miss rush hour traffic or packed commuter trains, research suggests that the thinking time they provide has its benefits. From early 2021, Teams users will be able to replicate this from home with a ‘virtual commute’.
Rather than simulating the experience of travelling to work, the feature challenges you to create a to-do list of daily goals in the morning. In the evening you will be able to tick off the tasks that you have accomplished as well as reflecting on the day’s events by writing a diary entry. The feature will also ask you how you are feeling about work in general. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it will give you the option to block off time for relaxation.
We think it sounds like a great feature which gives you the thinking space of a commute, without the stress, cost and discomfort.
Mindfulness at work
Mindfulness has become something of a buzzword of late, but there is a solid concept behind the trendiness. By turning your attention inwards for a set period each day, you can put your problems into perspective and feel less overwhelmed by your workload. With this in mind, Microsoft has teamed up with the popular Headspace app to introduce guided meditations for Teams users.
Teams will automatically integrate these ten-minute sessions into your workflow, so you won’t have to worry about them clashing with other tasks. Meditations can form part of the virtual commute, or they can be scheduled during the working day. Early signs point to this being a highly effective method of stress relief. A study conducted by Microsoft showed a 30% decrease in stress after 30 days of using Headspace at work.
Insights to improve well-being
Microsoft has long used MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics to help users increase their productivity. Now it is using the same tools to improve the well-being of its users with personal productivity insights. Powered by MyAnalytics, PPIs help you to strengthen your relationships with colleagues by scheduling catch-ups and allowing you to leave praise for good work. The new feature also analyses your schedule to help you find time for rest and relaxation.
For advice on getting the most out of Microsoft Teams, or any other remote working queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch.