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Staying Productive while Working Remotely with Microsoft Teams

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How do you move tens of thousands of employees to remote work overnight?

With the COVID-19 outbreak spreading around the world, that was the big question on our minds at Microsoft last week. Then, last Wednesday, we just did it—sending out an email that asked approximately 50,000 Microsoft employees in the Seattle area to work from home if they could. We were already heavy Teams users, but in our first fully remote days usage among Microsoft employees in the U.S. went up significantly. By the end of the day Thursday, chat was up 50 percent week over week and meetings were up 37 percent. And we’re seeing usage upticks among customers, too, as workers everywhere adjust to meeting, chatting, and collaborating exclusively online. We want to help everyone meet this challenge. As the team behind Teams, we have spent a lot of time learning about the best ways to make working from home productive and healthy. So I thought I’d share our top tips below.

A quick note before you read on:

These tips are part of our ongoing effort to help everyone stay connected and productive during this challenging time. Last week, I shared how individuals and organizations can get Teams for free, along with our comprehensive plan for keeping services running smoothly through this crisis. We’ve also shared incredible stories from customers and employees around the world, including teachers and students in Hong Kong using technology for amazing e-learning innovations and customers in and around China who’ve found smart ways to keep work moving as well. But our customers are also asking for guidance on switching to remote work. We’ll continue to provide tips, information, and inspiring customer stories throughout the outbreak, so check back here for those in the days to come.

Getting started

As you move to remote work, a few key habits will set you up for success.

Set up your workspace

If you don’t have a home office, don’t worry. You can still work from home productively. In fact, we designed Teams as a virtual office you can take anywhere you go. While you may not have a printer, physical files, or a desk phone at home, you can pull up documents directly in Teams, securely store files where the right people can access them, and quickly jump into calls and meetings. That said, it’s important to have a dedicated home workspace where you can be productive and signal that you’re in do-not-disturb mode. A breakfast nook, a quiet corner of the bedroom, an underused game table in the rec room—any focus-friendly area can double as a workspace. And don’t worry if it gets a little messy throughout the day, you can always use background blur during video meetings so your teammates focus only on you.


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