12 months of home working

12 months of home working

It’s been 12 months since we packed up desks and said “see you soon” to colleagues we’d become used to seeing every day. 12 months since we were first told to stay at home and the novelty of lockdown began. Now we’re all zoom quizzed out, sick to death of the mute button and flinch at the word “unprecedented”.

Despite all the drama and adjustment, there’s been plenty to be grateful for and one of those things has to be technology, which has kept the country going and brought people together regardless of distance. Our Service Management Lead, Alison Whitfield , talks about the tech tools she’s been loving in lockdown and what she’s looking forward to about the infamous “new normal”.


So it is absolutely no secret that I was a Microsoft Teams nerd long before we heard the words “stay at home”. I had already seen the power of collaboration back in 2019 when we planned and executed a complete company rebrand, away day and Christmas party all via Teams. I’m just 2 months I might add! Teams has become a part of almost everyone’s day to day lives now and has more features and benefits added all the time. In October 2020, Microsoft announced that Teams had hit 115 million daily users whereas in November 2019 there were just 20 million on the daily active user count. That’s an incredible increase and with it, Microsoft have invested even more in the platform, creating a real social hub for any business.

But it’s not all about calls and instant messages. Some of my favourite things about Teams are actually the apps which integrate with it.

Tasks -

This has been without a doubt my favourite thing to come out of 2020! There have been several different applications via Microsoft in recent years all around productivity and task management but this year, following the mind-blowing increase in Teams users, they really went in on the roadmap for “Tasks in Microsoft Teams”. This combines the original apps of “Planner” and “To Do” into your Teams panel, so you can access individual and shared to do lists, projects, and plans.

My favourite thing about this application is the amount of customisation you can utilise from colour coding to prioritisation! Any plan added can be assigned an owner or multiple owners, a due date, a checklist of tasks and more which makes it perfect for any projects or teams you need to manage. Plus if you’re an O365 user you likely have it already included in your licence cost. No additional fees, yay!

Forms -

This is a great, free integration from Microsoft which lets you craft quick, branded surveys for either internal or external use. Gather all the intel right into Excel and even some high level graphs which can be snipped straight out into a presentation. Easy peasy!

Nulia –

Nulia is a fantastic piece of software which builds right into Teams and provides personalisation and engagement to guide users to attain & maintain their digital productivity skills. This is a great one for business who like a little healthy competition and training which doesn’t take up days and days of people’s time. Whether your people are totally onboard with the M365 suite or have a lot to learn, you should check out Nulia. If you’re already a CloudCoCo customer, get in touch and we can even help you deploy it.

Pinning –

Finally, not an app but my favourite tip when using Teams is to “pin” chats and channels. It can be really overwhelming having lots of different chats and scrolling through for that group chat you created a few weeks ago. Any chats I know I’m going to revisit, or channels I need to find often, I pin. You can do this by hovering over the 3 dots next to the chat or channel and hitting pin, it will then stay at the top of Teams until you choose to unpin. Game changer!

So they are some of the things I’ve found to be helpful when it comes to lockdown technology. What about when this is all over? What about when things go back to, “normal”? Here’s some things personally I’ll be keeping around!

Lunchtime walks -

I was already a fan of a stroll around the business park in the middle of the day to clear my head, but this year has taught me how much it’s needed. We naturally get less breaks working from home. Nobody is offering you a brew and a quick gossip in the kitchen. Nobody is asking if you watched that new drama last night and debating who the guilty parties are. These are the chats and mini breaks we are all used to when working in an office, and they’re perfectly acceptable!

Everyone can work their bums off but also need a little break now and then, just look at the research behind the pomodoro method (trust me). Even 10 minutes fresh air, away from your work can change the course of your day. I like to stick on a podcast or audiobook to really take my mind off things.

Catch up meetings –

Ahh the dreaded meeting. A lot of the time through lockdown it’s seemed that there are meetings about meetings on top of more meetings but the ones I’ve really enjoyed, where my colleagues have just put a short call in to have a brew and catch up. It’s something, like the breaks I mentioned before, that we would do without thinking in the office. “Let’s sit down and catch up”. How often do you say that to your team while working remotely? How often does someone say it to you? Whether it’s about a work related task, or just to talk about how your coping, this kind of communication has to stay for me.

Comfy shoes –

Honestly, I might never wear a pair of heels again. I’m not kidding.

What positives have you taken from the last 12 months? What can you not wait to get rid of? Let us know if the comments.

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