How to keep employees connected and make sure they’re productive while working from home during the COVID-19 crisis created a sudden need for Scott Beck’s customers to get up to speed with remote meeting solutions. In addition to helping businesses utilize corporate laptops and VPNs from home along with secure home computers, the Riverview, New Brunswick-based MSP has been reaching out to customers about Microsoft Teams.
“I've always had business recovery or disaster plans in place,” Beck says, “but I had never really factored in, ‘Hey, how are we going to start holding team meetings remotely?’ So, we ended up having to start having some of those talks quickly, because the questions started coming up.”
Beck was not alone. According to a Reuters news story on March 19, the Microsoft Teams chat and conferencing app gained more than 12 million daily users in one week, a 37.5% jump as more people worked from home during the coronavirus outbreak.
Beck says he was able to take advantage of free Teams lessons from training company Bigger Brains, which in response to the coronavirus crisis is making its mini-course on Microsoft Teams temporarily available free on YouTube. The five short lessons cover the basics of Microsoft Teams, including best practices for how to use Team’s features effectively.
He reached out to customers letting them know about the free training, and offering to help if they had additional questions. “We were able to give them a resource and then they usually came back with, 'OK, so, we want to do ABC.' So we didn't have to teach everyone from the basics. I think the whole industry was blessed [with the Bigger Brains effort]."
Beck says his company is using Teams as well now that his employees are 100% working remotely during this crisis rather than coming into the office.
“Most of our stuff had all been cloud based and we've always had the ability [to work remotely]. Even when we're doing file sharing, we can do that securely through the cloud. The challenging thing for me as a business owner is the team coordination.”
BeckTek is now using Teams for a daily huddle in the morning to plan work for the day, replacing the 10-minute physical meeting the group had in the office.
“From a business owner point of view, I like it for two things," he says. "A, coordinating; but secondly, I know my guys are dressed and ready to go and are ready for work. So that's been working well.”
Keeping a check on his employee’s spirits is important too, he says, and Teams also enables that. “I'm trying to watch for their morale, because I think that's going to become a driving point as this continues. I'm trying to keep everyone's spirits up and engaged.”
Beck also believes that when the crisis is over, the changes driven by this need to work from home will lead to new business. He says some clients have already added new cloud services. “I personally think this is going to create some other opportunities once we get out on the other side, because jobs that people said you can't do remotely, well, they're now being done remotely. It's going to change the workspace. So, we're going to have to adjust to that. I do think we're going to go back to working in our office, but maybe some companies are going to say maybe we don't need a 30-person office, maybe we could have a 10-person office [with the rest remote]. What is that going to look like?”