Working Remotely

2020 is the year of remote work. With various collaboration platforms on the market, we wanted to focus on Microsoft Teams due to its transformative power for work. We spoke with Ryley Bauer, a Business Analyst from SysGen’s Digital Advisory group about his extensive knowledge of Microsoft Teams. Ryley specializes in communication and collaboration tools to unite teams across thousands of kilometers and is a Microsoft Teams expert, along with other Microsoft applications.

Teams was launched in 2016 and has since revolutionized the way teams work. The collaboration tool is included with an Office 365 subscription, and not only does it make teamwork easier through chat and video-conferencing, but the integration of hundreds of productivity applications as well as the full Office 365 office suite makes your work better and faster. Our Q & A with Ryley was initialized with a Teams conference call, which then continued to an in-person interview recorded using Teams. Read on to gain insights into Teams with our Microsoft Teams expert, Ryley!

So, as our in-house Microsoft Teams expert, please describe what Microsoft Teams is to you in 30 seconds.

It’s everything to me; I use Teams to do all my work during my day. I use Teams to communicate with coworkers, access files, and obtain information with everyone I work with. Having Teams allow me to be mobile throughout my day, which allows for unexpected events such as tardiness to not interfere with my meetings. For example, we are now talking via Teams as I make my way to the office.

How does Teams facilitate collaboration based on your experience?

Teams facilitates collaboration because it was built around collaboration. When you launch Teams, the left bar gives you the options to chat, call and video call the people on your team. It displays your calendar, gives you access to your files, and shows the most recent activities within your teams. For me, this streamlines communication and collaboration because everything I need is all in one spot. Teams shows everything I need to do for my day in the Calendar and allows me to get them done via Teams too.

Do you find having all these tools in one platform helpful? How does it affect your workday to have Teams?

It’s extremely helpful; it saves me a lot of time. Instead of jumping into different places to obtain information and communicate with my coworkers and clients, everything is in one spot. Teams help me to stay organized, stay connected, and makes it very easy to collaborate.

In your knowledge and experience as a Microsoft Teams expert, what makes Microsoft Teams different from their competitors?

Skype for Business IS Teams; it will be replaced by Teams entirely by next year. Microsoft Teams consists of Skype for Business (SFB), Microsoft and third-party applications. This what makes Teams different; Teams offer a more comprehensive solution for collaboration and communication, more so than its competitors.

Very recently, Teams introduced private channels; while it’s not perfect yet, it allows a more focused collaboration with your teammates. Private channels are not new in other collaboration tools, but having one of these is very useful, for example, if a team wants to collaborate without having to create a separate team within Teams.

Teams is affordable; for $16/month I can purchase an Office 365 Business Premium license. This license gives me the ability to host emails with a 50GB mailbox, store and share my cat photos on 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, and most importantly, access the premium version of Teams. Most competitors don’t offer these many features for this price, and their licenses can range from $5-$40/month while not including email and storage. I would need to get those elsewhere.

It’s easy to access Teams, as they are compatible with a wide range of hardware. Other collaboration tools often need specific hardware for compatibility. For example, it may be better to use Cisco WebEx Teams instead of Teams if your business has invested in a lot of Cisco’s hardware; phones, smartboards, and the full Cisco network. When your business has invested that much in Cisco products, adopting WebEx Teams instead of Teams makes financial and practical sense. However, if your business is small to medium-sized and just getting started, I highly recommend considering Office 365, which would give you access to Teams.

Let’s move on to a study case; let’s pretend there’s a law firm that would like to incorporate Teams into their work environment. How would you pitch Teams to their decision-makers?

There are several ways we could do this; first, the basic pitch would be that by adopting Teams into your business, you can save time and have meetings anytime, anywhere. For example, we’re talking about this while I’m parking my car and about to walk into the office. With Teams, you can have a meeting with all the documents and details all in spot; it’s efficient.

The best way to do this though is through SysGen’s Digital Advisory team. We would do a needs assessment and background research to see whether Teams would fit into the business. For example, a law-firm client uses digital post-its to communicate internally. Functionally, it’s the same as having private or group chats and it works just fine. From an internal aspect, I shouldn’t encourage them to leave their primary platform that houses their data and information just so they move and use Teams. However, from an external aspect, having Microsoft Teams makes a lot of sense because this way, they can converse with external stakeholders, share files, hold conference calls, etc. Having Teams will also eliminate emails, and that’s what most decision-makers like to see; they often drown in emails and lack and time and capacity to take care of them.

So, in this study case, I would first ask if they would like to be assessed by the Digital Advisory team, and in case they see Teams as a beneficial collaborative online tool, we would offer to help them incorporate it into their business. However, each prospective client is different, so it’s rather difficult to give a general pitch that can be applied to all businesses.

How long have you been using Teams, and how has it affected your workflow and efficiency?

I have been using Teams since they launched it in 2016 and it has significantly impacted my workflow in a good way. I will only be using more and more of Teams from here, as I do a lot of internal collaboration in my position. Microsoft Teams is where I spend most of my time; even at this moment. Even though I’m talking to you in person, I have multiple chats open here with my coworkers via Microsoft Teams.

Tell us your top 2 coolest Teams’ features and why.

This is easy; My top coolest feature is the ability to blur my background when I’m on a video call using AI. This is helpful for when I need to work from home because the background doesn’t show my cats being mischievous. The focus is placed on the individual during meetings and not what’s behind them.

Oh! How many cats do you have?

I have three! 🐱 Anyways, I love this background-blur feature because it changes the way we have meetings at work. I can communicate with my coworkers at home, in my car, or if something behind me is confidential, it shouldn’t be visible to anyone else. I could also have a call in the mall, and it wouldn’t be too distracting for the other side.

My second coolest feature is that Teams allow you to record your calls and video calls, so when I give training to my coworkers via Teams, they can record the call and listen to the conversation later. Also, when the recording is done, it automatically uploads into Microsoft Stream, which is like a private YouTube. Also, a transcription of the call is automatically generated, and the recording is searchable. This feature is handy to have, and it helps with internal training purposes.

Awesome! So, what’s the current update on Teams?

Right now, Microsoft is working hard to integrate more apps into Teams. I am looking forward to having To-Do and Outlook as apps in Teams. While integrating To-Do is supposedly going to be quick, Outlook may take some time. I believe once you can access your email in Teams, Teams will become your only communication platform. We’ll always be connected to Teams, and because of it, we may eradicate work phones; everything will be on mobile devices and all of our data will be stored in the cloud.

Teams is contributing to the change in the dynamics of the modern workplace, thanks to technology. You can have meetings anywhere anytime, and this in turn saves time and increases efficiency for everyone. With Teams, everything becomes seamless; just like this meeting, we started via Teams call and now I’m in person here with you.

Yes! Did you do this for this interview?

No (laughs).

Any last message you want to share with us about Teams?

I love that Teams is becoming the hub for everything and that it’s changing the way people are working and collaborating. It’s not just an online collaboration tool, Teams houses everything you need to do at work and even in your personal lives. The more we are exposed to Teams; the more people will be inclined to adopt it for their workplace. Teams is where my day starts and ends.

Get to know Ryley, our Microsoft Teams expert at SysGen!

Ryley Bauer has five years of system administration experience and is a quick learner of new technologies and passionate about applications. Ryley is a Microsoft Teams expert as well as other Microsoft applications. He is a Business Analyst with SysGen’s Digital Advisory team.

With a Bachelor of Commerce in Management of Information Systems, Ryley is trained on evaluating the business impact of technology and is passionate about finding innovative solutions to technology problems. Working with clients across the country, Ryley specializes in communication and collaboration tools to unite teams across thousands of kilometers. He has recently completed the Nutanix Platform Professional and Cisco Meraki Networking Associate certifications.

Fun fact: Not only does he play guitar, bass, and drums, Ryley also builds guitars! He enjoys spending time at home with his three adorable cats.

 

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