Keeping a remote team together

We caught up with Kathy Vozella, Director of Marketing and External Relations, to talk about how her team is using tools introduced by Digital Workspace to stay connected.

Which digital tools have you been using the most?

MER has been using Teams for collaboration and for meetings, to continue our monthly morning teas (to celebrate birthdays within MER) and Friday afternoon drinks online. We’ve also been using our Workplace closed group to share our thoughts, photos of our online work spaces, new co-workers (aka our pets), and useful info.

MER inline
What’s different about remote working now that you have a digital workspace?

It enables us to engage with each other on a human level even when we can’t be together. It’s important to keep the connection with people even when in isolation.

We often work across teams within our directorate and across the university, so being able to continue this in an online environment is important to our work, and also to maintain morale and keep up momentum.

How is MER using Teams to keep up morale?

Some groups are logging on to ‘virtual lunchtimes’ where they eat their lunch and catch up with each other for half an hour twice a week. We have our weekly Friday afternoon drinks, as well as our monthly birthday campus-based morning teas.

All of these sessions are short – no more than half an hour – but important to maintain our connection with each other and to remain connected to our shared goals. We also had a thread going last week on our Workplace closed group where people posted photos of their new co-workers helping out in the home office. Some of the captions were really funny and it’s allowed us to get to know each other in ways we may not otherwise have done.

What’s surprised you about using Teams to connect?

I was surprised that Teams worked as well as it did for our drinks! With 60 people across Australia in a videoconference all at once, it had the potential to be unwieldy. And while it’s true that we can only see a few people at a time (a downside to Teams at present that I believe Microsoft is working on), if you turn on the chat facility down the side you can engage with others that way as well as by video.

What’s your advice for getting started with video conferencing?

If you’ve never used it before, jump onto one of the instructional videos or get an experienced colleague to give you some tips. Don’t be afraid of the features such as chat – it’s a simple click and then it appears down the side. The chat facility is a good way to ask questions or participate in discussion when there are lots of people in the meeting.

Don’t forget to mute yourself when you’re not talking because sometimes audio feedback can occur when there are lots of people on videoconference. It goes without saying you need to ‘un-mute’ when it’s time to talk.

Finally, when videoconferencing from home, think about your background and lighting – and your outfit!

Any words of wisdom for novice video-users?

Think like a newsreader – it’s what’s above the desk that counts.

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