learning and development

How Microsoft Teams Apps Help Connect Employees

Explore how Microsoft Teams Apps, like Together for Teams, revolutionize employee connectivity and team building in this insightful article.

Nathan Goldstein

Co-founder of Together

Published on 

November 28, 2023

Updated on 

Time to Read

mins read time

Picture a hybrid working model, with teams working remotely and distributed across the globe. Employees work from different places, in different time zones, with some being fully remote and some working in different offices. Now, how do you make them feel connected? How do you create a space where your teams connect, grow, and succeed together? And why is it important to do this?

When your team feels connected, they work better. They're happier, more engaged, and they stick around longer. Team connectivity is all about building a workplace where everyone feels valued, heard, and part of something bigger than their to-do list.

How we connect teams has evolved over time

Remember the days when we'd all gather in a room for meetings, or run into each other at the photocopier or the coffee machine? That was one version of team connectivity – it took place organically and by virtue of being in the same physical space.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to adopt remote work, online collaboration tools replaced physical meeting rooms. At first, there were separate tools for video conferencing, text-based communication, and collaboration, but now, digital collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams have taken over.

These platforms are not just about sending messages, they're the Swiss Army knife of communication. You've got everything from video calls to file sharing, all in one place. It's like having a virtual office in your pocket. 

These tools have changed the way we work together, for the better. It's not just about getting the job done, it's about bringing different ideas and perspectives to the table, no matter where that table is. It's about how you connect employees.

Challenges with team connections

Making everyone feel connected has its challenges. Whether we're in an office, working from our living rooms, or part of a hybrid setup, we face a few hurdles.

First, there's isolation, especially in remote work. Picture this: you're at home, typing away, but it feels like you're on an island. You miss the quick chats by the water cooler or the spontaneous brainstorming sessions that happen when you bump into someone in the hallway. In remote setups, we often lose these informal, yet valuable, interactions. On average, 46% of remote workers feel lonely.

Then, there's the challenge of getting everyone on the same page. Ever played that game of Chinese whispers or telephone, where the message gets all jumbled up by the end? That's often what happens when we're trying to share information across a team. In a conventional workplace, you might just gather everyone in a room to clear things up. But in a remote or hybrid setting? It's not that simple. Emails, chats, video calls – you're juggling a lot, and sometimes, important details slip through the cracks.

And let's not forget about delays. Ever waited hours (or days) for a response to your email or chat message? When we're not working in the same space or even the same time zone, delays are common. They slow things down and can make teamwork feel like an uphill battle.

Also, building team spirit? That's a whole other challenge. It's tough to foster that sense of togetherness and belonging when we're not physically together. It's like trying to cook a meal without all the ingredients in the same kitchen. You can do it, but it takes extra effort and creativity. 

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How Microsoft Teams Apps help connect employees 

Microsoft Teams Apps are key to transforming a group of individuals into a cohesive and high-performing group. That makes them an indispensable asset in any leader's toolkit for creating a positive and effective work culture. Let's dive into how Teams Apps are really shaking things up in the world of team building and connection.

Mentoring

Employees value mentoring but when they’re juggling several tasks and deadlines, it’s hard to switch apps and remember to book a new session or follow up on the last one. 

With the Together platform embedded right in Microsoft Teams, diving into a mentoring session is super convenient. With the familiar interface of Microsoft Teams, mentors and mentees don’t need to switch between different applications and can engage in their mentoring sessions right in the flow of work. It’s the next level for easy-to-use and easier to access! 

Here’s how it works:

  • Mentors and mentees receive mentoring alerts directly in their Microsoft Teams DMs.
  • All of the features of Together for Teams are optimized for mobile use​​.
  • The integration allows for automatic login so users can dive into their mentorship program without the need for separate sign-ins.
  • Both admins and users have the option to tailor how they receive communications, be it via Microsoft Teams, email, or both, allowing for personalized communication preferences​​.

Personalized learning and skill development

Personalized learning allows for flexibility in pacing and learning styles, accommodating different needs and maximizing the potential for mastering new skills. It leads to more effective skill acquisition, better job performance, and increased career advancement opportunities for individuals, contributing to organizational growth.

With apps like LMS365, Viva Learning, OneNote for education, Immersive Reader, and Together for Teams, Microsoft Teams facilitates all kinds of learning programs. You can design and deliver personalized and engaging training programs and help your mentors and instructors upskill your team.  

Real-time communication

Microsoft Teams enables real-time communication through a variety of features that facilitate instant interaction and collaboration. Within Teams, users can engage in direct messaging, participate in group chats, and join audio or video calls, all of which support immediate, synchronous communication. 

The platform also offers the capability to host live meetings and webinars, allowing for interactive discussions and presentations.

Integrated project management

Coordinating on projects can be tricky, but Microsoft Teams has many apps that facilitate project management from within the platform. Take Asana for instance. Within Teams, users can add Asana projects as tabs, enabling direct access to their tasks and workflows. This integration allows team members to easily communicate about specific Asana tasks directly within Teams channels or chats.

Also, updates made in Asana reflect in real time on Teams, ensuring everyone stays on the same page. This seamless connection between the two platforms streamlines workflow, reduces the need to switch between apps, and keeps project management closely tied with team communication, thereby boosting overall productivity and team coordination.

Employee recognition and appreciation

Microsoft Teams Apps make celebrating wins, big or small, easy and fun. Kudos, an employee recognition and corporate social network software, integrates with Microsoft Teams to enhance workplace morale and recognition. Through this integration, users can send and receive Kudos, view company-wide announcements, and celebrate achievements directly within the Teams environment. 

The integration makes it convenient for employees to appreciate their colleagues' contributions without leaving the Teams platform.

Mobile accessibility

Mobile accessibility in Microsoft Teams is designed to ensure users can stay connected and productive regardless of their location. The Teams mobile app offers a comprehensive set of features that mirror the desktop experience, including instant messaging, audio and video calls, access to team channels, and the ability to view and edit shared files. Users can also participate in live meetings and collaborate on documents in real-time. 

The app's user-friendly interface and notifications keep team members updated and engaged, providing a seamless transition between desktop and mobile use.

Analytics and insights

Teams Apps offer analytics and insights, helping leaders get a clear picture of the team dynamics. Analytics 365 and Microsoft Teams' analytics and reporting center, while distinct applications, both enhance data-driven decision-making in Microsoft Teams. 

Analytics 365, with its business intelligence capabilities, integrates into Teams to provide in-depth insights into business processes and customer interactions. On the other hand, Teams' built-in analytics center focuses on workplace analytics, offering detailed reports on team engagement, meeting quality, and collaboration patterns. Together, they equip users with a comprehensive understanding of both business performance and team dynamics, enabling leaders to make informed decisions, improve productivity, and optimize team collaboration within the Microsoft Teams environment.

Best practices to connect teams

Connecting teams is not just about throwing tools at the problem, it's about smart strategies and practices. Here are some best practices for connecting teams:

1. Establish clear mentorship programs

Mentorship programs are not as simple as pairing people up and hoping for the best. You have to create a structure using the following steps:

All of the above is easy with Together for Teams. It's got automated matching, centralized communication, and even goal tracking.

2. Encourage regular mentor-mentee interactions

How often should mentors and mentees meet? There's no one-size-fits-all answer here. It could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. The key is consistency. Regular check-ins — whether they're formal meetings or a quick chat over coffee (virtual or otherwise) — can build strong, lasting relationships.

3. Flexibility in work arrangements

We're not all in the same boat when it comes to our work arrangements. Some are at the office, some are at home, and some are a mix of both. Organizations need to embrace this diversity in work styles. And technology, like Microsoft Teams Apps, is what makes this flexibility work. It ensures that no matter where you are, you're still a key part of the team.

4. Encourage cross-functional collaboration

Encourage your teams to mingle and mix! Get the marketing folks talking to the tech team, or have your salespeople brainstorm with customer support. Cross-functional collaboration breaks down barriers and opens up new perspectives. It's all about sharing expertise and learning from each other, creating a more connected and dynamic workplace.

5. Establish clear goals and objectives

Lastly, be crystal clear about your team's goals and objectives. Everyone should know what they're working towards and how their individual tasks tie into the bigger picture. It's about alignment and shared purpose. When everyone's rowing in the same direction, that's when you really start to see progress.

Improve your team's connectivity with Together

Ready to take your team's connectivity and collaboration to the next level? Meet Together for Teams. Seamlessly integrated into Microsoft Teams, this powerful platform is tailored to enhance your team’s engagement and productivity. Imagine streamlined mentorship, personalized learning opportunities, and enhanced real-time communication, all within the familiar Teams environment.

With Together for Teams, you can:

  • Effortlessly set up structured mentorship programs.
  • Foster meaningful connections, regardless of location.
  • Customize communication to suit your team's unique needs.

Why wait? Experience the transformation in team dynamics and see the results for yourself. 

Sign up for a demo in Microsoft Teams and start your mentorship journey today.

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