With Teams, you have everything you need to work from anywhere

Randy Chapman Mar 4 2020

I don’t want to be seen to be exploiting a bad situation, but my experience may help you.  If you are forced to work from home (or even if you choose to), with Microsoft Teams, you really do have everything you need to be productive from anywhere.

Flashback

It has been possible to work remotely for years.  However, before the cloud and Microsoft 365, when everything was on-premises, it took some planning to get it working properly.  Many companies turn to the trusty VPN (Virtual Private Network) to connect remote workers in to work services, files, intranets and line of business apps.

The mobile phone aside, systems like email were among the first to allow true VPN-less connectivity.  I remember when I was first able to read and respond to emails when I was out of the office, between meetings.  There was a fundamental paradigm shift from I work when I’m at work to I work whenever I can.  I take it for granted that I’ll be able to use email from a laptop on the train or a smart phone sitting in front of the TV.

Next was file access.  There were a couple of ways to get VPN-less remote file access in the early days.  SharePoint was one.  But cloud file storage changed everything.  Services like SkyDrive (now OneDrive) changed everything.  I could store files in the cloud and get at them from anywhere and even sync for offline access.

Fast forward a little

I’ve been working remotely for over 6 years.  6 years ago I had a VPN to get at certain files that hadn’t been moved to SharePoint.  SharePoint to get at others that hadn’t been moved from the file servers (which I could access without a VPN).  Outlook on the PC or “Mail” on my iPhone for email (again, no VPN required).  And Lync for chat, meetings and telephony.  I had to have a copy of Office installed to read and write documents and Visio for diagrams.

I could meet using Lync (and eventually Skype for Business).  I could use audio and video and share a document or my desktop.  But I still did a lot of face to face meetings.  At least as first meetings.  Subsequent meetings moved to Lync.  I rarely used video.

Now

I have Teams.  In Teams, I have access to chat, meetings and telephony.  But I also have access to files, both in channels and in cloud storage.  And although I still have Office installed (for heavy edits), I can edit or even write documents right in Teams using Office Online.

I still use Outlook on the desktop for email.  I use it on my iPhone now too.  But I managed to add an app to Teams that gives me Outlook Web App inside Teams.  So I don’t even need Outlook on the desktop.

I still have face to face meetings, but a lot fewer than I used to have.  I mostly have face to face meetings if I want to show something physical, like a phone or meeting room setup.  But I probably have 20 Teams meetings a week now.  The meeting experience in Teams is sublime.  Both for organizers and internal attendees and external participants.  It really “just works”.  Audio and video quality is always excellent.  I find that I always turn on video now.  Which seems to be contagious and is quickly reciprocated by others in the meeting.  And I can share a document, my desktop or a PowerPoint deck and I can do whiteboarding to ideate on designs.

I am based at home in a dedicated home office.  But the best thing is that I can do all of the above, on a laptop (with internet) from anywhere.  I work on trains, from café’s and on park benches.  I’ve had Teams meetings in motorway services, coffee shops, train stations and while walking between appointments.

What’s next?

More of the same.  We’ve already reduced travel and travel related expenses by quite a lot.  I expect this to be reduced even further.  We’re installing more Microsoft Teams Rooms in our offices which means we can have bigger remote meetings between larger groups of office based staff and either other offices, remote workers and even customers.

About the author

Randy joined Enablit early in 2014 and is the lead solutions architect and Head of Consulting. He is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for Teams, a blogger, speaker, evangelist & enthusiast of all things Microsoft UC. Randy has worked in IT and telecoms for over 20 years, with the last 10 years focusing on Lync, Skype for Business and Teams.