Working Remote - Five Tips for Collaborating

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If you have been approved to work remotely (or work with someone who is remote) there are numerous approaches on collaboration to consider.  Since situations vary across the city, please reflect on this article in its entirety as approaches may vary among departments and staff.  Below are some tips, but always feel free to contact IT.

Microsoft 365 has tools that do not require a phone to make conference calls.  Outlook and Teams have this capability built in and are internally and publicly available.  These conversations occur on the internet and not the phone system, so some of your usual workflows for collaborating may change.  For best results, is recommended that staff access Outlook and Teams from a city-issued device (laptop, desktop, or mobile device) OR by remotely accessing your city-issued desktop.

  1. First, consider your microphone and speaker situation.  

    Some devices have a microphone and speaker but consider using earbuds or headphones. Since most people have mobile devices these days, you may have a set of earbuds that came with the device. Find the port on your laptop/desktop that looks like headphones and plug in the 3.5 mm pin.  You may get a prompt on your laptop/desktop to select the audio source near the volume controls.

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    If your laptop/desktop does not have microphone and speaker functionality or if you do not have access to earbuds/headphones, consider using a mobile device with the Teams app. This will connect you to a Teams meeting using the internet and not the phone.

    IT may have extra earbuds for staff.  Please ask via a support ticket and we will find a way to get them to you.

  2. Next, in Outlook consider how to set up or join a meeting. Creating an appointment from Outlook has greater functionality than creating an appointment in the Teams app.

    To set up a meeting in Outlook, go to your Calendar Home ribbon, click on “New Teams Meeting” and fill out the appointment details. This will create a Teams meeting link within the appointment for all participants.

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    To join a meeting, go to the Appointment in your Outlook calendar and click on “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting”.  This replaces the need for a conference bridge and ID.  The meeting occurs on the internet.

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    Everyone joins via the online link.  As people join, you will see their photo thumbnail in the appointment.  At this point, anyone can mute or share screens.  Video is only possible if your device has a camera (this is usually not necessary) and it is turned on.

    To join a meeting for external participants, they can download the Microsoft Teams app online or on their mobile device and “Join as a guest” after clicking “Join Microsoft Teams Meeting”.  Alternatively, they can join online without the app, however the app is recommended and offers better functionality.  It is not possible to join on a smart phone without the app.  They will follow prompts to join the meeting on their computer or mobile device.  

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    If they do not have a microphone and speaker on their computer, recommend that they check their email for the meeting appointment on their mobile device and click on the link within the appointment.  If staff do not have a microphone and speaker, check with IT to see if earbuds are available to plug into your device.

    **NOTE:  A conference phone number is NOT necessary and is only available on a limited number of Microsoft 365 licenses at the city.  (more details here).  Teams provides phone calls over the internet so a phone number is not required.

  3. You can also use the Teams app to collaborate internally (more details here):

    To audio call within the Teams app Chat, use the phone icon. This makes a call on the internet and not phone line.  At this point, anyone on the Chat can mute or share screens.  Video is only possible if your device has a camera (this is usually not necessary) and it is turned on.

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    To instant message within the Teams app, click on Chat and select or create a conversation.  Consider these conversations short-term.  For example, no one would cry if these chats got deleted nightly.  Use Teams channels (below Chat) for long-term collaborations.

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  4. Please consider these remote audio-conferencing etiquette tips when working remotely or with remote workers.
  5. More resources are in the Microsoft Teams section of the IT Support Center.

IT will be available to assist, below are three ways of submitting a support ticket for assistance.  

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