The outbreak of Covid-19 in Greece in March of 2020 drove many companies to initiate a state of remote working. As this practice was not widely used in Greece until then, employees faced unprecedented challenges. For a significant number of department workers, operating as a team while maintaining physical distance became a difficult task.
These problems became more notably pressing in companies where the proper handling of processes requires constant and organized communication, such as the companies of the shipping sector.
The demand for e-mail communication that serves not only the needs of individuals but also the needs of groups, teams, and departments, preexists the pandemic and teleworking. In this context, the fundamental limitations of the very successful Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail system have been overcome by Astris TeamWare Solution. Astris allows a truly departmental mode of operation, at least as far as e-mail handling is concerned. Το help its Astris users, MetaDocs provided insight into its additional collaboration features, including:
- Keywords/Tagging – Messages can be automatically tagged with Outlook’s color categories to allow very quick filtering. This facility allows for the creation of truly efficient Search Folders. Keywords can also be added quickly to messages and can be set to circulate to the user’s department or to the entire company. In this manner, a manager can tag a message as “Urgent” to let his/her staff know about the urgency of a matter. In this case, a user who has created an Outlook Search Folder for “Urgent” will suddenly see the particular message pop in this folder after the manager tags it as such. Keywords/tagging can also be used as a quick way of assigning tasks to specific people and marking their completion.
- Replied By / Read By / Filed by – Users can know if anyone else (and who!) has already read, replied or filed any message even before they open it. Another column shows the name of the user(s) who has/have replied to any message right next to it.
The importance of such features is what makes teleworking possible without a constant flow of chat among employees on the whereabouts of important messages.
- Considering that teleworking in Greece is mostly based on a rotating schedule, almost all office workers in shipping companies have worked remotely until now. Additionally, a more permanent shift toward telecommuting is thought to be possible in the future.
- 4 out of 10 Astris users stated that they have already been significantly helped by the additional features. Almost all users agreed that they found the features interesting and that they are planning to use them soon.