Last week, the second event in our
“Fall in love with…” series took place at
Microsoft’s towering Paddington offices. This month, we set the bar high, tackling
Office 365, and its core apps, in all their multitudinous glory.
But with so much potential and just two hours to nerd out, we decided to hunker down, focusing on two particular streams:
Katie McCallum, an Engage Consultant at WM Reply tackled the outer loop (the people you connect with openly across the organisation) and the
inner loop (the people you work with regularly on core projects) was covered by
James Mace, Senior SharePoint Consultant. In terms of the Microsoft app suite, when we talk about the outer loop, we’re mostly talking about
Yammer with is enablement of many-to-many communication. For the inner loop it’s
Teams (with a capital ‘T’) the app for small scale collaboration among, well, teams.
But before we branch out into the products and recap some of the key learnings from last week’s event, there’s a wider story that sits behind
Office 365 that’s important to understand.
James, a hardcore Teams advocate kicked off his talk at the event by taking a look at the evolution of our workplaces and the workflows that we use to navigate them. At the heart of his talk was the reality that while our workflows have been made digital, they are not digital workflows. For most of us we’re a way off from anything that resembles the
“Digital Workplace”, and that’s a problem.
For instance, when asked who still uses email, everyone in the audience put their hands up, asked again if it’s the first thing they check when they get to work
80% kept their hands up.
“What about checking it at home, before you leave for work?” James asked, while
more than half the audience kept their hands in the air.
“What about the very first thing you do when you wake up?” To this, the response finally dropped off a little, but
a third of the audience still had their hands up. Not bad for a technology that’s was invented during the Vietnam War.
Office communication hasn’t changed as much as we might like to think in the past half century. Digital files are still stored in digital folders, in digital filing cabinets. Communications are still parcelled up into a letter that is addressed and sent to its recipient. Putting “e” in front of the word mail, distinguishes it as online, but doesn’t mean that it’s a modern way of doing things.
In contrast, the way Office 365 is structured means that to get the most out of it, users have to embrace the fact that Digital Workplace exists, and begin to familiarise themselves with why it’s so much better. Sure, Office 365 will still work just fine if you’re tied to analogue workflows, but if you’re still emailing attachments from your desktop to your colleague’s, you should be doing so in the knowledge that you’re losing out on 90% of the technology’s potential.
There’s a whole host of apps within
Office 365 which offer exciting improvements to efficiency, productivity and ease of working. Tools like
SharePoint are amazing places to bring together a company’s internal culture;
Yammer offers uninhibited access to the expertise available across an entire organisation;
Microsoft Forms can be used to run quick, easy to set up polls that find out what colleagues and stakeholders are thinking;
PowerApps even lets your team customise processes based on their own specialised needs, by helping them build business ready applications from scratch.
Some of that you’ve probably heard us talk about before, and others we’ll go into in more detail in the very near future. For now, let’s pay attention to the inner loop, Teams, in particular, and look at how different the digital workplace could be.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself” -
In many cases, effective teamwork is the most important success factor. But teamwork means much more than having a strong sense of team spirit. It means having the processes and the tools to work in a truly collaborative manner, so that each person’s work is a catalyst for even greater work from their colleagues.
Teams is so good at doing that is its ability to bring together everything a team needs, in a space shared by the whole group. By itself,
Teams doesn’t actually do anything, the app has no specific functionality but at the same time it’s arguably more important than any of the others – it enables all the tools that fit into the working day to come together.
It’s perhaps best explained with an example, so here’s one taken from how we at
WM Reply use it. We’re interested in people who tweet at us, particularly around certain topics and specific hashtags. So we set a process up in another app, Flow, that monitors when someone tweets at us with one of the hashtags we’re tracking. It then automatically replies, thanking them for getting in touch, records their details in an Excel spreadsheet and assigns one of the team to follow-up with them. To make life even easier for that team member, it also provides the necessary information to do so and the relevant background on the kind of conversation we’re looking to have, be it business opportunity, marketing exercise or a promotion we’re running. We can even automatically block out time in the relevant person’s diary to make sure they know when to follow up and have the time to do it.
Within Teams, that spreadsheet, that Flow process, a conversation thread, the Planner access and the live materials needed for the conversation are all in a group on Teams, all live and all in one place. Everyone know what they need to do and if anything needs to be revised, built on top or changed, that can all be done simultaneously in the presence of the whole group in their space on Teams in just a few clicks. Simple, yet revolutionary.
That’s one snapshot of what the Digital Workplace looks like, there are many more. We hope you take the plunge and join us there, to find out what collaboration in 2018 is supposed to be like.
If your organisation has a lot of employees that work outside of your offices, on the front lines of your business, then we have date for diary: On the
28th of this month we’re running our third event in the series:
Fall in love with front line workers sign up
here - we hope to see you there.