Need to make a call, drop an IM, or have an online meeting? Check.
Need to collaborate on a doc? Coauthoring comes automatically.
Want to share notes as you brainstorm with your team? A shared OneNote is built in.
These features are built into Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork in Office 365 which became available to Office 365 subscribers in March.
“Our employees have new expectations for how we work,” says Sarah Lundy a business program manager at Microsoft Core Services Engineering (CSE, formerly Microsoft IT). “We’re seeking physical and digital workspaces that feel inclusive and open, where we can easily share, connect, and work together.”
At Ignite 2017, Microsoft announced that Teams will become a single client experience for chat, calling, and meetings, replacing the Skype for Business client gradually over time.
The two applications will run side by side until Teams integrates Skype for Business features along with innovations planned for Microsoft Teams. “If you are a new customer, we highly encourage you to go straight to Teams as it will become the primary client,” says Pouneh Kaufman, a principal program manager in Microsoft CSE. Most Skype for Business features are available in Teams today, she says.
Employees got Microsoft Teams a year ago, part of a companywide effort to adopt a more collaborative culture. “We are really pushing hard, (Microsoft CEO) Satya (Nadella) has been encouraging everyone to start using Teams,” Kaufman says.
When Microsoft employees use Microsoft Teams, their collaboration increases. “We need tools that help manage the increased flow of information, making insights more discoverable and allowing employees to connect and collaborate regardless of location. Microsoft Teams helps us do that,” Lundy says.
Employees have been evaluating Teams and Skype for Business side by side. “We foresee that they will gradually start to use Teams as their primary communication app,” Kaufman says. “We expect uptake to grow through awareness and training campaigns.
Working on Microsoft Teams is about much more than getting employees to try a new company product, it’s about getting them to embrace a fundamentally different way of working, says Karuana Gatimu, a principal program manager for Teams.
“You can use it to drive cultural change and operational efficiency,” she says. “This helps us feel more connected to what’s happening at Microsoft and the actual transformation we are going through—our cultural transformation isn’t just on paper, it’s real.”
Gatimu says she can feel a difference in the way the company works. “When I first started working here, the vibe of Microsoft was totally different,” she says. “Now we’re more inclusive, we’re more humble, and we’re more open, and supportive of each other, and the work we do, especially when we roll out a new product like Microsoft Teams.”
She’s been impressed by the large number of employees who took to Microsoft Teams, adding that they’ve come up with some surprising and fun ways to collaborate on the app.
Getting employees to give Teams a try
When CSE first rolled out the Microsoft Teams collaboration app to employees, they partnered with the product engineering group to offer hands-on training seminars and demos. They also created readiness guides that employees could draw on as needed.
“Giving people the opportunity to come and see someone demo the tool and talk through how to do things has been really effective,” Lundy says.
Microsoft Teams encourages employees to get their work done all in one application—a “hub for teamwork,” Lundy says. She says this change in thinking marks a significant culture shift for longtime employees who like working out of email to communicate and who are used to a more disconnected set of tools to get their work done.
“While I think it’s second nature for millennial users, for some of the people who have been at Microsoft a little while, this is a big shift in how they do their daily work,” Lundy says. “Giving them the opportunity to learn from a trainer, see it in action, and then ask questions really helps get them over that hump.”
Lundy says everyone has different learning styles and it was important to provide options for people to choose what’s best for them according to their learning style. Some learn best by attending hands-on lessons while others prefer to browse how-to readiness guides or watch a video.
To see a demo and to learn more about the features in Microsoft Teams watch this video.
When it comes getting usage numbers up, awareness and encouragement were among the first steps the CSE team had to take, Lundy says. “If you are really trying to get people to make a shift, they need to see things seven different times in seven different ways, as the old marketing adage goes,” she says.
When Microsoft Teams launched for general availability, the company kicked off an internal adoption campaign that included online help content, a social campaign on Yammer, posters, digital signage, and promotions on internal portals to encourage employees to give the new collaboration app a try.
Creating a bit of fun and mystery was also a key part of deployment.
“We wanted to give people who are really excited about Teams an opportunity to get recognition though gamification,” Lundy says. “We’ll soon make it so employees can earn badges or points for helping drive adoption of Teams.”
There wasn’t a big push toward managers when Microsoft Teams was first released, and that was a bit of a miss, says Lundy. “It’s something we are learning from now,” she says.
As a response, there are now people behind the scenes working on a special change management kit for internal managers. “It helps them prepare for a big technology change,” she says.
Microsoft is continuing to drive interest with training courses and by having Teams-themed conversations on Yammer.
External customers can get help with their Teams deployment at the Success with Teams website. For more information on how Microsoft Core Services Engineering deploys Microsoft products, visit Microsoft IT Showcase.