The new kid in Microsoft Teams

Mar 21, 2017   |  

It’s the classic chicken and egg scenario: What comes first, using an application or launching it? For us at Microsoft, the logical order of things is not that simple. When we create new things–things like Microsoft Teams–we are the first to set the path and draw the map, brave explorers in new and exciting territory.

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace in Office 365. Teams is secure, with customizable options, and is a great hub for teamwork and team communication. (For more details on how Teams works, check out Office Blogs.)

Teams was officially launched on March 14, and is now generally available in 181 markets and 19 languages, but I want to take you back to the second half of last year, when I first made its acquaintance.

As an internal communication manager for Microsoft IT, my job is to help make employees aware of a process or product so they can successfully adopt and use it. One of the awesomest (yes, to me that is a word) parts about my job is coming to work and having instant message exchanges like this:

Manager: Hey, can you do the internal communications and readiness for the launch of a new product? Click here to download and get started. Good luck!

Me: [bewildered emoji]

I would be making a plan to help Microsoft employees learn more about and preview an upcoming new product for conversation, teamwork, and collaboration. And to organize this effort to get internal employees using an early version of Microsoft Teams, we would be using … Microsoft Teams. Whoa. Pretty meta, right?

One quick download and I was in, a new hub for conversation and productivity stretching out before me. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Microsoft Teams launch group already living in the tool, and conversations already happening. Like the nervous new kid at school, I started my first Microsoft Teams post: “hi [apprehensive lowercase]. I am your internal readiness and communications manager.” Within seconds, I was rolling in “welcomes,” likes, and animated GIFs from the Microsoft Teams team, all of whom were working hard to finish the new tool for its internal and external preview in November.

Microsoft Teams threaded conversations view
With Microsoft Teams, you have access to all the conversations you need at once, so you can stay in the loop and contribute effectively.

Normally when I join a project there is a far-flung flurry of emails, IMs, and conversations to coordinate from a variety of locations. With Microsoft Teams, I had access to all the conversations I needed at once–no lost threads, no “Oops, forgot to add you” emails. Even though I was late to the game, I was looped-in and up-to-speed in a matter of minutes.

Emboldened, I made post number two: “Can anyone tell me where the content plan is?” Immediately, I got a response: “Try the Files tab.” Oops. That was like asking the smartest kids at school the way to the bathroom while standing under the bathroom sign. I clicked the “Files” tab. Project jackpot! All the documents  I needed in one place.

I pored over the files and began putting the internal communications framework together. It was not just access to the content that made it super cool, but the in-app collaboration with my team through ongoing chats. I was able to reach out to the Microsoft Teams experts a few more times, and I would hear back from several people with unique viewpoints about the product. For the extra novice questions I was too insecure to ask in front of the whole team, I used the private chat feature.

In no time, navigation became very fluid. I trained myself to look in files first, and to find ways to get attention in a crowd. I like Microsoft Teams. I like the one-stop ease, and the simplicity of the navigation. The take away for me is how everything connects, all in one place, and with customizable options. Conversations are flowing, supporting files are all there, my common applications are connected, and my feeds are syncing.

There were a few challenges. Before November, when Microsoft Teams launched internally for all employees to try, I was one foot in and one foot out—some of my work was in Microsoft Teams and some in various places in Office 365. I was sandwiched between two worlds, waiting for everyone else to catch up. I was super excited to jump all in, but had to patiently wait for my remaining colleagues to come along (insert the Final Jeopardy theme song here).

Fast forward to November, when employees all over the world started downloading and using Microsoft Teams in advance of its public launch this month. We made it, with cheers of success. And I made it. For jumping in to the middle of a project as an add-on member, it was mostly painless. And best of all, we used the product we were launching as our hub to get stuff done. Despite being the new girl, I was never shoved in a digital locker. Like any first day, there is a lot to digest: new spaces, new environment, and new ways of thinking. Microsoft Teams may be a little overwhelming to some and exciting for others that first day, but as with any new learning experience, it becomes second nature after you get going. You’ll feel like an upper classman in no time.

Tags: ,