The future of workplace collaboration: what does it look like and how does Teams enable it?

By Lucy Wright - March 17, 2020

The emergence of new modern workplace technologies in the last few years has changed the way we work, and even the way the workplace looks. Remote working platforms, like Microsoft Teams, have enabled people to work together, without being together. It's a growing trend seen in businesses of almost every kind in every sector, and studies reflect that. Remote work statistics for 2019 by Global Workplace Analytics found that:

  • 69% of employers offer remote work on an ad-hoc basis to at least some employees
  • 42% of employers offer remote working part-time, and 27% offer it full-time
  • 40% more US employers offer flexible workspace options now than five years ago
  • Studies repeatedly show that desks are empty 50 -60% of the time

And the consensus seems to be that the workforce is happy about it. The same study found that:

  • 80% of employees want to work from home
  • 35% of employees would change jobs to be able to work remotely full-time
  • Two to three days remote work per week is the 'sweet spot' for employees when it comes to remote working pattern

The clear trend is that remote working is fast becoming the norm, not the exception, bolstered not only by the advent of new modern workplace technology and collaboration software, but by a workforce increasingly made up of millennials and Gen Z'ers who expect to be able to work remotely, and even go as far as to make career decisions based on this. Ever-improving broadband speeds and the launch of 5G has only accelerated the popularity of mobile working. It's a perfect storm of conditions that has taken collaboration out of the confines of the office walls and made it possible from anywhere, at any time. 

If that's how the remote working landscape looked at the end of 2019, how will it change over the coming 12 months? 

Gartner predict that this year, half of the US workforce will work outside of the traditional office setting most of the time. As the traditional office model shifts to become a digital workplace, more and more companies are embracing and adopting cloud technologies, which don't require traditional servers or any kind of office space to run. However you look at it, the way we work, both as individuals and together, is shifting. 'Coming to work' is no longer a physical act - it's a digital one. 

The role of Microsoft Teams

Since its launch three years ago, Microsoft Teams has played an integral part in enabling remote working throughout the world, and will continue to play a crucial part in the evolution of workplace collaboration. 

Teams combines the productivity applications of Office 365 in a single, shared, secure space, which also includes chat and virtual meeting functionality so users can communicate instantly and work together on projects, without being in the same room. We like to think of it as a single pane of glass for productivity. 

 

Enabling the future of workplace collaboration 

If the future of workplace collaboration is in fact, collaboration outside of the workplace, how will Teams make that happen? Here are the key features that make it possible.

Teams

The Teams function in Microsoft Teams is the fundamental principle of the app and the foundation on which everything is built.

To make collaboration more streamlined, targeted and project-specific, Teams lets users create Teams and Channels for different projects or groups, and add the relevant people to those Teams, creating a single hub for collaboration around each topic, project or company team. 

The creation of a channel within a team makes collaboration and communication even more granular. Once a Team is created, every action that takes place by any user in that Team is recorded, and an ongoing dialogue around the project, which permits sharing files and notes, begins. 

When a Team is no longer needed, or a project is complete, you can delete or archive a Team to keep your environment 'clean' and uncluttered. Teams that are used infrequently, but need to remain active, can be hidden from view. 

Chat and calls

The chat and calls feature in Teams connects employees from any location, allowing you to communicate instantly wherever you are. Video calls lets users dial in to meetings wherever they are and join virtual meetings, so everyone can be kept in the loop on specific projects, whether they're in the office or not. Screen sharing is also possible in Teams - there's really nothing you can't do in there that you can do in a 'real' face to face meeting.

Chat lets user instant message one another, and upload files to the chat so that conversations can be project or even document specific. All your conversations are saved in Teams, so you can always see what was discussed at any time, and there also searchable, so you can quickly zone in on specific discussions. The 'Activity' tab further breaks down your chat history and conversation, with a timeline of activity for every conversation.

Files

Teams lets you access, edit and save all of your SharePoint-stored files, within the app; a game changer for users who find themselves constantly switching between applications throughout the day. 

Whether it's an Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation, OneNote page or Word document, it can be worked on in Teams, and by more than one person at once. Any documents uploaded to a chat will appear in Files, so users have everything they need in one place. 

Calendar

Calendar in Teams integrates your Outlook calendar with the app, allowing users to see their availability and schedule meetings with a couple of clicks.

Next steps

With Skype for Business retiring in 2021, there's never been a better time to start using Microsoft Teams. Far more than a like-for-like replacement of Skype, Teams brings all the communication capabilities of SfB and tons of additional features that make collaborating quick and easy, and working processes more streamlined.

We understand that implementing new tech can be daunting, and it can be hard to know where to begin. For this reason, we offer Teamwork Assessment designed to help organisations better understand the opportunities for improved teamwork and collaboration in their business, and how capitalising on these can help you achieve your business objectives more quickly and easily.

More information on our teamwork offerings can be found here, or, if you're ready to book your assessment, click the button below.

 

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