How this pandemic can trigger a better organization of the digital workplace

Jun 11, 2021
  • people
  • Microsoft
  • COVID19

Do you know the digital workplace and all of its collaborative potential? Discover how collaboration can work for your business.

At first, shifting to a collective way of working online was quite a ‘wild move’, but now the future of remote working is being consolidated. How to make sure that digital workplace platforms deliver all its collaborative potential?

The key questions and lessons learned while implementing the digital workplace for our customers provides us with interesting insights into a successful shift towards the new way of working. Olivier Fabes and Eline Uvin, our change and communication experts for the digital workplace, share their take on how collaboration can work for business. 

Get your change message accross internally and boost user adoption.

3 important lessons learned for Microsoft Teams implementation

In 2020, digitalization of the workplace had to be done and it had to be done fast. But what about the long-term? Based on our customer experience, these three steps are crucial to make the implementation of a digital workplace succeed:

1. Create awareness and whet the appetite to discover

Explain the ‘why’:

Changing our working habits at home or at the office implies being completely informed on why this change is an improvement compared to the old, siloed ways of working. In circumstances where digital work is temporarily perceived as the ‘only way’, it is also important to explain the advantages of a MS Teams-based digital workplace in the long run, when everyone will be able to go back to the office. It’s only when we truly understand the why and the how that we feel eager to start exploring and develop a new habit of being collaborative at work.

The workplace is changing dramatically in terms of time, space and collaboration mode. Explaining why the new ways of working are important for the company, the team and every individual is an important part of our change and communication strategy.

Explain the ‘how’:

Once people know why this is important, we create change awareness using various formats so people feel the urge to discover more on their own. Here are some examples on how we make people keen to use MS Teams and other digital workplace services:

  • Make short videos: These videos can include MS Teams interviews of a project sponsor, or animated movies to share the change vision or show concrete benefits and actions to put into practice right away.
  • Simplify and clarify abstract concepts: Explain in simple terms what the whole philosophy behind Office365 as a digital workplace enabler includes. It’s not always clear for everyone what abstract concepts as ‘the cloud’ or SaaS really mean. Make sure it’s clear for everyone what happens behind a sync between the cloud and their PC. This is an important prerequisite to truly grasp the functioning of OneDrive, SharePoint or MS Teams.
  • Share the possibilities: Spread short testimonials from users who share their own experience, paying attention to cover a large spectrum of what Office365 can offer. This way you can show the small and more important benefits of using MS Teams and how it can help you collaborate and communicate more efficiently. Be sure to think out-of-the-box. Setting very broad scenarios is key, for example by referring to OneNote, Planner, co-authoring in MS Teams, etc..

2. Provide easy access to knowledge

People need to feel at ease with the tools they will use day-in and day-out. At times like these we face challenges to access necessary information and to keep up with the constantly changing look & feel or different functionalities the new platform brings.

not everyone has an identical pace when it comes to adopting new learnings. A more digital-minded crowd is eager to discover new tools in self-service at their own pace, while others learn in a more guided, human-centered way. And that’s perfectly normal. It’s our job to find the matching communication and learning format, so everyone is able to pick his or her own learning track
Eline Uvin, Senior change management consultant

Being creative with sources of information, we managed to bend these challenges towards opportunities. In our expert opinion, classical informational sessions or trainings should be replaced by other formats, for example:

Create a network of ambassadors to guide their colleagues: As more ‘informal’ contacts like discussions at the coffee machine are not possible right now, ambassadors are the way to go if you want to collect feedback from users or to ease the workload of IT support by answering small questions. When onboarding your ambassadors, it is crucial to make them understand that their digital role should be more proactive – searching contact with their colleagues via chat for instance – then reactive, because questions won’t come up that spontaneously as in the physical office.

Target team leaders directly: In COVID-19 times, relying on ambassadors is not enough. You can also raise awareness and enhance communication by targeting team leaders directly. They are, after all, the main drivers in terms of collaboration, and the prime examples to follow. By organizing Q&A sessions for those team leaders and providing them with presentation material, you support them in the best possible way and allow them to cascade key messages to the end users.

Set up webinars: We’re currently experiencing an excess in webinars, as they are the main way of communicating online. As a result, people have reached a certain numbness to them. That’s why it’s even more important to capture their attention when you use webinars for training. How?

  • Slice the learning content in snackable pieces of maximum 5 minutes.
  • Be quite directive in requesting people to watch them. Explain that it is a (short) time investment that will pay off (by avoiding wasting time and energy trying to solve problems later).
  • Make it a prerequisite before other information sessions, Q&As or workshops.
  • Propose ‘guided trainings’ (although remotely) for those who are less keen to explore on their own.

Build a help portal: In COVID-19 times, it’s even more important to have a central point of information where everyone can find answers. Make sure you keep the content up-to-date and share the updates with your audience.

3. Enhance collaboration through guidance

Every platform has its unique purpose to increase collaboration. Email is the most used way to collaborate with colleagues, but more possibilities emerge once we learn how to share more intensively. How do we motivate coworkers to create new workspaces and share knowledge through other means than email?

Governance ‘by design’ is needed: delaware designed a governance layer embedded in Microsoft Teams, called Workspaces, which helps to create and manage collaborative workspaces, based on commonly accepted security and governance rules. It includes a digital wizard, guiding you step-by-step to configure your own workspace as well as a dashboard to manage all your workspaces.

Provide guidance on how to organize your workspace by sharing best practices on file structure, naming conventions, tabs, etc.

  • Organize coaching sessions with influential users to help them transition from their old ways of working to the new world of collaboration
  • Industrialize common lessons learnt through specific templates each user can apply to his/her workspace
  • Share organizational best practices through a Help Portal

VIP coaching: Individual coaching sessions for top management pay off as they foster buy-in from the top and make leading by example much easier. Do not underestimate the time and effort spent in coordinating the agendas.

  • Keep the coaching sessions short (30 minutes maximum, between 2 and 4 sessions depending on how the executive in question is at ease with the Office365 tools).
  • After a short introduction on the cloud philosophy behind Office365, go in ‘hands-on’ coaching mode, starting from the real needs and questions of the executive.
  • Work in sync with the IT systems team so that the laptop of the executive is correctly configured when you start the hands-on coaching.
  • Invite the executive assistant(s), as Office365 is about collaboration and assistants play a key role in getting many things done.

COVID-19 was an extraordinary accelerator for the adoption of Microsoft Teams. We never used chat and virtual meetings as much as in the last months. This rush to Microsoft Teams was a unique opportunity for many users to get a leg up. However, it takes structured change management and governed processes to make sure that users tap into the real collaborative potential of an ever-evolving digital workplace.

New way of working

During the pandemic, companies had to start up fast and purchase licenses quickly to facilitate home work. The vision on how to set up a collaboration platform can therefore be lost. However, COVID-19 was in some cases also the trigger for companies to organize their future digital workplace. MS Teams is the first step in this new way of working, but needs to be well-supervised and not implemented in a hurry. Do it right and the digital workplace can guide people and companies towards their future of work.

Want to start organizing your own digital workplace?