Working From Home — Microsoft Teams Surges.

Figure 1: Microsoft Teams

In 2016, Slack- an online messaging platform- was gaining traction among the technology industry. With a low pricing enterprise offering, many companies adopted this chatting platform to improve communications between employees. This shift caught the eye from the leadership from Microsoft because many companies previously depended on Skype Business to do one of the many features Slack support.

Leaked information got out very quickly. Microsoft attempted to buy Slack for $8 Billion. Microsoft didn’t commit to the purchase, and ended up shifting their focus internally.

Fast forward to 2017, Microsoft Teams (or Teams in short) was released.

To be fair, there were many issues when Teams was released. Many users complained about missing features that Slack offered, and major bugs such as Teams’ client unable to launch on particular workstations.

The company I am employed at is a close partner to Microsoft. In fact, the software we deliver to our clients is based on .NET framework, and thus we heavily depend on Windows and other Microsoft offerings to sustain our software product. We had a few months experience using Slack, and the move to Teams seemed to “piss” off many of my colleagues. Refer to the missing features and bugs above.

I kept telling them to be patient.

Today, Microsoft announced recently that their daily active users increased to 44M users, a jump of 37% from a week prior. Obviously the increase is due to the COVID-19 situation that has forced many companies to adopt a “Working From Home” (WFH) policy.

Teams is now bundled into Office 365 for enterprises. It’s included for “free”. They’re killing their Skype Business product with their own product. This is innovation. This is being proactive instead of being reactive.

I would select the “Skype Meeting” feature from Outlook when setting up virtual meetings. However, as March 2020, I always select the “Teams Meeting”. I don’t do Skype Business anymore. Teams is just a superior product.

Here are a few features that Teams offer that have found themselves to be quite useful:

Full integration with Office 365

Conversation channels (threads!)

Cross-platform with iOS and Android devices

Collaboration both internally and externally

And many other features.

So how can Teams help organizations and employees in the grand scheme of things?

Working from home in 2020 should be the norm.

Figure 2: Working from home becomes the norm in 2020. Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Unfortunately, many companies cannot adopt the WFH policy. The biggest reason? Infrastructure. You would be surprised how many white collar workers do not have laptops. The whole COVID-19 situation has exposed many organizations about their lack of investment in I.T. to promote WFH. Of course you can’t WFH if you can’t access your company’s network remotely or your company did not adopt technologies that promote collaboration tools (such as Teams).

I suspect that will be the biggest change after this pandemic slows down. WFH becomes a “norm”. Although many companies have allowed WFH in the past, it was always frowned upon by some individuals.

“Come to the office if you can” was the motto. I don’t think this will be the motto anymore. I actually think WFH becomes the popular norm in which many employees will favor, and organizations will have to adopt.

Cut commute time (people underestimate how much time you spend commuting to/from work!), spend more time with your family, eliminate office drama and distractions, and be more productive in general. These are some of the many benefits of WFH.

Is Teams perfect? Of course not. But get Teams installed — this is the future of collaboration. Working from home can be a serious challenge if the technology used between employees does not allow them to be productive and efficient.

Millennials and the next generations are going to live in a world where WFH is accepted and embraced.

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