The scale of the current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyday life across the globe. The long-term implications will affect not only how we view, react and manage future contagions, but also how we function in our familial, social and work environments. Faced with remote-work mandates, enterprises must make prompt decisions to safeguard critical business functions and operations while meeting business-continuity requirements. For many organizations, enabling workers to be productive from remote locations hasn’t been a priority, especially if a physical presence has been considered a prerequisite.
Microsoft’s flagship product, “Teams,” part of the Office 365 family, empowers a workforce to be effective anywhere. Teams assembles several tools and communication methods to provide a hub for collaboration across business units and geographies. Even staff meetings can be held through Teams, sometimes in a more robust way than in-person discussions because participants can share and review content in real time.
Deploying Teams begins with a quick assessment of the current landscape, planning the migration, piloting deployments to identify challenges or risks, and applying quick mitigations to ensure a smooth rollout. This rapid deployment model takes two to six weeks from beginning to end, after which employees can leverage a secure, highly reliable platform to collaborate and do their best work.
Teams integrates with the full Office suite, SharePoint, the new Planner task-management app, Stream video portal — even Power BI — so employees have immediate access to the information and tools they need to remain productive remotely. If companies use different collaboration channels such as Slack, Zoom, WebEx or Skype, Teams can also serve as a useful complement to reduce the risk of relying on a single channel for day-to-day and critical communications.
Enterprises consistently demand security, particularly when deploying or engaging remote workers. Teams benefits from enterprise-grade security integrated with the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center and Azure Active Directory. Along with Microsoft 365, this allows employees to connect securely to an environment they trust for efficient collaboration regardless of location or device.
A Teams Innovation Solutions framework can help enterprises as they transform and/or empower remote workforce to connect, communicate and collaborate from home.
Much like employees are adapting to a remote-working lifestyle, enterprises are embarking on their own change-management exercises. Successfully adopting Teams is not just about technology; it represents a behavior change. It changes the way we work, and this change is as much about people and culture as it is about technology and skills. Having a readily available Change Management toolkit – inclusive of multilingual training materials, user guides and videos – can enable faster adoption and communication planning.
It is also important to consider employee safety across the remote-working environment. Using a governance and security framework can help companies rapidly deploy and setup a well-governed environment that respects corporate policies regarding retention, data-loss prevention, eDiscovery automation, conditional access, device management, and more.
After migration, Teams should be supported using a shared-services model that enables increased tickets across L1 and L2 staff. Care should also be taken to integrate Teams with other Microsoft 365 service apps, third-party apps and tenant apps, deploying them selectively to enhance employees’ productivity while protecting information. If desired, enterprises may also seek design, development and deployment of custom MS Teams apps to integrate LOB systems.
To address the current environment, Teams has several add-on features that are relevant to the pandemic, including:
- FAQ Plus: Conversational Q&A bots to provide frequently asked questions related to COVID-19
- Crisis Communicator: Enables customers to coordinate their own information sharing and team collaboration
- Scrum bot: Helps with asynchronous remote stand-up meetings and provides an easy way for users to share their daily updates
- Contact Communicator: Assists end users in their search for online contacts from important teams/distribution lists
Facilitating remote collaboration with Microsoft Teams can help companies quickly address the current crisis. If deployed properly, it can also prepare enterprises for an uncertain future that may require more-frequent telework.