man on phone in front of "productivity" sign
PHOTO: Andreas Klassen

Many companies are in the midst of a digital transformation shift, adopting new services to increase employee productivity and eliminate clunky manual processes. At the same time, these companies are slowly weighing their options and restricting access to many features that have the power to add efficiencies in the workplace. While organizations absolutely should not roll out collaboration features until they have governance and business process strategies in place, it’s also important to embrace innovation and take on an entrepreneurial spirit.

Communication platforms can help overcome some of these challenges. Microsoft Teams has enabled collaboration and increased productivity within my organization in several ways.

Related Article: It's Early Days Still for Microsoft Teams

1. Informal Communication

Emojis, GIFs, reactions and other chat features are now ubiquitous in our everyday text conversations. As a result, the formal language typically found in emails feels stiff in comparison. Microsoft Teams enables the use of these features, adding much more emotional conveyance to every interaction. For urgent and highly visible projects, emoticons can help deliver the same message in a way that doesn’t feel harsh or berating.

The Teams phone app creates even more opportunity for informal communication, however, you’ll want to manage notifications to ensure a healthy work-life balance. Once we found the optimal settings, the Teams app has allowed our organization to work more smoothly and quickly while simultaneously reducing stress.

2. Segmented Notifications

Microsoft Teams notifications are organized to help users stay on top of updates and requests. In some ways, this is the inverse of the previous point. I always try to communicate the level of urgency with a request — and if it’s really important I’ll just pin the conversation for a short period of time.

For low urgency requests, I’ll send reminders by copying and pasting the original text accompanied simply with the word “bump.” This technique brings the task back into the conversation, so it doesn’t get buried under piles of new communication, as is frequently the case with email. You can also track tasks with the To-Do list integration or the sticky note feature, both of which make it easy to check on, follow up with and organize the priority of requests.

3. Event Coordination

Our marketing team has started using Teams to manage events that require a lot of planning and coordination, like Microsoft Ignite. The Team acts as a central hub to organize travel, set up calendar events, manage event-related tasks and store event documentation.

We usually keep the General Chat somewhat social, relying on channels to arrange travel accommodations and schedules, as well as to communicate agendas and get attendees on the same page. Teams has made events easier for the marketing team to coordinate, as well as for attendees to navigate, reducing overall stress and freeing up some social bandwidth to focus on building relationships with partners and customers.

Related Article: Are Collaboration and Productivity at Odds in the Workplace?

4. File Access

Teams also makes sharing and gaining access to files much easier for organizations. We keep all the files associated with specific projects in the associated Team, making it quick and painless to link to and share information with the right people via our various channels. At events, we can quickly share photos and agendas through the Teams app. The one-to-one chat is especially handy when it comes to draft work and content creation. I love that I can take screenshots and paste them inline into text to coworkers to give context.

5. Meetings

Teams includes a meeting feature with audio and/or video that allows you to share your screen with attendees anywhere. The Team also acts as a hub to store associated prep documents and meeting notes. These meetings can be internal or external, meaning you can create collaborative spaces with clients. Don’t worry — Team owners can manage what resources other members have access to.

The meeting feature is also a really simple way to deliver information to customers in real time. I host a weekly webinar for some of my customers right through the calendar invite. This capability has offloaded an entire workload from the department that organizes more formal webinar events and majorly reduced our time to launch.

These are just a few of the versatile ways that Microsoft Teams has increased productivity and simplified complicated workloads, all while reducing stress and increasing team engagement and collaboration. For those in the works of adopting governance strategies and planning for new technology rollouts, consider these creative ways to use collaboration technology to optimize teamwork and work flow.