A light-hearted look at the ways Microsoft Teams has enabled business and transformed ways of working this year

At the start of 2020, you most likely had a carefully considered roadmap for your digital transformation. Fast forward less than three months and that future vision suddenly accelerated towards you at the speed light.

The Coronavirus forced the digital revolution to pick up pace more so than any other economical, technological, or cultural driver. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said back in April that “we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months”. That was eight months ago, and there’s been a lot of fast and furious evolution since then.

There’s no denying that it has been a challenging year for nearly all of us. But despite all the uncertainty, the hurdles and the defeats encountered throughout 2020, many organisations have fortunately adapted. We’ve seen a phenomenal display of resilience, agility and the willingness to embrace digital transformation as one of the key enabler’s to business continuity and success.

Absolutely pivotal to that rapid transformation is SaaS and specifically, Microsoft Teams. No other product has grown so quickly in Microsoft’s history, amassing a whopping 115m daily users. Teams stepped up to the mark. It enabled employees to use their own devices from home, connected colleagues and partners anywhere in the world, inspired creativity and seamless collaboration. And, most importantly, it evolved to meet our needs.

As avid Teams users and early adopters, we might be biased, but we believe Microsoft Teams enabled the remote working world in 2020.

So as somewhat of a tribute to Teams for Christmas time, we look at 12 light-hearted ways Microsoft Teams changed the modern workplace this year.

12 ways Microsoft Teams changed the modern workplace in 2020

1. GIFs are now mandatory acceptable in the workplace

It’s 2020 and emotions are high. What better way to express yourself than through the medium of the GIF? Also why send an email when you can share an image of a solemn looking cat to express your distaste at your manager’s latest request? We love the blend of sociable and secure features in Teams Chat.

2. Wear what you want to work (from the waist down)

Remember when you used to dream of working from home in your PJs? Now you can do just that. Of course, productivity specialists will tell you to dress the part to act the part, but I think most people have embraced the relaxed dress code. However, with Teams video now the de facto meeting mode, it pays to look sharp from the waist up at least.

3. Present from the beach or the boardroom with simulated backgrounds

An amazing video feature in Teams is the ability to change your background. From simply blurring out the noise (aka mess) to uploading a different backdrop entirely. You can transport yourself somewhere more inspiring than your garage. Together Mode even has simulated backdrops for whole groups. Choose from an auditorium or coffee shop and keep your meetings fresh.

4. Tagging is the new read receipt – I see you

The phrase ‘sorry I didn’t see your email’ is now an unacceptable excuse. You can @ tag your colleagues anywhere and everywhere in Teams to make sure they get the memo. And Teams Chat, like WhatsApp, let’s you know when the message is read. There’s no hiding, but use appropriately and be careful you’re not harassing anyone. The phone also still works.

5. Real-time collaboration that actually works

A common misconception before the pandemic was that people need to be together physically to collaborate. Microsoft Teams has enabled collaboration across departments, platforms and even across organisations. From basics like screen and document sharing to brainstorming via virtual whiteboards.

“Teams has revolutionised the way we do business and we won’t be going back to the ways of working we had before. This has proven the ability to work remotely for all staff, not just the IT teams.” Chris Lomas, Director of IT at Foundation Home Loans

6. Easily invite external stakeholders to the party

You can extend your collaboration with people outside of your organisation and don’t need to worry about access control. It’s easy to determine what is shared to protect your valuable data and content.

7. You can (figuratively) ask colleagues to ‘talk to the hand’

Not literally of course. My Analytics has helped put much needed emphasis on creating space to be productive with the ability to automatically schedule ‘focus time’ and set your status message to do not disturb. That means no more booking fake meetings in your diary just to get some thinking time.

8. Don’t miss out, catch-up on-demand

Don’t have time to join the full meeting, too busy multi-tasking or simply weren’t listening? Thankfully, you can record meetings in Microsoft Teams. Some new functionality will also provide the meeting host with an automatic transcription so you can flick through the meeting notes when you have more time.

9. Desk phones are a thing of the past

We are mobile. With Teams for telephony you can reroute calls to your desktop or your mobile device. Outdoors time has become a savoured and precious necessity in 2020, so being able to take calls on the go for a walk and talk is a welcome evolution in the way we work.

10. Join a conversation regardless of language 

Organisations now work on an increasingly global scale, especially when doing business online. Teams inline message translation allows people from all around the world to chat more easily by translating chat messages into English or the language of choice. It’s a simple way to network and stay connected to colleagues globally.

11. ‘You’re on mute’ became the most said line of 2020

That and ‘what time is the announcement today?’. But yes, we have all had those frustrating moments when we’ve introduced ourselves or contributed something considered and poignant in a video meeting, only to be told that no one heard. It’s never the same the second time round.

12. We’re finally trusted to work from home

“Microsoft Teams has changed how people work forever. There was a consensus before that employees couldn’t be trusted to work from home, but Covid-19 has shown that people can work effectively from home.” A little quote from our Principal Consultant for Microsoft 365, Paul Hunt. Yes it’s true, we’ve proved that we can do it – individually, collectively, indefinitely.

We hope you have enjoyed this look back at the way our working lives have changed this year thanks in large part to Microsoft Teams. If you have any experiences you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them. Comment on our social accounts or email [email protected]

2021 is coming

By Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast