With MS Office 365 to the Digital Workplace: How the new office suite promotes collaborative working

Creating a digital workplace with Microsoft Office 365

Collaboration and virtual cooperation are part of everyday working life in our globally networked world. However, the tool landscapes of many companies still frequently resemble an aging patchwork quilt. It’s just as well, then, that switching to MS Office 365 can help sort this out.

Companies are active around the world. Their staff work at different sites, or they travel from one customer to the next. That’s the everyday working reality for many employees – including myself and my co-workers. As a result, virtual forms of cooperation have long become part of our working lives. Till now, though, there was nothing elegant about these solutions.

We sent documents by email, called co-workers using Skype for Business and sent short messages via Yammer. When I was in the office, I saved my data to the server so that an up-to-date version was stored there – temporarily, at least. But woe betide the co-worker who accidentally saved something over the new version ...

With Office 365, Microsoft has finally brought an alternative to this patchwork of applications onto the market. What’s special about it is that, more than any of the previous updates, the new Office suite focuses on employee collaboration and combines functions that could previously only be achieved through a combination of tools. This brings the digital workplace within touching distance – and almost effortlessly, at that.

Microsoft Teams as a central point of contact

MS Teams is Microsoft’s answer to the question of how staff can work together in a contemporary way. This app has become the heart of collaboration in our company, too – both within and across departments and divisions.

MS Teams enables me to set up projects and schedule appointments, assign tasks to staff members, and work with them together on files, forward links, arrange meetings, hold video conferences, or quickly chat with another member of the team. Even if none of these applications is revolutionary in its own right, now they are all gathered together in a single piece of software with intuitive operation. For us, that is the key advantage.

What’s more, we have connected MS Teams to OneDrive and Outlook across the organization. This makes everyday working a whole lot easier. Let’s be honest, is anyone actually pining after the old versions or overflowing in-boxes?

For more structure and greater productivity

To a great extent, MS Office 365 has replaced our tool landscape that had grown over the years, and now we’ve got used to the new way of working, we find it has boosted our productivity significantly.

It is also clear that this kind of switch can’t happen in a vacuum. For example, we organized an internal workshop before the switch where we clarified the key structural questions: Which tools are we using now, and for what? How are we intending to organize file storage in the future? How do we organize ourselves as a team? Etc.

In addition, the management team provided all members of staff with a guideline that sketches out examples of how the means of communication will be used in the future. We are, for instance, continuing to use Outlook for one-to-one communication with customers. Internally, we will now communicate exclusively via Teams, unless the co-worker in question is sitting in the office next door, in which case I will grab my mug of coffee and sit down for a quick chat.

We would do it again

Several studies back up the favorable gut feeling we have about digital collaboration. For example, Statista estimates that the torrent of emails in Germany increased more than twentyfold between 2000 and 2018. It’s a good thing, then, that we are no longer adding to that with our internal communications and instead use chat apps – just like 61 percent of SMEs and 70 percent of major companies (see Spiceworks). So when will you make the switch?