Craig Humphrey, Office 365 Development Manager at Enlighten, shared his thoughts on how the modern workplace has changed, Enlighten’s own experience with Microsoft Teams, and best practices for implementing Modern Workplace at your organisation. Here's what he had to say.
How has the modern workplace changed?
A wave of technological advances has completely changed the way we work. Today, many of us work remotely or in the field. We need a way to stay in touch with our supervisors and colleagues, and communication and collaboration should be easy and efficient. Using several solutions to get work done no longer makes sense for today’s employees.
That’s where Microsoft Modern Workplace comes in. Modern Workplace is about making tools as efficient as possible so you don’t have to task-switch. It brings information together.
How is Enlighten using Microsoft tools?
Enlighten uses Microsoft tools, including Teams, both internally and externally. I've been at Enlighten for under a year. In that time, I've noticed an increase in interest from clients in Teams, Microsoft’s solution for chatting, meeting, calling, and collaborating in one place. Teams’ increased popularity has to do with the fact that people want to be able to get their work done quickly and without hassle.
Business users have a job to get done. They say, “Show me the easiest way to get this done. Make my life easier.”’ That sentiment has become stronger and stronger, as everyone has to do more with less.
Enlighten doesn’t just implement Teams for clients; Teams is an integral part of the firm’s processes and workflows. Like many New Zealand firms, Enlighten has employees who work remotely. For instance, I live in Auckland, but I am in Hamilton a few days a week at Enlighten’s office. The rest of the time, I communicate and collaborate with colleagues and clients through Teams.
As an example of how this works, Enlighten has a client located in Dunedin. We use Microsoft Teams to work with this client. The client uploads documents into Teams’ file storage area, and representatives from Enlighten and the client schedule milestones and events through the shared calendar. Teams also simplifies client communication; the chat feature acts as a record of the communication that’s already taken place.
The fact that Enlighten uses Teams internally has made my transition to the firm much smoother. When I started at Enlighten, I was able to review previous and existing Team records to get up to speed. The persistence of information was very useful.
Additionally, Teams offers an advantage over email; it transforms the communication process into a focused, centralised process. Because teams are created based on tasks or clients, there’s far less ‘noise’ about things that don’t matter. Teams is a great way to organise things. You know what the topic is in a team, and there are specific channels to filter information, so you stay focused.
What are some best practices for implementing Modern Workplace?
Modern Workplace (and its components such as Teams and Power Apps) can help you realise your full potential when it’s implemented properly.
My advice is to get your feet wet and start by tackling a small problem. One of the benefits of Modern Workplace is that it covers many different areas, yet it doesn’t require interdependencies to be in place to get the most out of it. For example, one team can use the mobile apps, while another unit experiments with Power Apps. A lot of things can go on at once.
You can even implement solutions from the Modern Workplace suite on a team-by-team basis. I recommend this approach because it allows the IT department to get a sense of how the implementation is going and how Modern Workplace can help the firm across the board.
Power Apps can be a great way to solve small problems. It allows business users to build apps to solve day-to-day problems. For instance, there was one event that was held at a client’s facility in which the majority of the attendees were from the IT department, with one person from a line-of-business unit. After the event, the line-of-business person commented to me, "If we had started using Power Apps earlier, we would be months ahead by now."
Users are experts at their job. They understand their data. They should be empowered to build the tools they need to do their jobs. One of the events Enlighten runs is App in a Day, in which the firm’s staff teach clients how to use Power Apps. App in a Day has empowered business users to create an app in a single day.
I think that one key to success is engagement between IT and business units. That engagement ensures that business users feel as though their wants and needs are being met by new technological solutions. The process of implementing new technology goes smoother when everyone is on board; moreover, you create internal champions who will support the broader implementation of the solution.
Enlighten Designs: Helping Transform the Modern Workplace
Since 1998, Enlighten Designs has helped its clients have amazing digital experiences. Today, that means working efficiently and effectively with the right digital tools. We’re proud Microsoft partners, having achieved Gold status in the categories of Application Development, Data Platform, and Data Analytics. To learn more about our work in transforming the modern workplace, contact us.