Microsoft Teams: the near-future of work (Part 2)

By James Tyas

3 minute read

It’s been a week since our CEO, Marc published his thoughts about how Microsoft Teams could unlock a number of exciting possibilities for workplace learning. After many false dawns, Teams offers a genuine opportunity to place learning directly into the flow of work.

The article has generated a lot of discussion since, and there are encouraging signs that our (admittedly self-selecting) audience are keen to turn the learning in the flow of work dream into a reality. There is a desire to ‘go where the puck is going’ and build learning strategies around Teams.

Responses to our survey so far (which we’re still collecting responses to) indicate that usage of Teams is likely to double over the next two years. Our data shows that 35% of our respondents’ workforces are using Teams right now, and they expect this to reach 77% by 2021. This backs up industry predictions that Teams will reach 41% market penetration by 2020.


Whilst this level of expected growth does align with our initial prediction, it has led us to think about why it isn’t reaching 90% or above. Microsoft Teams has far fewer barriers to entry than other collaboration tools like Slack: 90% of our respondents have access to Office 365 and Teams is included as part of this bundle, at no extra cost!

A conversation with an L&D Manager last week clarified why availability is only one piece of the adoption puzzle. He told us about the difficulties involved in persuading people to change the workflows they’ve grown attached to.

When explaining to his colleagues that Teams offers the functionality of Zoom, Skype and OneDrive all in one integrated system, they politely nodded before returning to deal with their overflowing inboxes.

Even when ‘great’ is eminently possible, we’re often happy to settle for ‘good enough’. This is because the day-to-day challenges of working life make the effort of changing so much more acute in the short term.

Breaking down the barriers to adoption

We’re aware that the successful adoption of any workplace technology involves a concerted effort. If you’d like to drive Teams adoption in your organisation, we’ve come up with some strategies to counter some potential objections:

Barrier 1: “My workforce doesn’t solely consist of knowledge workers”

Solution: Many of the organisations we work with have large first-line workforces. Indeed, Microsoft has estimated there are 2 billion first-line workers worldwide. As such, it’s understandable that there’d be reticence about adopting collaboration tools like Slack that seem solely geared toward knowledge workers.

Microsoft has spotted this enticing opportunity and have integrated a number of powerful features aimed at this audience, such as a Graphs API for Shifts that enables managers to share scheduling data more easily. If you want to lead adoption, building from the front with an audience that has been underserved by enterprise technologies might help fast-track success.

Barrier 2: “If people don’t understand it straight away, they’ll revert to their old workflow”

Solution: Admittedly, this is a tricky one. It requires people to get their heads around a new system and say goodbye to their old ways of working. But again, Microsoft Teams has an inherent advantage: it aligns with the overall design of the Windows operating system and is built around a chat interface. This offers a level of familiarity to many users, making it much easier to get up to speed with Teams quickly. 

That said, Microsoft isn’t taking a ‘build it and they will come’ approach, and understand that adoption of Teams isn’t a given. As a result, Microsoft are supporting organisations in planning and implementing low-cost change campaigns that drive adoption. Support can be found in the Teams Toolkit and on the Teams Adoption Hub

Another remedy that might fly under the radar is simply making sure everyone in your organisation is up to speed on what Teams does and how to use it. People are more likely to stick with Teams if they're not learning how to use it as they go along.

Barrier 3: “I’ll only use it if my peers do too”

Solution: It’s obvious that for usage of a collaboration tool like Teams to spread throughout an organisation, there needs to be a critical mass of people engaging with it as a starting point. In some organisations, it’s possible that adoption of both learning and Teams is low.

That’s why experimenting with integrating a next-gen learning tool into Teams could supercharge an engagement on two fronts.

This is a strategy we’re exploring with some of our clients. We’re targeting high-influence audiences by integrating a project-oriented instance of Filtered into Teams. The aim is to augment existing efforts and raise engagement with both learning and Teams.


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