Technology is changing the way we work. No big news there, but the way it changes us is different now. Tech is no longer just a tool that we use, or an application that slots into the way we operate. Now the technologies and systems that we use day-to-day define our working ecosystems. They shape how, where and when we can work.  

Microsoft Teams played a big part in defining the way people work over the last year, adopted quickly by almost 70 million new daily users, doubling the frequent usage over 12 months. This was ‘adoption by crisis’ as the pivotal Microsoft 365 tool was welcomed as a lifeline for people needing workplace connections while they were asked to work from home.  

But with users returning to the office, or shifting to a new hybrid working pattern, how do we ensure that the Microsoft 365 tools we adopted out of necessity – or even those we have had for some time – continue to provide value? How can we help the technology to create the kind of working environments where our teams can thrive and grow? 

It’s important to remember that ‘user adoption is a journey, not an end destination’ and, according to Megan Strant, Adoption & Organisational Change Manager for the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, to deliver a successful adoption of Microsoft 365, our ‘leaders have to be passionate about a digital workplace’.  

So how do you ensure that your journey is heading in the right direction? 

First, look at the needs and attitudes of people within your organisation, as understanding the culture, the goals of the business and the current working environment is essential before creating any user adoption roadmap. For example, if you have had Microsoft 365 for some time but are not using or fully appreciating the value of the products you own, it’s worth stepping back and asking why. It’s possible – particularly if the platform was adopted in a hurry – that communication wasn’t prioritised, training was missed or knowledge wasn’t shared when tools were released.  

Next, understand that – actually – training alone isn’t enough for the breadth of positive impact you can gain from Microsoft 365. Take Microsoft Teams, the hub of your collaboration and communication. To get the best value from Teams – and unlock the benefits of digital collaboration across your working model – users need to understand not just how to use it but also why.  With an understanding of the value of the tool – for example, how it might help make the employees day easier, speed up decision making, and provide an invaluable audit trail of collaborative thinking – employees are far more likely to use it, and use it properly.  

With Microsoft Teams introduced, adoption focus can move to giving staff the chance to explore applications and features such as OneNote (for digital note taking), OneDrive (cloud storage for personal files) and collaboration tools Planner and Forms. You could even reintroduce long standing tools such as Outlook and Office and ask users to explore them in the context of the new ecosystem, the new way of working.  

Throughout the change management process, you will need to have key stakeholders bought in and working for you with positive intent. These champions – who are likely to be in communications, training and leadership roles – are the internal comms teams who will create positive stories around the technologies, resource managers who will release the staff for training, and the influencers who will model good behaviours. These influencers should be engaged early and often. They should be listened to for feedback on the adoption process and you should work with them to identify issues and find new ways to tackle any problems.  

Finally, you need to measure the success and impact of the change. Your ROI on a Microsoft 365 adoption is going to be hard to measure in monetary terms at first, but you will quickly be able to look at employee engagement and the visible measurements around staff retention and turnover. From this you should be able to correlate an influence on the bottom line but, bear in mind,  it’s the people impact that will make the biggest difference to your organisation. 

As Strant says ‘If people have great tools and a strong foundation, with the tools removing barriers and making the day-to-day job easier, then they are simply happier at work.’ 

5 steps to a happy transition to Microsoft 365   

  1. Resources You will need the right people, time and money invested in the change from the outset. Good change management takes effort and investment across the organisation, from leadership to subject matter experts.
  2. Communications – Plan and execute your communication campaign with all the vigour and commitment of an external marketing campaign. Engage your employees with creative and impactful messages, and make sure to align your messaging to the company strategy so that everyone can understand the part they play in the change and how they can benefit from it.

  3. Go deep with individuals – Rather than running one way training sessions, make your education interactive. Run workshops to allow trainers to gather feedback on the tools, and work with individuals who have specific challenges that M365 can address.

  4. Measure – Measure as you go – the effectiveness of a training session, or the adoption of the tools – and employ the tools you have to help you. Microsoft Analytics, Microsoft Viva Insights and Microsoft 365 usage analytics within Power BI will all give you powerful data points to track engagements with the platform, including how people are using it, when and for what.

  5. Never stop – Your technology ecosystem will continue to evolve with your business and your M365 suite will expand as new tools are developed and released. Never stop returning to your change management plan to engage, communicate and measure the changes across your change champions.  

By acknowledging that the Microsoft 365 platform is not just a tool, or set of tools, that sit next to the way you work but can actually help define the way that you work, you will find it easier to dedicate resources and remain committed to continually championing and educating about the value of the tools.  

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