Tips to Maximize Productivity in Teams and Evaluate Engagement with M365 Analytics

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The influx of remote work has drawn more companies to Microsoft’s ever-evolving platform Microsoft 365 (which includes Teams, Office, OneDrive, Planner, SharePoint, etc.) Over the course of 2020, Microsoft has been improving its collaborative offerings. Extended Teams capabilities now include break out rooms and Together Mode, a feature designed for virtual meetings that allows participants to “sit” beside each other.  

Microsoft’s investment in Teams innovation is paying off. During an earnings call with investors, “Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed Microsoft Teams now has 115 million daily active users. That’s a more than 50 percent rise from the 75 million that Microsoft reported almost six months ago.” 


They’re Using Microsoft 365 and Teams – But Are They Engaged?

Microsoft released that Microsoft 365 (M365) “users generated more than 30 billion collaboration minutes in a single day last quarter.”  This shows that users are online in the M365 space, but are they productive and engaged, and are they using the tool to its full potential?

The Teams Day Online Summit in November addressed this issue with speakers providing tips and tricks for maximizing employee wellness, productivity and engagement. Experts also discussed and demonstrated solutions that help you automate and report on Teams user adoption in the enterprise.  

One of those speakers was Peter Carson, President of Extranet User Manager. Peter talked about capturing and evaluating Teams in Microsoft 365 analytics. What follows are some key takeaways from his session.

 

The Maturing of Your Information Architecture

Effectively using Teams starts with evaluating how people currently communicate in your organization. Typically, people are very email-centric and have been for years. This Teams' world is, for many people, a new world that they've been thrown into since last winter when COVID-19 struck. 

Maybe SMS text messaging is already part of the organizational culture, or perhaps you've transitioned to Teams, but only at the individual chat level. Maybe you haven't evolved that into formalizing your information architecture, or deciding how your teams, channels and conversations are organized.

We see this as a hierarchy of maturity, starting with the baseline email users and developing more mature channel conversations within Teams. Ideally, you want your team to communicate using channels. You want to encourage behaviour and create patterns from there. 

Using Teams effectively keeps the information centralized, avoids the use of shadow IT, offers the opportunity for great analytics, and builds a living hub of collaboration and innovation. One of the things that we see in play with analytics is this idea of “working out loud.” Working out loud is good for obtaining data, and it’s good for innovation, communication, and collaboration.

 

Working Out Loud

Moving people all the way down the maturity hierarchy to the channel conversation level democratizes information. Even though a user may have “@ mentioned” a couple of people that are pertinent to a conversation, it is still visible to the broader team.  

The concept of working out loud is about refusing to lock all that knowledge up in private email conversations or private individual or group chats, and instead make it available to the broader organization.  

That doesn't have to mean the whole organization. It can mean the context of one team, such as your senior leadership team or management team. Not everybody needs to be alerted to the post, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to know about that conversation. 

And this becomes important, particularly as you get to things such as running projects in your organization and cross-functional teams. Those teams tend not to be static. If you've got a long-term live project, people are going to go out and new people are going to come in.  

A channel conversation becomes a historical record. And as new team members join, they're not facing a blank inbox and no past knowledge of what's been going on with the project. They're able to see and search that conversational history.

 

Peter’s 5 Rules of Teams Engagement to Enable Working Out Loud  

#1 Your activity feed in Teams becomes your new inbox

The place where you want to start and end your day, your activity feed is where all the action takes place, and it can get a bit out of control. That’s why you need to:

#2 Set parameters around chat, conversations and reactions

Really that means creating standard practices that the entire team understands and uses. For instance, using @ and “likes” to great effect (see below).

#3 @ mention to draw awareness

Tag or @ mention team members or channels so that those individuals see that message in their activity feed.

#4 Acknowledgements are the Microsoft Teams read receipt

The 'like' response is great for when you've been @ mentioned on a Teams message. That indicates that I've seen your message, but I haven't necessarily taken action on it. For example, if I get a message from a staff member saying, "Hey, I'd like to take the next six months off on paid vacation." I can like that to say, "Hey, I've noticed that," but it doesn't mean that you're approved and I'll see you in six months’ time.”  

#5 Teams is the launchpad for all your M365 applications

So many applications integrate with Teams now that making Teams your launchpad for M365, as well as additional applications, is easy. People have different apps running all at the same time and are constantly switching between them. The more that you can make Teams your home base, the better for ease of navigation.  

 

Dive into Data with M365   

Once your team is using Teams effectively, there is a wealth of information that you can obtain, such as a productivity score. It's very interesting to see how you rate as an organization, and what you can do to move that score up, or how your company compares to other similarly sized companies.

You can see how your company is using M365 and when people are working. If work/life balance is part of your corporate culture, then you want to see zero usage on weekends. If you don’t see that, then there is clearly a disconnect between your corporate goals and reality.  

Seeing who is using which activities across your organization helps with operation. For example, how much email activity happens, sent and received, versus Teams activity? How do channel messages compare to chat messages?


Go Deeper with Power BI

Then, take your data to the next level by deploying a Power BI connector into your environment. This will start to pull in that analytics data. Out-of-the-box (OOTB) Power BI reporting gives you:

  • information on adoption   
  • percentage of users  
  • usage  
  • mobility  
  • who is using it through the web, on mobile devices
  • what that looks like across the different product workloads

From there, you can drill down into Exchange, SharePoint and Teams. There is a great deal of information to be had – it can help smooth out operations and inform you about employee wellness, engagement and training needs.  

If you want to really dive into the data depths, you can customize your Power BI. In the recording of his session, Peter goes into detail about the OOTB M365 and Power BI analytics tools available and extends that with customization options, so you can pull out exactly the information that you want.

You can find the full recording here.  


References