Collaboration, Digitization

Virtual Teamwork Needs Rules

Bernhard Rastorfer09/21/2020

Collaboration in the digital space works even without collaboration tools. But it’s only through using solutions like Microsoft Teams that work groups ensure they “team up” more efficiently—always provided that the tool is optimally integrated into existing business processes. A few sensible guidelines help maintain transparency and to work efficiently long-term in the New Normal. 

Collaborative solutions do not necessarily result in more transparency. All this means is that every user can create any number of teams in Microsoft Teams. These teams are then only visible to employees who are invited to join the virtual work group. So, in fact, this can lead to there being several teams on the same topic. Guidelines will help prevent this. 

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It Does Not Always Have to Be Teams

A temporary group chat is sufficient for ad-hoc meetings that require little time. This does not take up additional memory and automatically moves down the chat history over time. Logs and files are retained and can be shared again if necessary. 

Teams Maintain a Clear View

Teams are primarily intended for long-term, more extensive cooperation—in projects, for example. They can be structured differently depending on the objectives. At COSMO CONSULT, we recommend that you first set up three basic templates, which can be extended if necessary:

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Organization Teams

  • Participants: internal departmental employees
  • Characteristics: channels are set up for individual departmental subsections and can be public or private 
  • Setup: IT Department
  • Process guidelines & archiving: none
  • Disadvantages: organizationally very limited, little interaction between departments

Project Teams

  • Participants: internal and external employees
  • Characteristic: each sub-project has its own private channel
  • Setup: Employees
  • Process guidelines & archiving: 360 days, archiving after project completion
  • Disadvantages: limited to 30 sub-projects

Collaboration Teams

  • Participants: internal employees working on interdisciplinary topics 
  • Characteristic: single communication channel
  • Setup: Employees
  • Process guidelines & archiving: 180 days, thereafter deleted
  • Disadvantages: increasing number of teams

Such process guidelines ensure that transparency is maintained and that neither redundant nor orphaned teams are created.

Approvals for New Teams Make Sense

In principle, no employee should be able to create a team without approval. This is the only way to avoid uncontrolled growth, which ultimately reduces the productivity gained from the tool. Automatic workflows using Microsoft Power Automate help reduce the effort by providing suitable templates or by referring to the group chat option.

The Right Name for the Team

Microsoft does not make any specifications for team names. This is flexible, but there is the danger of it quickly becoming confusing. Misunderstandings and duplication can be avoided using structural aids such as prefixes or length restrictions.

Teams Also Have a Life Cycle

Experience has shown that it makes sense to put an expiration date on teams. Usage time is usually quite limited for project or collaboration teams in particular. In addition, storage space is limited in the cloud. With a well-thought-out concept, they will not reach their limits so quickly.

Conclusion

It is often the small things that can hinder Microsoft Teams’ efficiency in the long term. The effects are hardly noticeable in the beginning; at some point, though, it becomes confusing. In the end, user acceptance may also suffer as a result. So it is better to ensure order and transparency with clear rules and structures right from the start.

In addition to clear guidelines, team leadership is another important aspect in successful digital team management. Do you want to know more about this? 
Then our webinar "Why It Is Not Enough to Install Microsoft Teams" on October 1, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. is just the introduction you need. Here you will learn in three steps how to keep your team on board and create organizational and communication structures. Our continuation webinar "How to Lead Your Teams Innovatively and Digitally in the Age of New Work" on October 22, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. will focus on digital team management and agile project work. 

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A little tip: Take part in our latest survey on digital team management and benefit by incorporating the latest findings in your digital strategy. As a thank you, you can take part in our prize draw for the Modern Workplace Inspiration and Digital Team Management Inspiration workshops valued at €990 and €490 respectively.  

Of course, we are always available to you for a personal discussion. Just send us an email or give us a call. Our digitalization experts look forward to discussing your digital ideas with you. 

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Author:
Bernhard Rastorfer
Operations Manager Modern Workplace Solutions