The Secret to Optimizing Your Team’s Collaboration, In and Out of the Office

The way we work is changing, and becoming increasing more collaborative. Managers and employees have increased their time spent on teamwork by at least 50 percent over the last two decades. Up to 80 percent of workers’ time is spent on collaborative activities like meetings, calls, and responding to email1. And an environment that doesn’t encourage teamwork, or accommodate working remotely, have been cited as key factors in employee attrition2.

  0

For General Electric, small improvements in the efficiency and performance of its products have provided massive value to its customers. The company aims to achieve similar efficiencies with its 300,000-person workforce by making their daily activities frictionless.

“Our workers used to find digital productivity tools on their own, but those tools didn’t work together, they weren’t secure, and they were expensive to support,” says Jeff Monaco, Chief Technology Officer, Digital Workplace at GE.

Like GE, many companies are looking for technology that solves their employees’ growing communication and collaboration needs while being interoperable, secure, and easy to use.

For the first time in human history, there are five generations in the workforce, each with different approaches to getting things done. They are increasingly diverse and mobile, working across multiple locations—often spanning time zones—and multiple devices throughout the workday. As such, a new culture of work is emerging.

“We have multiple generations at GE, from baby boomers to millennials, and they all have preferred ways of working,” says Monaco.

“With mobile access to Teams and needed documents, [groups that need to move rapidly] can attain a velocity that would be impossible with conventional workplace tools,” says James Fowler, Chief Information Officer at GE.

Similarly, things happen fast at Hendrick Motorsports—and the teamwork required to field winning cars for this premier stock car racing organization is no exception.

“It’s too noisy to talk during the race, so we use Microsoft Teams in the pit as our direct line of communication,” says Tom Gray, #24 Team Engineer at Hendrick Motorsports. “I share graphs and data and chat quickly with Travis to say, ‘Hey, can we add this much fuel in this many seconds?’ That’s where the power of Teams comes in—keeping the conversation focused and immediate.”

“Sometimes we use emoji and GIFs to add levity to the situation, but it’s the real-time data analysis and discussion that help us make the decisions that give us an advantage on the track.”

With 56% of enterprises and 66% of small and medium organizations planning to implement or upgrade to a unified communication and collaboration solution3, understanding how to resolve the three most common barriers to teamwork can help illustrate how teamwork tools can help your organization.

Challenge #1: One Team, too many disparate tools: Projects require team members to quickly figure out how and where the team will communicate and share files, how they’ll plan and track progress, and who will grant and manage access to shared assets over the project’s life span. When one person holds the keys to a disparate set of tools that everyone needs to get work done, team members can get left out of the loop.

Solution: A Shared hub for Teamwork. With Microsoft Teams, team members have access to a shared hub where they can find everything they need to be more productive—in one secure location. They can also connect with teammates inside and outside the organization to work on the core project. Group or private chat can help team members quickly connect with decision makers; they can set up an online meeting where they coauthor and share files to secure immediate approval.

Challenge #2: Inefficient virtual meetings: Meeting inefficiencies not only discourage team members from working together, but also present an unacceptable barrier for a workforce that’s increasingly remote and on the go. Someone gets stuck trying to log in, or another team member can’t access a shared screen or see a key piece of content. Meetings are routinely interrupted and delayed by these disruptions.

Solution: Reliable online meetings with screen sharing on any device. With Teams, your employees can communicate via shared screens, messaging, voice calling, and video. They’re free to work from anywhere, on their desktops or mobile devices. With everything on one platform, workers can worry less about technology complications and focus more on getting things done.

Challenge #3: Lack of version control: Often, it’s the feedback and revision process on presentation and shared documents that proves the most painful. Using email to share files for the team to review can be inefficient, with multiple edited versions of the same document that may have conflicting feedback and changes. After several revision rounds, it might not even be clear which document is the final version.

Solution: Secure, cloud-based file collaboration. Cloud-based tools from Microsoft working with Word, PowerPoint, or Excel allow you to easily coauthor in real time with the rest of the team in a single version of the file saved to the cloud, empowering workers to collaborate efficiently across mobile devices, the web, or desktops. You can easily store and share your files in Microsoft Teams, working from one central file that’s accessible to everyone, and up-to-date.

“We always want to enhance collaboration across the organization to find out how we can win more championships and drive the business forward,” says Matthew Cochran, Manager of Information Technologies at Hendrick Motorsports.

“With Microsoft Teams, people can easily spin up a collaboration workspace and accelerate decision making—without going to IT. In fact, we’ve made Microsoft Teams a critical part of our digital transformation, which includes investing in Microsoft technologies such as Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure to be more agile and competitive,” says Cochran.

Learn how you can get started with unified communication and collaboration solution for your organization.


1 “Collaborative Overload,” Harvard Business Review, 2016.
2 Global Generations: A Global Study on Work-Life Challenges Across Generations, Ernst & Young, 2015.
3 Unified Communications & Collaboration Study, IDG Enterprise Marketing, 2015.