5 reasons why we choose Teams over other messengers

Author: Arkady Zolotovitsky (Business Development Director SystemZ)

A month and a half ago, the country went into quarantine everywhere. Many companies have been forced to relocate their employees to remote work. Someone, like us, managed to do this in 2-3 days. Some companies, having switched to remote work, are still looking for optimal solutions to achieve the same productivity.

A huge number of articles have been written on the topic of productivity, many webinars are held every day, so in this article I would like to focus on personal productivity when working remotely and the tools that allow you to achieve this. Indeed, it is from the effective work of each employee that the effectiveness of the team and the company as a whole is formed.

In the IT industry, remote work is quite common, and with a large number of business trips and distributed teams, this is the way of our professional work. At the end of 2018, we began to actively work on improving team effectiveness. At that time, some of the teams used the free version of Slack. Opinions on its convenience varied, but the main thing is that we started to run into existing restrictions. As Microsoft partners, we, of course, paid attention to the Teams available to us and then began to implement it.

It will be possible to write a separate article about how the implementation of Teams took place and is happening. In this article, I want to talk about why Teams allows me and my team members to be productive and how, by moving to remote work everywhere, we work at the same pace, and perhaps even better.

Here are my top 5 reasons for using Teams:

1. Availability of colleagues

We have over 130 employees in our company. At the same time, about 20 people were added to my phone contacts. These are the people I called most often. But in the course of my work, I have to communicate with many more people. Often, if I had any questions, I could just go to the person in the office and get an answer promptly. When working remotely, this became physically impossible. The first question is where to write to a colleague? Do I have his contact on my phone? You start looking. Write SMS, Viber, WhatsApp? What messenger is he using? Skype? What's his nickname? Write to mail - may not respond promptly. Call? But you need to record the information received. And moreover, it may be necessary to return to it.

What did Teams give me? I have contacts of all employees by their names. In one click, I can start a correspondence and, moreover, if I already had a correspondence with a certain person, I will immediately see it. I see a person on the spot or not, and I understand how quickly I can get an answer. I can also focus attention on my question, increasing its criticality, or attract the attention of the interlocutor by mentioning it.

2. Quick search for information

Having all communications in one place, the ability to store, share and work with files in Teams makes it possible to quickly find almost any information in one click. Through a single search window, you can find messages with the desired text, files, contacts of people. There is no need to remember in which messenger, chat, team or channel the communication was. This feature allows you to save tens of minutes a day. And, most importantly, do not distract other colleagues with repeated questions or clarifications of where what is. In this way, a collective effect is achieved.

3. Focus on work

Many of you know that the more we switch our attention between interfaces, systems and tasks, the faster we get tired and the less things we have time to do. There is a theory that it takes 10 minutes to concentrate, some say about 20. But the main thing is that switching between systems and interfaces is the enemy of performance.

When my working communications were in different messengers, I had to constantly switch. Moreover, they had to be distracted by viewing messages, even if they were not working. It was impossible to turn off notifications, since you can miss something important at work. Not to answer a particular question after reading it is somehow not polite. In general, using private messengers for work issues reduced my productivity by 15-20%.

The translation of all work communications into one tool - Teams - allowed us to minimize distraction on private issues during the day. And given the fact that all types of communications (correspondence, calls, work with documents, etc.) take place in one interface, the number of switches has become minimal and the time for focused work has become significantly longer.

It is worth mentioning here that, of course, the entire flow of working information from different messengers went to Teams. Therefore, for high concentration, it is important to fine-tune the notification modes in Teams. And he presents a huge number of opportunities. You can also write a separate article about this.

4. Work-life balance

I already wrote above that one of the key points associated with changes when working remotely is the thin line between work and non-work hours. The lack of this balance can significantly affect mental health, motivation, productivity and lead to burnout. This is especially critical at first. Many people get the impression that they are constantly at work, as they write to them at any time and expect a prompt response. And without changing the environment, you seem to be at work.

There are many recommendations on how to avoid this with certain rituals. It is recommended to take a walk as soon as you think that working hours are over. Move to another location in the apartment, leaving your laptop. But while observing self-isolation in not the most luxurious apartment conditions, such rituals are not always realizable.

Therefore, one of the ways to switch from active working hours to non-working hours can be switching communication channels. In this case, having one collaboration tool allows you to do it quickly. You can simply switch the notification mode at a certain time to silent or hidden, so you yourself will determine the need to immerse yourself in work issues, and not respond to every phone sound or vibration. At the same time, not working channels (messengers, social networks), on the contrary, after a working day, turn on push notifications so that you can quickly respond. If the main working communications go to Teams, then messengers will have a minimum of work, which will allow you to rebuild and get your own time.

5. Security and privacy

One of our customers had a lot of communication between people in WhatsApp team chats. Colleagues channelized the streams well, so there were a lot of chats. So people understood where to write about what and where to quickly find the information they need. It was conceived perfectly and worked quite efficiently.

But one day one of the colleagues saw that in a number of chats there was an employee who had left the company long ago and was working in a competing structure. History is silent about the consequences of the fact that competitors read internal correspondence and how information security officers reacted to it, but it is clear that such situations should not exist.

This just isn't possible in Teams. A dismissed employee is automatically removed from all private conversations, teams and channels. He is automatically denied access to Teams and documents. At the same time, all the convenience of separating by communication channels and organizing group chats and interactions is fully preserved.

Also, all files are within the control perimeter of your organization and under a clear separation of access. In addition, using additional applications (for example, our AntiSpy solution) in Teams, you can send logins and passwords in encrypted form. This information will also not go beyond the controlled contour of your organization.

The above arguments are definitely not complete in order to understand why I choose Teams over other messengers or tools. I did not describe the possibility of providing a single window when working in teams, I did not talk about the use of chat bots for a large number of scenarios for process automation and self-service, about the great possibilities of video calls, presentations, broadcasts to thousands of employees.

I am sure that everyone will find a large number of arguments for ... the main thing is to start working in a new way. Rebuild yourself, build new communication processes, and then your remote work efficiency will be maximized, and to the question “are you ready to work regularly from home after the end of self-isolation”, you will answer “yes”, as did 94% of our employees, according to the survey after two weeks of work from home.