Start ’em young…

This image has been making the rounds of the Interwebs lately, and ofc I got a chuckle out of it — at Microsoft I’m regularly spending 10+ hours a day in meetings, and while not perhaps “soul-crushing,” one can’t help but think “there must be a better way…”

I hope the playset includes the mandatory 15 minutes of technical set up as people attempt to connect their computers; dial into the meeting; get off mute; work through the echo; and the inevitable hilarity which kicks off nearly every meeting these days.

But the fact that this simple image resonates so loudly should force us to ask a bigger question: Why are we willing to subject ourselves to soul-crushing meetings in the first place?

I believe there is hope … new collaboration tools are making it easier for us to work together without necessarily having to be in the same room or on a call together. I’ve had an interesting experience with a new product from Microsoft which has dramatically reduced the amount of soul-crushing time in meetings (now, how to find a way to reduce the white-knuckle time!)

My CMO team and I were early adopters of Microsoft Teams — about 18 months ago when it was still in internal Beta. It operates as a hub for teamwork in Office 365, and at its most rudimentary level think of it as a UI which joins the disparate parts of Office, such as SharePoint; OneNote; Power BI; and Yammer … which until Teams came along all had to be accessed separately and all had unique file directories. It was a challenge to find and collect information — the passive aggressive way to tell someone to leave off inside Microsoft is that when they ask you for a file, you say: “…it’s on the SharePoint,” knowing full well that they will NEVER be able to find a single file that way.

The brilliance of Teams is that it connects everything around the construct of a project or any other logical organizing principle, so that everything which has to do with that project is accessible across multiple databases to everyone on the team. It also enables real-time editing without “checking out” files … it’s a true modern collaboration tool.

Some folks are calling it “Slack + Google Hangouts” and while that’s not wrong, it’s much more than that because it organizes everything in Office 365 — it takes *everything* you’re working on and puts it together. It’s particularly good for sales teams who need to organize all their documents around a customer.

One other little-known fact — the Skype for Business client within Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based next gen product, and is significantly more stable, louder, and easier to use than the old Skype for Business on-prem product. So, even if you do have to have a meeting, you get online faster, things work more smoothly, and it’s easier to visually connect with the participants. It’s a switch worth making.

@Microsoft @MicrosoftTeams #collaboration #modernworkplace

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