It’s No Horror Show: Successful Adoption of Teams Requires a Strategic Approach

Change will nearly always be accompanied by resistance—especially change that’s mandated, as it often will be with Microsoft Teams. One form of resistance is the “X Reasons to Avoid…” type, which usually details the “horrors” of an application from the perspective of someone who has an above-average understanding of workplace technology. While that kind of criticism can be valuable, it does very little to help organizations looking to increase user adoption of the technology.

For this blog post, we look at three aspects of Teams that could be perceived as challenging and explore ways organizations can approach them:


Bleeps, blips, buzzes, pings, pop-ups, banners, and app badges—digital distractions in the workplace are ubiquitous, difficult to ignore, and detrimental to productivity. A recent Udemy study suggests that distractions can also have an emotional toll, causing stress, frustration, lack of motivation, and disengagement.

Microsoft Teams includes more than a dozen different types of notifications—which can significantly affect productivity and adoption if users do not customize them from the get-go. To knock down this barrier, be sure to cover notifications early and thoroughly in your Teams adoption plan. Ensure users know how to manage notifications, where to find the settings, and why it’s important.

Unfamiliar file structure

There are numerous ways to communicate within Teams—and, as a result, numerous types of data being shared. Among them: Chat and file-sharing within a channel, chat and file-sharing one-on-one and internally, chat and file-sharing one-on-one and externally, meeting recordings, meeting chat, files shared during meetings, voicemail, and more.

The way Teams stores the data is quite different from what users are accustomed to. For example:

  • In Skype for Business, meeting recordings were stored locally by default (Videos | Lync Recordings). In Teams, they’re stored in Microsoft Stream. How employees access each recording depends on whether they were the meeting organizer or a participant.
  • Voicemail recordings and transcriptions are saved in users’ mailboxes.
  • Group and channel chat are stored in the Office 365 Exchange Team mailbox.
  • But one-on-one chat is stored in a hidden folder in each participant’s Office 365 Exchange mailbox.
  • Files shared in one-on-one chat end up in OneDrive.
  • Files shared in channel chat go to the SharePoint Team Site Shared Document Library.

This structure may seem like madness without a method, but it’s not. First, channel and group chat in Teams are persistent, meaning the messages are saved over time and are not deleted. Most users will not even need to leave Teams to find files and messages.

Second, Teams isn’t a separate app—rather, it’s a platform that enables users to access many apps in one single place. Where data is stored is not as important as how easily users can access it within Teams.

Communication is key to clearing this hurdle. Early implementation efforts should include a focus on the why and how of Teams—why it’s being rolled out and how it works. In addition, it’s important to keep an eye on the Microsoft Road Map for new features, retired capabilities, and any changes that could affect employees’ productivity. Vigilance is the new normal.

Difficult transition from Outlook

It’s not surprising that some users may find the transition from Outlook to Teams slightly difficult—Teams requires an entirely new way of thinking, communicating and collaborating. Meeting this challenge requires a solid change management strategy that includes learning and development options as well as culture change efforts.

Not one of the issues employees may face as they begin using Teams is insurmountable. For organizations, the best remedy is a combination of time, effort, and a strategic approach to change.

Image: Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff from the 1935 film The Bride of Frankenstein. Photo from Universal [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

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