Jim Ebert is a Project Manager and Principal Scrum Master at ThreeWill. He has over 30 years of experience as a business and technology leader with demonstrated success in managing and delivering mission-critical projects and initiatives.
ThreeWill is a small organization, but we have clients all over the world. In fact, I am currently working with a client on a Jive-to-Microsoft 365 Migration project that impacts people from over 40 countries, including the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Colombia, Australia, and Japan, just to name a few. As such, having an effective and efficient collaboration tool is essential. That’s why we use Microsoft Teams for project team collaboration.
Conference calling has been around and in use on project teams for years; long before Microsoft Teams became available. But if you’re having a meeting with everyone “talking to a box” on the table, you’re really missing out. Think…
Microsoft Teams allows you to visually interact with those to whom you are speaking. You get to “see” their expressions and body language. And that makes it so much more personable. According to Albert Mehrabian, 55% of communication is non-verbal, 38% vocal, and 7% is the words themselves1. So, if you’re not “seeing” with whom you are interacting, over half of the intended communications may be lost.
I particularly like the use of Microsoft Teams with our international clients because being able to see each other makes it easier to get to know each other. It’s more natural to ask each other questions about where we all live and to learn more about each other’s cultures. When talking to our French-speaking counterparts, for example, I like to throw in some of my own high school French-speaking skills, and then watch their reactions, which is usually laughter at my expense. The same happens with a co-worker, who shows off her German language skills.
Another benefit? Learning new vernacular during meetings. Our European counterpart often says, “Let’s crack on”, which is to our “let’s get going”. I love how they also reference their calendar as their “diary”. And for us on Wednesdays, we say “Happy hump day”, whereas they say, “Happy back mountain day”. That one was a little bit of a head-scratcher for me.
Another fun Microsoft Teams feature is the ability for someone to dynamically share their “reaction” via emoticon.
To be a little cliché, having the ability to have this “visual” experience really does make the world seem a little smaller despite the distances between us.
Although the visual person aspect that Microsoft Teams provides is HUGE, another benefit of Microsoft Teams is that it allows for the interactive review and sharing of content. Documents, worksheets, and other artifacts can be dynamically displayed and updated by multiple people at the same time. When artifacts are in a different language, Microsoft also has translation toggles that can allow switching to English, which again is a great collaboration feature during a Teams meeting. Again, such encourages stronger interactive collaboration.
Microsoft Teams is a central “hub” for collaboration that is also truly 24/7. Members in Europe can create posts with questions/comments or add/update project artifacts during their early pre-ThreeWill morning hours, where the ThreeWill team can then see and respond when starting our day. And ThreeWill can do the same during a client’s after-hours period where they will then be able to see/respond at the start of their day. A huge benefit to this central hub? The ability to eliminate the need for many, if not nearly all, emails. How many times have you tried to find the email that had the latest version of a document attached? Did you feel like below?
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t some challenges in using Microsoft Teams with our international clients. The biggest challenge is scheduling our Microsoft Teams Meetings across so many time zones. With the current Jive Migration to M365 project I mentioned, we’re trying to get on calendars across 10.5 hours of time. Our meetings tend to start with “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening”. And for ThreeWill, I’m unfortunately the only team member in the U.S. Central Time Zone, as everyone else is in the Eastern Time Zone. As such, my days on this project start as early as 6:00 AM, and even earlier with exceptions. So, this is typically me in my first meeting:
I love how Microsoft Teams can bring so many different people from across so many different countries and cultures together in our projects. And as I said previously, the ability to visually see each other, and actively review and collaborate on project artifacts centrally, versus emails, really does make the world seem a little smaller.
Also, if you want to make your Teams meetings more interactive, check out this article by my coworker Mike Homol: Elevate Engagement in Teams Meetings with Microsoft Loop!
If your organization would like assistance in deploying Microsoft Teams, ThreeWill has a Teams Enablement service offering that includes Microsoft Teams training to properly equip your organization to use the tool and additional support to work with your various projects and teams.
1 Mehrabian, A. (1972). Nonverbal Communication. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction