The benefit of hindsight in business change with Microsoft 365

Picture the scene. Suddenly, in the middle of a normal life, there’s an unprecedented global pandemic and the government tells everyone to work from home.

However, you have little to no flexible working culture in your organisation – everyone’s on a desktop PC at the office and, until the pandemic began, the ethos has always been that if you’re not physically at your desk, you’re clearly not working.

The most frustrating thing is that your business already had the means to adapt to the new remote working model. Like tens of thousands of organisations, you use Office 365, so remote working was already possible. The problem is, your organisation had barely scratched the surface with what the platform can do – and definitely didn’t have a culture of using it for remote working.

Since mid-March, many businesses have been playing ‘catch-up’, trying to figure out how to use the cloud-based tools they already had. In many cases they have just about managed to get by and have learned some valuable lessons on the way. However, once ‘normality’ returns, will those new habits remain, or will you return to how things were?

Scratching the surface of Office 365

If, like thousands of other companies, you have only just started using Office 365 for remote working, it’s likely that you have encountered several issues adapting to this new way of working:

  • Technical issues:

When the pandemic began, your IT Department suddenly found themselves in the spotlight scrambling for the cheapest, quickest, most reliable way to get employees online at home. They were in their very own War Room, revisiting technical specifications and licence types, worrying about breaking shared mailboxes, panicking about migrating mail to the cloud and all the things that usually happen in the background, in order to ‘just switch it on’.

  • Management issues:

Feelings of frustration will likely have come to the fore as IT, end users and senior management asked why no one had been using Office 365’s remote tools since they’d been paying for and had access to it for several years already.

  • Adoption issues:

Even though your employees have the tools to work remotely, they’re still barely using them. Why are people pinging attachments to each other all day rather than storing documents on Teams? Why are they playing ‘email tennis’ instead of having conversations in channels? Why are they keeping documents on their desktops at home rather than in OneDrive?

Silver linings

Since going remote, many companies have experienced using Office 365 as a kind of virtual baptism of fire. And in many ways, this has been positive:

  • Overnight your adoption figures for Office 365 are second to none
  • Your call levels on Microsoft Teams have skyrocketed
  • The number of documents stored online are through the roof
  • You are finally getting real ROI with the platform

So, when the world resumes to something resembling normality, they’ll keep this adoption up – right? Wrong.

The likelihood is your business moved at the speed of light to get people working from home, you offered little (or no) training because there was no time and most importantly, your people didn’t have time to grieve for the ways of working they were losing. This might sound dramatic but according to the Kubler-Ross model, when encountering change we experience the exact same emotions as somebody who is bereaved.

As a consequence, there’s no guarantee that people will keep using Office 365 after the crisis has passed. Why is this?

In the diagram above, the curve is indicative of peoples’ productivity. Since working from home became the new norm, you’ve probably seen productivity increase. Nevertheless, your people will now likely be in the denial phase, or as I like to call it, the head in the sand phase.

They’re on autopilot, like ducks paddling ferociously underwater trying to stay afloat – looking serene as they struggle. From the curve above we can see where the productivity begins to drop – people become frustrated with the new ways of working because they were not embedded properly at the outset. The novelty has worn off at this point and the bad habits (caused by a lack of training and adoption) they’ve been repeating since the crisis began are starting to catch up with them.

Productivity at this point drops off a cliff – suddenly, your colleagues are consciously incompetent in jobs they’ve always excelled in. They are demotivated, angry and frustrated. This is where the adoption of Office 365 typically drops off – and it can fall dramatically.

To reiterate the point: while they have been forced to change their habits temporarily by the lockdown, people will quickly go back to their old habits if the change isn’t genuinely integrated into their ways of working. And that means your Office 365 investment will keep being a disappointment.

Now is the time to act to introduce lasting change with Office 365

As the lockdown starts to ease and some companies plan a phased return to ‘normality’, you are at a crossroads. You can choose to do nothing and hope that all the new adoption of Office 365 continues by itself, or you can make changes right now which will ensure that those temporary behaviours become permanent habits.

As change professionals, FITTS are adept at taking a snapshot of where you are now and taking you through the integration phase with productivity at an all-time high as quickly and effectively as possible.

With the right mixture of people-first change alongside adoption support, training, use cases, and the right messaging and communications, you can take the self-learning that’s taken place thus far through the forced change and can truly embed it. By using change management techniques, you can bolster an embedded, flexible working approach that stands the test of time  – and takes you and your organisational culture into the future.

To learn more about technology change management, download our new eBook for practical tips on instigating change

Are your employees struggling to make the most of remote working technology during lockdown? Do you want to ensure that the new habits people have formed become a permanent way of working? Talk to us today and see how we can help.