Guide to Office 365 Digital Workplace User Adoption

Every technology success story starts with user adoption. Learn how to face the potential challenges and reap the benefits of Office 365 to the fullest.

Despite the proliferation of productivity apps, Microsoft’s Office 365 suite remains the most popular solution for digital workplace transformation. With all essential business tools in one place, from document processing to intranet, Office 365 enables employees to collaborate and get work done more efficiently, wherever they are.

To reap the benefits of Office 365 investment, businesses are putting effort into driving more user adoption. As reported by McAfee, only 22.3% enterprise users are active on Office 365. If you’re looking to increase Office 365 usage, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether your employees are reluctant to learn new technologies or they lack proper guidance on the new way of working, this Office 365 adoption guide aims to help you overcome the adoption hurdles and unleash the full potential of Office 365.

7-Step Guide to Office 365 Adoption

Maximizing your Office 365 adoption efforts begins with understanding the challenges your employees face. 

Common Adoption Challenges:

  • Competing priorities: Your team members often have other responsibilities directly related to their role.
  • Familiarity of legacy systems: Old habits die hard – your team is accustomed to existing solutions. 
  • Lack of an adoption plan: No proper roadmap to guide your team in their adoption efforts.

Depending on your current workplace setup, there will be different approaches to the way your team interacts with Office 365 applications. But there are certain practices that will lay the foundation for effective Office 365 adoption. Continue reading below.

Step 1: Create an Adoption Plan

Effective change management plays a crucial role in the success of your Office 365 adoption. But change management doesn’t happen overnight.

The best way to introduce a new system is to do it gradually.

To start, you’ll need to set a deployment date. From there, create an adoption plan leading up to the deployment date.  

4 Phases of Successful Adoption Plans:

  • Phase 1: Communicate the value of Office 365
  • Phase 2: Provide training
  • Phase 3: Implement workflows
  • Phase 4: Get feedback

Let’s take a look at each phase in greater detail.

Phase 1: Communicate the Value of Office 365

Your employees may not necessarily see the value of Office 365. That’s where you need to understand their pain points to effectively extract the relevant benefits. Here are questions to help facilitate the conversation:

  • What challenges are you currently facing with existing solutions?
  • How much time does it take to complete your tasks with the existing solutions?
  • How does the existing solution impede cross-collaboration?

Explain to your employees how Office 365 solves their current hurdles.

For example, if your employees find it hard to collaborate due to communication issues, explain to them how Microsoft Teams can solve that issue.

Providing your employees with practical scenarios will give them a better understanding of the value of Office 365. 

Phase 2: Provide Training

This second phase requires you to be transparent in communicating the changes and new practices to your employees.

It’s best to provide relevant resources to your team in advance so they can make the necessary preparations when transitioning to Office 365. Also, be thorough about what the team can expect; specifically, how the implementation of Office 365 impacts each department and its ways of working.

A crucial part of this phase is to provide resources. There’s a number of guides available, from user guides to training videos. You can incorporate these into your training roadmap.

Phase 3: Implement Workflows

One of  the challenges when deploying a new platform is the disruption to existing workflows.  Chances are your employees are already accustomed to current tools and processes. Making a switch can be daunting.

To circumvent this challenge, make sure to simulate your teams’ existing workflows within  Office 365. 

For example, if your marketing team relies on emails for feedback, they can maintain the feedback culture with SharePoint. Through SharePoint, they’re able to upload files to their marketing team site and notify the reviewer for interactive collaboration.

By accommodating your team’s workflow as part of the implementation plan, everyone can instantly get to work with minimal disruption.

Phase 4: Get Feedback

How do you know if your Office 365 deployment is effective?

The answer is through feedback. 

Be sure to check in with your employees at an early implementation stage to get their feedback. Here are a few questions you can consider:

  • Are you facing any challenges with the Office 365 implementation?
  • What additional steps can we take to make the implementation process smoother?
  • What pain points have Office 365 helped you solve?

Retrieving feedback at an early stage gives you use cases to make any improvements to change management plans.

Step 2: Configure the New Workspace

Establishing a proper governance framework is a necessary blueprint for adopting any solution. Office 365 offers a variety of tools, but without proper standardization, you’ll end up with teams scattered around the platform.

First, assign administration roles for Office 365 as well as user groups according to departments. Another important configuration is your SharePoint intranet. Make sure that you create dedicated team spaces as well as a team directory so everyone can easily find the information they need.

Next, provide structured guidelines on space utilization, such as content creation tips or naming convention for document management. 

That way, they can easily find groups, tasks, and documents across the Office 365 suite.

Step 3: Organize Your Workspaces with Space Navigator for Office 365

The Office 365 suite provides users with multiple touch points for collaboration. That said, navigating across spaces and applications can be time-consuming. 

This may create a poor Office 365 experience for your employees. 

If your employees are concerned about the complicated navigation and limited information accessibility, utilize the Space Navigator for Office 365 add-in to centralize all your digital workspaces.

The app organizes your Office 365 workspace by department, groups, or projects. That way, your employees can find information they need at a glance.

Furthermore, Space Navigator for Office 365 connects Office 365 with another popular business platform – Atlassian software, making it convenient for your team to utilize both solutions.

Read more: App Silos and the Reality of Digital Workplace Productivity

Step 4: Focus Your Adoption Efforts on Additional Apps

Odds are, your employees are already acquainted with tools such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

That familiarity is advantageous to your adoption efforts as your team will have little to no issues utilizing those tools in Office 365. 

It also gives you the opportunity to pivot your implementation efforts to other solutions within the suite. For example, SharePoint and Teams.

These new apps are where you should focus your adoption efforts. You can do so by demonstrating scenarios related to their workflows.

That way, your team can visualize how to incorporate it into their current ways of working.

Step 5: Explore the Integration Capabilities of Office 365

If your organization already has certain digital solutions in place, it may not be easy for them to transition to Office 365.

For instance, your team has been using Atlassian Confluence as the company wiki. And SharePoint may be seen as a competing solution.  

To avoid migration risks, you can integrate the two platforms instead.

Whether you’re looking for third-party apps or adding new features, there’s a wealth of integrations available on Microsoft AppSource to help extend your Office 365 capabilities.

Read more: Top 13 Collaboration Add-Ins for SharePoint and Teams

Step 6: Identify Success Stories and Pilot Teams

Behind every widespread technology adoption are successful early adopters. Rolling out Office 365 across the enterprise can be overwhelming, so start with a pilot team instead.  

Pilot teams are adoption success stories. They can set a clear vision for the team and empower others in adopting the Office 365 suite. 

The success of any pilot team begins with its members. Consider enlisting a representative from each department. That way, each team will champion specific use cases to the rest of your organization.

Step 7: Gamification

Given that your employees have their own set of priorities and responsibilities, you might not want to burden them by adopting a new solution.

A fun way to foster the adoption of Office 365 is through gamification. Gamification encourages solution exploration and leverages basic human behaviour of being rewarded.

Incentivizing the adoption process will motivate your employees to explore the capabilities of your Office 365 suite.

If your team finds Office 365 difficult to understand, gamification breaks down the main concepts of the suite into comprehensible ideas.

For a little friendly competition, you can even create leaderboards within your organization.

Conclusion

A successful Office 365 adoption translates into your team having the right tools to stay productive and collaborative.

When your team experiences the value of Office 365, they’ll notice that the benefits outweigh the effort and time taken to adopt it.

That way, they’ll get the full potential of the tools you’ve invested in, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits that come from a successful deployment.

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