In this episode, Ryan interviews Tom Arbuthnot, Principal Solutions Architect at Modality Systems, about the role of Microsoft Teams in the digital workspace.
Unified comms and collaboration tools are the modern knowledge worker's Swiss Army knife, but making the most of these solutions is as much about culture as it is technology.
If your boss messages you at 6 p.m., are they expecting an immediate response or can it wait until the next day? These boundaries, already fuzzy in the digital workspace, have become even more difficult to define for those still adjusting to working from home as the new normal. The fix? Clearly defining your organization's communication culture and expectations.
In this episode, Ryan discusses the intersection of workplace culture and Microsoft Teams with Tom Arbuthnot, Principal Solutions Architect at Microsoft 365 Collaboration specialists Modality Systems.
Toms is a Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Master. He stays up to date with industry developments and shares news and his opinions on tomtalks.blog, Microsoft Teams Podcast and email list. He is a regular industry speaker at events around the world.
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Ryan Purvis 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in their field story from the frontlines. The problems they face how this author theories they're focused on from technology people and processes to the approaches it took. They'll help you to get to the scripts for the digital effects inner workings.
Tom Arbuthnot 0:30
I'm Tom Arbuthnot, Principal Solutions Architect at modality systems and we specialise in Microsoft 365. collab. So primarily Microsoft Teams but also Skype for Business in historically and kind of the rest of the Microsoft collaboration story.
Ryan Purvis 0:47
Fantastic. And then would you mind just giving us a view on what you think the digital workspace is or what it means to you?
Tom Arbuthnot 0:53
Yeah, it's a it's a one of those phrases of like, it could mean anything and everything. I think it depends on On the vertical and the organisation everything But broadly speaking, it's kind of using technology to maximum effect to meet your organisational objectives. So that's a bit of a consulting answer. But that's really it. Like it depends on what your organization's objectives are the how you might use tech or digital to improve the workplace organisation or whatever it may be. Yeah,
Ryan Purvis 1:26
that's great. I was curious about on your profile. What does it mean to be a martial Master?
Tom Arbuthnot 1:34
Yeah, it's a good title, isn't it? It's a bit of an old one actually. So back in Skype for Business server and Lync server and OCS which are very technical instal it yourself products as opposed to kind of cloud SAS. Michael had a programme called masters where you could do a kind of deep dive, three weeks with Microsoft, and it's like real like down to the nuts bolts, how it works, how the servers work, troubleshooting, that kind of stuff. So I did that it's quite old now in 2015. And you do lab exams and recent exams and all sorts. So, back when I was more hands on than I am now, that was the kind of the higher end certification for being a master in a particular technology. You could do it in exchange as well. You could do it SharePoint, I did it in Skype for Business.
Ryan Purvis 2:27
Okay, it is technology change that much go from Skype for Business to teams?
Tom Arbuthnot 2:32
Yeah, quite massively. I'm mainly I mean, there was a Skype for Business Online, there is a Skype for Business Online, but it really it was primarily the mass market was a server product. So you would, you know, instal it yourself on your own hardware, manage it, maintain it, patch it. The cloud is a completely different beast. So teams is a giant cloud service bill of lading micro services and you're buying it as a service from Microsoft. So all the patching and maintenance Since and to a certain extent the control is gone from the end organisation. And now it's about making most of it, understanding the constant changes, managing a SaaS service, which is very different to managing a kind of traditional, I can hug my service type service.
Ryan Purvis 3:19
I think we all have a bit of that quandary of new calling troller that you needed to do certain things.
Tom Arbuthnot 3:26
Yeah, it's fun watching. So I have the privilege of working with lots of different sizes of organisation, the biggest being kind of 300,000 and, and then a few kind of hundred thousand 50 thousands and down to a few thousand at the lower end. And it's interesting, particularly at the higher end, seeing organisations completely bought into Cloud as a proposition by going all in buying the licencing spending their millions. And then they start rolling out and it kind of filters down the org and you'll say, wait a minute, this just changes like yeah, how did this affect Change controls, I don't know what you've got right now of change control, but Microsoft can change it. So kind of understanding the positive implications of buying into Cloud, but also the realities of buying into Cloud that you are no longer in complete control. You're, you're jumping on a train that's going in a certain direction, but the train is gonna keep going, whether you like it or not.
Ryan Purvis 4:20
Yeah, that's and that's speed. And I remember back in my days in large corporates, I mean, your change control process was so rigorous and bureaucratic for good reasons. I mean, you know, there's a reason why those things are put in place. But, you know, running out an update to CRM, for example, or even teams were just happened, and you couldn't stop it. You know, I can see people freaking out just that concept
Tom Arbuthnot 4:43
is scary for lots of dogs.
It's a completely foreign concept in some ways. And what often happens is the decision to go cloud is made more of an executive business slash it levels. So like we're all in we've been we've been you know, microsite is amazing. We're buying it And then it filters down particularly, you know, big 10s of thousand multi thousand dollar. There are a whole different departments for each technology sometimes. And then if it goes out, it's like, well, this is what you've bought. And it's quite funny I often end up in the situation as a consultant I work for Microsoft, but I slashgear modality get brought in to help make the most of technology bought effectively. And I end up in a situation with a lightweight car like like that. Well, it does work like that and you've bought it So hey, like, let's talk about how you can what you can do to understand it, deal with the roadmap to get on the previews where appropriate, like, let's deal with the realities of what you're buying into. But it's the way all technologies going. It's not like there's a vendor out there that saying, No, the way forward is controlled servers and you control your packaging and you have it all all in your own org and all the big vendors are kind of in agreed in the markets agreed that the net net, the ability, the innovation you get from SAS, the ability to turn on and off like a tap that's an upside that warrants the you That kind of speed of change impacted on the business organisation.
Ryan Purvis 6:04
Can you not see a level of hybrid does come into that. So you'd have some things that would be cloud hosted and you would have some pieces on the edge that would be let lets you control the control by the by the customer, but you can control it you that could be two different states.
Tom Arbuthnot 6:22
Yeah, it depends on the technology. So my world is is mainly comes in collaboration. And in my world, definitely. So for example, your telco connectivity in teams is usually via a traditional telco. So somebody who's managing that piece could be the customer could be the telco. But But if you go hybrid, you're kind of getting the best and the worst of both, because now you've got a team that has to look after the servers and the team that has to look after cloud and you have to come to your customers. So I think different technologies might warrant being either hybrid or on prem for something In the cloud for others, but you don't you're causing yourself a lot of overhead if you're doing it arbitrarily, if that makes sense as to be really good reason for it.
Ryan Purvis 7:07
Yeah, I'm thinking about like recordings. So in the banking world, we got traders that need to do their calls early to automatically recorded and then by legislation, they may need to be recorded and held in, in the Nova Sol. So yeah,
Tom Arbuthnot 7:21
but you can do that in cloud. So so so so Hi, friends how you can hybrid one of those massively overused terms, but you can you know, right now we have customers recording Microsoft team sessions for compliance. And they record it in their as your so it's still in the cloud, but it's their tenants and it's geo located to the correct region for compliance. But yeah, he's that hybrid. I mean, they control some of it and microcontroller, some of it so maybe, but it's definitely not in their data centre.
Ryan Purvis 7:50
Yeah. This morning, I was thinking about some of the banking sort of concerns that have arisen to that in a meeting previously and one of those things was they wanted to have recordings on premise They environments and then have as little cloud copy but but has this sort of two states for repudiation
Tom Arbuthnot 8:08
Yeah, I mean, this really speaks to your your background, doesn't it? So don't say financial is one of the most interesting ones for cloud because of the regulation and the tight requirements. And yes, you So Microsoft have an API for session recording if you like session capture and they will throw the recording at you and when I say at you at a third party product, so there's eight or nine certified vendors for this and they you know, catch the recording and store and that can be 100% as your that that could be, all the recordings are kept in a data centre you control under your own locking key. But the decision for where to put the recordings, usually the compliance is about actually having control an audit trail and as you said, like In the correct region or the correct country or the correct legislative area, it doesn't say has to be in your data centre, it has to be in as your AWS or any other cloud provider is more about meeting the regs. So we're seeing more and more acceptance of it can be cloud, but to the correct regulations, there'll be okay.
Ryan Purvis 9:19
Yeah, that makes sense. I remember back in the day with wins when SharePoint was was bought and turned into, let's say it was 2003.
Unknown Speaker 9:31
So I think that was the voice. Going back now,
Ryan Purvis 9:34
back to back 10 years. I think one thing Yeah, sorry. No, yeah. That was one of the things that I remember hearing in a conference. And this was sort of when it was 2003. That went to 2007. And there was 2010, that that SharePoint would be the new desktop. And the idea is that everything would consolidate into SharePoint. So you'd have your search would would work across your desktop and then into into SharePoint as well. You'd have your email coming through SharePoint through sort of Outlook. widgets and all that kind of stuff. It seems to me that the same thing is happening with teams teams becoming the new workspace or the new work.
Tom Arbuthnot 10:07
Yeah, definitely. And desktop is kind of code word for the centre of your life, isn't it? So it's like where you spend most of your time is really and then do whatever is the hot technology that gets said. So it's definitely been said about to use multiple times. I think email is still has such a hard grip on a lot of the ways people work. I think outlook is still a strong contender for like spending lots of your screen time. But we're definitely seeing teams, certainly for internal work processes. Taking over that, particularly, if you look at the way collaborative workspaces work if companies properly adopt that practice of having a group chat space, and you know, and the same thing can be said of other technology vendors, but this common denominator in group chats, With apps and files, if you can get that planted in your organisation and definitely I spend most of my day in team because all my projects live in teams, all my files live in teams, all my internal comms live in teams. Still with, you know, with Federation and guest access and things to external logs, that's that's increasing. outlook is still about, but net net, definitely Microsoft T is a front door to Office 365. And they say office 365 is where you work. So yes, they expect you to spend a good amount of time with teams as front of screen for you.
Ryan Purvis 11:34
Yeah, I mean, myself and Dominique and Heather and john did an exercise of trying to cut down email. I mean, for Dominic, it was complete cactus down to almost zero, I think. For me, it was a it was a it was a slight reduction, maybe 25% less and then push it into teams. And I can see it working and work better as teams matures as I select. It's a fairly clunky experience. But I can see that there's so much And sometimes I watch the emails fly back and forth to somebody conversations or email, they don't email. They don't need to be email. So it would be ideal if you can get into a sort of persistent chat world. And I think the biggest challenge to that is people have grown up with Skype for Business, which wasn't persistent chat.
Tom Arbuthnot 12:19
Yeah, that's a really good point. And like there's a difference. We spend some time on this with organisations, there's a difference between teams chat and Skype, business chats or Skype for Business chat. had a chat history, you could go and look up like an audit trail if you'd like a personal audit trail, but it wasn't persistent between sessions. So it was instant messaging. And teens is not instant messaging in the same way. Yes, it sends it instantly. But there's a cultural decision to make about, does it, you know, is instant mean does because it sends instantly Does that mean you aren't an instant reply. So his email is asynchronous or is it synchronous real time like it's the messaging, and then reality somewhere in the middle, like, people will reply if they can about, I might not expect an instant reply, but I'm not gonna send you an email, I'll send you a chat message. So there's some cultural changes there, which we're all working through around. I had a really good conversation about Is it okay to the team chat message out? That was? Because Are you inferring? You need an instant reply because you sent the chat message, but but you'd happily send an email of ours, because that's not very easy to reply instantly. So I think every org has some cultural decisions to make around how they treat this new continuous async. Calm tomorrow.
Ryan Purvis 13:37
Yeah, now Exactly. It's funny because we were talking about this with someone else. And if you look at someone like in the French work culture, you're actually not allowed to check email outside of work hours, you can't send email out of work hours, I think as well. Yeah. Whereas the instant message would be probably close to same. Have you had any customer sort of come back to you on
Tom Arbuthnot 14:01
Yeah it's definitely a conversation point that there's there's like say France is one of the countries that has fairly specific regulations. There are some features in teams now. I mean, you can set quiet hours you can also set some country not country controls but like controls around when it will notify you and not notify you centrally to meet some of those regulations. It's a tricky topic, isn't it? Because it's, you can obviously see the intent which is that if you let people message at all hours, they tend to get sucked into work and therefore they end up working longer than their paid quote unquote. I think it very much depends on the organisation and the role of culture again like for me, I work odd hours, I I will absolutely get my kids to bed, jump on my laptop, a clock, smash out a few bits and pieces to get ahead of the next day. And then do an hour then and equally are quite often jump out of work at Three o'clock, pick my kids up from school and not worry that I've got an hour and picking my kids up and saying hello to them and everything else. That's part of our culture. So for my goal, that wouldn't work at all. But if if employees are feeling pressured to work, then I can see how you need some way to protect them. I'm not sure it rules are the way to protect that kind of scenario. But it's it's one option.
Ryan Purvis 15:24
Yeah, you're right. I mean, that's that's sort of the integrated working method. And it's how I grew up working in a lot of ways where you you make today in with your, your work, and if it means you working late nights, but that might suit your sort of mentality and the work you're doing as well.
Tom Arbuthnot 15:41
Yeah, I think there's a big difference between like shift work and knowledge work in that sense, like if you're doing say, retail or warehouse or whatever, and your boss is paying you out of hours for answers. That's not part of the kind of unwritten contract like you're being paid per hour. You're they're asking you to To be aware of work outside of hours or ask questions, I think is a stretch. But if you're giving, if you're in a kind of modern knowledge worker, your your results orientated, not ours orientated, then I don't see the point of locking email off or comes off bang on 530 for example,
Ryan Purvis 16:19
from a personal decision point of view, where you can decide if you read that message, example, my boss sent me something like 10 to seven last night, and I was just finished off dinner with the kids and that kind of stuff. And I didn't have to reply right there and then I can reply to him. Yeah. And then I don't think he was expecting me to reply it you know, five days you know, he was he was expecting me to reply and and that's a good healthy culture.
Tom Arbuthnot 16:50
Yeah, I think it's definitely a conversation to have out loud though. isn't a guy I do wonder about it. Sometimes I dig in. I quite often work Sunday night to go jump on the week. And I do One, if I send the team's message or an app mention, am I applying kind of psychic pressure on those people to apply? And I've had that conversation with lots of people just saying, look, I, I work odd hours, I'm not expecting a reply. I'm just getting the ball out of my court kind of thing. But I think is an important cultural conversation out loud, because you could definitely see how someone, typically if you're Junior in organisation, like Well, my boss, just ping me I have to reply now because they're my boss. So that conversation is worth having for sure.
Ryan Purvis 17:28
Yeah, no, I agree. I agree. I mean, you've worked with a lot of customer, they wouldn't be one of your sort of best rollouts or best experiences with what you've worked with over the over time doesn't have to be teams, it can be even back to Skype.
Tom Arbuthnot 17:41
Yeah, I mean, it's interesting to talk about the definition of best isn't it because even your work?
Ryan Purvis 17:47
Tom Arbuthnot 17:48
mean, I think what's pretty been truly transformational over the years I've been working in it which is quite a while is the psyche has moved best from Successful technical roll out to actually use by the business. So if I think back, you know, 1012 years, you were patting yourself on the back in it. If you successfully plugged in all the IP phones and they all had dial tone and the failover test work and you've done everything you didn't care if you were using them or not like you can care if they knew how to use it or not, you were just like, well my job is to plug all this stuff in make it five nines available. Patrick, the current data best in 2020s incredibly different for for the better. I think it's now well, if the business aren't gained value, what was the point? Like where we become and it's still a journey. I don't think all of it is there yet, but we've become much more aware of like, it used to serve and enable the business to do whatever they're trying to do. So what are the business goals and how do we help? So I'd say in that context, augs are starting to get beyond Just the kind of juicy bit of teams actually use the collaboration work out loud piece and he says only pockets is still a very early in the in the kind of all big old psyche about using teams channels. But I'm seeing things like the organisations we work with move knowledge workers and projects into sprint type methodologies to have stand ups talk out loud, have a have a backlog, use teams for all that stuff that is really, really transformational. For the for the better of the business. I think
Ryan Purvis 19:34
he made that point he is the author of a brokerage economy was qualified the name but basically it's how the US military changed their approach. And they were the sort of very structured hierarchical organisation and they moved to this one and a half, one and a half hour meeting every day. So a version of a stand up with a flowing out into some working groups. Basically they were in I mean, it's very hard to think to this very network Nexus. Because the biggest problem when they were fighting, I think was in Afghanistan is that they couldn't respond fast enough to the enemy because the enemy wasn't what they expected it to be. The enemy wasn't a hierarchical structure.
Tom Arbuthnot 20:14
Yeah, they just they just moved organically on made decisions on the ground. And in the meanwhile, the orders went from the ground to some commander takes a week to get the decision back that kind of thing that makes sense.
Ryan Purvis 20:26
And and by going into this one and a half out, meeting a day, it was it was anyone could, I mean, I can't remember the ranks that were involved, but I think the head ranks that you know, down to the privates, potentially that were lost during this call. And if they needed to say something, it could be said and a decision can be made either right there and then or they would split out quickly and have a side meeting to make that decision to come back. So very, very dynamic world. And, and what I've seen in in the organisations that have done well is exactly what you've said is moving to the sprint agile approach and it doesn't have to be all of the tenants of The methodology, you know, just a basic once one meeting a day, what you're working on what you block off and what have you done. It gets everyone on the same page very quickly. It also cuts down the number of other meetings you have to have or that will need to have a more focused
Tom Arbuthnot 21:17
I'm so converted to the methodology Am I so part of my role at Medallia were a few different hats is product ownership for some of our reporting products. So I do a daily standup with dev we have you know, we do sprint, we have the board we have impediments or all that good stuff and I'm so it took me a long time. I'm so converted to it. I think the biggest challenge with it to your point is there's a lot of like, slightly we're inside a terminology like impediment and PBI and sprint and backlog. Like when you get your head around all the crazy terminology. It does boil down to that like a clear list of things to do clearly planned and prioritised at a time with execution with the countability that's all it really is. I think someone's got a job to do. I mean, I know people have tried but to kind of the clutter it from the kind of esoteric terminology to say this is what it is for business like it's, it's everybody's written down tasks with names on with efforts on with estimates on and they are going to update you because far too much in the organisational side of businesses, it's like, well, we will have a great meeting, we will say there's 10 things to do, we will walk away we'll come back in two weeks at the same meeting, like nothing gets done.
Ryan Purvis 22:32
Yeah, and I think there's a level of trying to avoid the fire drills. So as you can have every morning this and you find all that that really, you know, in normal day can wreck your day. By having a sprint with deliverables and stuff. when something comes in, you're like, Well, you know, if we do this, it's gonna affect the sprint deliverables. He's already committed to these things that we signed off on. Do you still want to do it and there's that hesitation that that you need and sometimes you have to drop something for four or $5 and So,
Tom Arbuthnot 23:01
yeah, that's a really good point. And I point this out to our dev team, sometimes actually, you live quite a blessed life, if you work on pure sprint methodology, because essentially someone saying, like, you've only got this much time, this is what you're committed to, to the next two weeks, and I'm going to completely leave you alone to do that. I mean, that's not business, because new opportunities come in and priorities change. So two weeks is quite a long time on the business side, as opposed to the development side. But I mean, there's, there's the other side of that coin, which is, I see business side, try to adopt sprint methodology, and not have any time to commit to the outcome. So they'll, they'll make a big list of things to do, that'll put names against them, but they've all got their day job to do as well. So it really focuses the mind on what is actually important. We all sat here and said, this is important. But is it important enough to drop other things because if he's not, let's just be honest. We're not gonna do it. And that's a tough conversation to have, but I think it's really healthy. Yeah, I
Ryan Purvis 24:01
mean, it comes back to expectation management. I mean, that's that's communication. If you can't do those two things, then, you know, nothing else really works.
Tom Arbuthnot 24:08
Yeah. And I think with this, we were talking about it on our pre call, but like, everybody working from home or working remotely now because of the the world event and probably continuing to do so that transparency around what everybody's doing, how they're doing it daily updates, and having out loud workspaces, so chat updates and things. So you don't have to jump everybody onto a meeting every time you want an update. I think that's gonna become more prevalent, because you can't have the same thing you have in a physical office where you can all just sort of ad hoc hear each other's conversations and and cohesively know where you're going. You need a bit more structure,
Ryan Purvis 24:45
I think. Yeah. And yeah, they need people in different different situations. I mean, you know, I've got a young son and a baby on the way. I think you have kids as well. Yeah. So so they need attention to You know, you don't want your children to grow up being a nanny by netflix you know, you want to do you want to spend like about the train so that my son yesterday for an hour that took him to the to the playground for an hour and I still won't, you know, my sort of normal workday does happen to be in a typical morning, but that's, that's a different different kettle of fish. Whereas some of the other guys are, they're not encumbered by children or the children have left home early. So they could book a you know, 73 or 95, or whatever they have to do seats, VSP to customers, etc. And it's trying to find those overlaps. And by having some some kind of methodology, which is like a sprint methodology, the work still gets done and it's results orientated. And,
Tom Arbuthnot 25:44
yeah, results orientated is the key phrase, that is it. And it's funny, like, I've worked on it for nearly 10 years now. And he, you know, like, we all leave the office at whatever time and I'll come or whatever time we do whenever we have a very healthy culture on that. From but one of the sales directors who's gone now, he would occasionally throw jokers you walk out the office three o'clock well done for the day and said, Well, I could get paid by results now by the hour like you're paying me to deliver stuff like whether I work an hour or 10 hours doesn't make any difference. It's results orientation. I think it's a bit flippant, but I think that's really important to understand. Like if a knowledge worker is delivering the value, it doesn't really matter how long it takes them. You're paying them per outcome. Really?
Ryan Purvis 26:30
Yeah, we use the same joke when I started. I was working half day. Yeah. But is full business. It is a bit like that because you actually are doing you guys are passionate about it because it's small. It's still a collective family in some senses. So there is a bit of a jive and a competitive nature. Bradley Cooper used to laugh at four o'clock the guy does this occasionally spinning as people live. Yeah. Yeah.
Tom Arbuthnot 26:59
If you're managing By seeing people are at their desks, I think you're floored you know me like, like quite often there's a lot of kudos given to the person that gets in a clock and leave for seven o'clock. They could be playing Minesweeper for half the day. Nobody knows just as they appear to be at the office a lot. I think that's, that's not unusual. We certainly spoken to a lot of organisations, we do adoption, change management culture, stuff, and some of that conversation has been, oh, how do we know our people are working out? How do we know they're productive? You don't say like, how do we know they're working? Because it sounds like you're you know, managing them the next day, like how do we make sure they're productive? But, but the reality is they had no process in place to do that when they were in the office. They just were like, well, because they were here before so working, where they had it, how did you measure their output? Today they were in the office.
Ryan Purvis 27:46
Interesting thing you bring up a defect you and you mentioned experience, I wanted to bring it up talk about that as well. So the production part of this so the one aspect aspect to this is we We used to do well, I still use the tool now, am I a digital experience monitoring tool that measures what's going on the desktop? So how much time are you spending in applications? What websites you browsing, is looking for fault errors, all that kind of stuff as well. So it gives you quite a nice endpoint to view. When it becomes interesting when talking about experience, it's not so much. It's not just about, you know, the sort of state of the device, but it's also the user's perception of that of what they are doing. So if if outlook slow when they're trying to use it, or, you know, they Buta processes, slow, all the same things affect the perception, but you need to have something that gives you metrics that that's not opinionated, but more empirical. way this way I was getting into is, you know, I notice a team's a very clunky experience, but I think the value and get out of it, I'm prepared to accept that clunkiness you know, as it gets better, but I know that there's some users that don't Feeling them. Now, while I was gonna say that's the one visa story about that experience, the other piece of this is trying to see where people spend their time. And it should be using those applications as part of their job, so that the partner is given those results. So, you know, if you're going to developer who spends four hours a day in Outlook, then they're probably not writing good code or their property management job and not a developer's job. And then technically, your architect might be slightly different, but but it's trying to understand those metrics, because when you start providing the right, tooling to someone you want to understand their persona and what they need and where they should be spending their time. I mean, any thoughts on those two sort of aspects?
Tom Arbuthnot 29:38
Yeah, I think that's a fascinating topic. So I use a product called rescue time personally. And that's a little desktop agent that monitors basically active screen time and gives you a self report on where you spend your time. And outlook was the prime candidate to look at it like for me, like if you're spending a disproportionate your time in our Look, you're just probably just reacting to incoming stuff and replying. And then your hundred percent what you said is true. Like, it depends on the job bro. Like if I'm project management that probably is my primary job like I live in planner or project and outlook. So I 100% thing that's worth looking at. It's a real delicate balance between trying to coach the employees to get the most out of their role and kind of overbearing them worried because they look at YouTube for 20 minutes and you're gonna crack down on them. So I think it's a delicate topic at scale. But definitely, outlook is one of those enemies, like if people people use their email as a task list like that absolutely kills me. Like they boot up their outlook and whatever that basically was at the top or whatever has been chased a few times. That's where they start. It's so easy to do that and then you know, we've all done it. I'm 100% sure, but blocking out Time to plan where you're actually going to spend your time as opposed to reacting is a really big, big important thing.
Ryan Purvis 31:06
Yeah, I mean, I've tried to, I've tried two strategies, and I'm currently on the strategies my my current email strategy. So the two shows I tried the first one it was I would do email first thing in the morning, at lunchtime. And in the evening. That didn't work. Because the minute I saw something in my inbox that became my day. So the second strategy I do now is I don't try, I try not to open up look until after the first meeting of the day. So if I'm going to meet and only look at my calendar, which I can look at it a separate app that hasn't changed open, only open email, like sort of 11 o'clock in the day and then I'll do an hour going through it and then signing up. And that seems to work and then usually again, at sort of five, six o'clock, I'll look again and then I'll try to keep up and closed through the rest of the day.
Tom Arbuthnot 31:57
Yeah, that that's amazing. I think they're nice. It's very much an all culture thing again. And this is where sometimes teams can help because lots of orgs I see it still today all the time. Email is treated like instant messaging or almost like a phone call. Like if your boss emails you they expect the response. And then when you add something like teams, you can respect for the org why kind of say like teams is not synchronous comms? I'll get to it when I get to it. If you need me urgently, it's in semester if you need me properly, urgently. Really. It's fine me because Don't expect me to be looking at my team's instant messaging bots. Every hour of the day. I'm busy. Like you say I'm a broker. I'm busy coding. I'm a whatever I'm busy writing tenders. But technology is not the answer. The culture conversation is really the answer because any of these technologies can be used well or badly. Email is just the common denominator badness for task list for quick replies for thought out combs like it's the common denominator, unfortunately for a lot of those evils
Ryan Purvis 33:05
Yeah, you're so right. And I was actually I mean, funny enough I did this morning and usually I don't do is I looked at my email in the morning and I started replying to stuff. I was like, What are you doing? anyway? This is your good man. This is too good brain time.
Tom Arbuthnot 33:17
so tempting though, isn't it because it feels like you're getting stuff done. Like it's, you know, that work being done in kind of all the casino kind of keep you hooked on on the casino games. And now the modern iPhone type games. Like all those buzzes you get from taking things awful winning things or climbing a pointless game ladder. It's the same thing in email. I've got 12 things and now I'm down to six things I've done the six things that will not move the ball forward and anything that's important to the organisation, you've just replied to six emails like it's a real easy thing to get sucked into. And you could spend your whole day in Outlook and achieve very little potentially but Y'all I got 100 messages done. So what it does it does it has it impacted.
Ryan Purvis 34:05
Yeah. Good friend used to call those days if nine days. Yeah, send a receipt. You know, we got an email back in the day that communication server and link
Tom Arbuthnot 34:20
that's funny MIT used to tell me they knew when I was on a flight because I have a, again another great tool, simply file there's an outlook plugin for managing email and you can folder eyes email on Send very easily and folder it coming in. And I have a waiting for folder and urvi folder. So this has become less impactful when I use teams but I would still for external emails, I'm waiting for a response. I send it and it lands in my waiting for folder. And whenever I would get on the fly, I would smash through that folder. You know, they'd be they'd be potentially hundreds of things in there. So I'd land and this is pre you know why 3g being common on planes, but I'd land and hundreds of email to go out chasing things. Okay. So, yes, I know what those days were like. It's definitely different with teams.
Ryan Purvis 35:08
Yeah. I'm actually
Tom Arbuthnot 35:13
really good at hiring highly recommended. I mean, these one of the things I miss about teams now is all of my project conversations are in channels in teams. I can bookmark them to remind me to go back to them. But having so much, you know, task processing has grown up around email and that simply file product is excellent.
Ryan Purvis 35:36
Okay. So that's something that I have found slightly frustrating with with teams is the ability to find things you have like teams inside of teams, which doesn't make sense to me. I don't know why they haven't.
Tom Arbuthnot 35:50
Yeah, the namings brilliant isn't it? Half of training is saying whether you're talking about Microsoft Teams, the product or teams within Microsoft Teams, the the workspace entity
Ryan Purvis 36:00
The other thing I wanted to ask you is I mean, do you do you have some best practice on how to set up channels versus teams? Like sort of?
Tom Arbuthnot 36:07
Yeah, yeah. Again, it's an it depends on a consultant, right. But teams is super easy. If you're a person who has one to three projects you focus on like, it is absolutely brilliant in that story, like you're doing three projects, you're doing an RFP for a sales thing. You're doing an internal project to get you through ISO accreditation. And you have a regular group of people who work together on something else. So you've got three spaces, and those are teams. The members of those teams all relate to those projects. And then channels, separate topics of conversation or areas of conversation that people find pretty easy. Where it gets hard is the reality of That's hard. Anybody like like most people are involved in 1012, maybe more printers or they're a little bit involved. So a lot of it is getting your mindset out of, if I'm in a team, I have to read every message. So think of a team to kind of use a physical analogy. If you think of a team as an office, and the project has an office, and if you think way back to when, literally, you would have like a war room or an office for a project. In that room, you'd all come together to communicate. You saw your files in there, you'd have whiteboards and things pinned up on the walls, like it would be a physical space where everything about that project leave, that's the team. Now certain people are allowed in that office, and certain people aren't. That's your team membership. So but just because I'm allowed in the office doesn't mean I'm in the office 24 by seven, so you can't just assume I'm reading everything that's in that office or you shouting that office, everybody hears it. And this is the conversation to have is a team is a space where you work members are allowed in. But how you agree to communicate depends on the project. If it's a project of five people who are only on one project, posting a message probably means all five people will read it. If it's a project where there's 20 people anecdotally involved, you can pretty much assume they won't read every post unless you specifically mentioned them. So therefore, it's okay to be a member of a team and not read every message. Don't feel like you're waiting to read everything. The project is ongoing, you just have the opportunity to jump in and look at the balls and see what's going on with the plan, but not the requirement to do so. And once you get your head around that I'm a member of like the modality I'm a member of easily like 60 teams. At any one time. I probably care about five or 10. But people cannot mention me in the other teams if they want me otherwise they'd assume I'm not paying attention. It's quite a hard thing to get over to be members of so many spices, why things are going on and not feel the necessity to be engaged with every single one?
Ryan Purvis 39:06
Yeah, I think that goes back to the cultural thing we've all grown up with where you where you've got to be on top of everything. Or there's that that Pavlov's dog thing where you see a red icon and you need to chase down to see why it's, it's not read. Yes,
Tom Arbuthnot 39:21
yeah. And then then judicious use of, you can mention entire channels or entire teams, and that would alert everybody who's a member that gets overused. Like, I hate it when I see people posting news articles, and they mentioned the entirety now like, Look, nobody needs an alert for that. Like it's a news article. They'll get to it when they get to it, or they won't, and that's okay. And it's not a judgement on anybody that does that. It's just training because they don't realise that's not the right thing to do. And conversely, people that post into general and have an expectation that everybody will read it when there's 15 minutes Because they've all got different jobs to do, that's not the right expectation either. So again, culture training, adoption and all the stuff that classically, it weren't the best part is more and more important.
Ryan Purvis 40:15
So the typical Microsoft, where we're going the product is version one is okay, maybe crappy version two sort of arrives, then version three becomes really, really good. And then version four normally sets the world in five minutes. Is that where we are now as team? Do you think we're sort of in two or three version three potentially?
Tom Arbuthnot 40:36
Yeah, so it definitely is the classic, isn't it? The version three thing I mean, we're three years in this, the versioning is much more incremental in teams because it's a giant cloud service. So it's growing all the time. But we've definitely I think the last year hits a level of maturity where it went from, like he started off was more or less a kind of skunkworks project. It was a very tight, tight Small Group out of the Skype group. And clearly it usage wise I mean 75 million daily active users. Clearly it's a thing now. And clearly the masses are here. So it's much more mature in kind of its structure and dev process. It depends how you measure kind of good, I guess, you could argue that it's it's does so much it's a bit sprawling in terms of all its abilities and all these features. So I think there's some still work to be done on, for example, we talked to the top of the session about working with external organisations, that's still a bit clunky. there's still work to be done there. But as an internal tool for what it is, I definitely think it's powerful and robust. Yeah.
Ryan Purvis 41:46
Yeah. No, I think probably having zoo is probably the one that's at the head of the theory with all their security issues and that sort of thing. From an adoption point of view. People just use it. I mean, zooms become the
Tom Arbuthnot 41:58
Yeah, but Isn't that fascinating. Because, yes, 100%. And I see that too. And we see that in some of our biggest dogs. The Zoom is primarily an online meetings platform. They've added, they've got some chat and they've added phones recently. But that's sort of the easiest thing to adopt in a way because everybody knows what online meeting is. Everybody hates get up every now that the kids join it. No, that's not take anything away from zoom. Their platform has been really powerful, really easy to use, you know, really good on bandwidth, all that that they've a lot of the cloud benefits they nailed, so I don't want to take anything away from them. But comparing zoom to teams is is interesting, because teams is also collaborative chat. It's also apps. It's also bots, meetings is a piece of the puzzle. I think some ways Microsoft has taken a bit of a strategic hit of they could have just broken out meetings from teams as an app and said there's a team's meeting app, and they probably could have won quicker in the online meeting space. Because they would have taken all the governance complexity all this conversation we've had about how a team works and cultural change and at mentions and all that. So they could have just hidden it all and said, where meetings platform, we're bundling office 365 go, no doubt, I have no doubt in my mind that would have increased usage of online meetings for teams very quickly. I think Microsoft are playing a longer game of, we want to be part of the workflow part of the work experience, not just the meeting, but the whole workflow, which is stunted. They're not stunted, but slow dead growth because there's so much culturally, mentally governance best practice to get around. But I think if you look out five years, like what what's going to be different about teams and zoom in terms of online meetings, they're broadly going to be the same thing. The win is going to be being the centre of people's work or like you said, the top of the session that the desktop like that's that's how you have the user is if you own the workflow, that Stop our experience. Yeah. And
Ryan Purvis 44:02
that's sort of we heading into that v4 world where now becomes the it is the centre. And the maturity is that and I think the other thing, which which any other vendor will struggle with is the integration with Microsoft as much smartsoft is, is opening up its, you know, to any integrations, nothing should integrate with martial black martial products.
Tom Arbuthnot 44:22
Yeah, and they being unusually level playing field about it too, which is funny because they have API integration. There are third party phone providers who have written soft phones that pin into teams like a native app that you can, you can join a zoom from teams. So so in some ways, they're they're allowing others to get in to teams as an experience, but you're 100% right, it's Microsoft and Microsoft, there's always a better way for Microsoft to do for themselves. So it's a very formidable challenge in the collabspace. All Microsoft had to be is good enough to not justify spending another 12 bucks On another service, even if the other service is better, it has to be exponentially better because who isn't going to have 365? I mean, you need email, you need some kind of file store, you need some kind of cloud platform. buying those all bespoke. Is, is tough. I think 365 is a common denominator for most dogs.
Ryan Purvis 45:21
Yeah, I mean, I don't I mean, I know there are some organisations have gone with, what's it called Google Apps? Yep. I know that some have gone that way. I know, some have come back to the markup world. And besides that, you've either got to build your own, by cobbling together a whole bunch of other components, which is pay the credit card and be online.
Tom Arbuthnot 45:40
Yeah, 100%. I mean, you see, you see kind of Google Apps, Dropbox Slack, like lightly clean like smaller, more nimble orgs, who don't have any particular cultural way of working but if you go into any, any is a bit hard to be going to most larger organisations, that they live on Excel and Word today. Office. So the point where you're going to buy office, like you need email, so you might you're not gonna run your own email servers in 2020. So now you can buy office 365. Well, you've got SharePoint, you've got OneDrive, you've got teams. So yeah, I feel for the competitors in the space because it's, you have to provide so much additional value. That's not so you can't look at zoom as a prime example. But it's definitely a challenge.
Ryan Purvis 46:23
What do you think Citrix has got their own version of teams? Or? That might be wrong? Yeah,
Tom Arbuthnot 46:28
yeah. Cisco. Cisco has a team's version as well. There's the ultimate plan. Guys have version two there. There are a few players about and honestly, I get in fun conversations where people try and take me feature for feature on those things. It's like well, slack does this and WebEx does that. I'm like, cool. Like you've like, if you want to use those, I'm not here to convert you. But But think about total cost of ownership. Think about security and governance and discover And infosec think about all these suddenly the conversation changes from this thing has a blue button This thing has a red button to if I need to do Information Discovery on my entire org How do I do that when I'm running Dropbox and slack and and Trello and this thing and that thing and that thing? I think really functionally that much better that they weren't the overhead might be yes or no honestly you You're the org you pick the business goals make the money. If you tell me slack is making you more money, you slack blessings. But if if they're roughly the same, and you've already paid for one, do you really need it is a fun conversation to have.
Ryan Purvis 47:40
Yeah, and I mean, I've sat in a few sessions where we guys are trying to argue the beta, sort of almost all of the different choices. Integration becomes the biggest pain point and then they're complaining about how even though zoom integrator slack and I get thought a call They come up with a call record the call automatically sometimes or does it hit stores in the cloud, but once those on the desktop, they call control where it is worth recording to.
Tom Arbuthnot 48:09
Yeah, it is tough to make those things work together. So you can have the conversation, you can almost draw a line. It's like user experience and management, control, compliance, governance, those are the big areas. And even if you completely now user experience, the governance control audit trail, discovery thing can be really really tough.
Ryan Purvis 48:31
Yeah. Great. Well, I think it's this time. I think you've been chest.
Tom Arbuthnot 48:36
Yeah, we've been all over the place. I was useful. It's, it's been fun to know then. The topics I enjoy talking about.
Ryan Purvis 48:43
I can hear that I can hear that way people find you.
Tom Arbuthnot 48:47
Yeah, so the blog is Tom talks dot blog, and I focus there on Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365. collab. also super active on LinkedIn and Twitter. LinkedIn is just crazy at the moment. If you in this space, and you're interested in collab and digital transformation and modern work experiences, I highly recommend you get into LinkedIn, some of the conversations that are happening there. It's really good right now.
Ryan Purvis 49:12
Super. Well. Thanks very much for your time today.
Tom Arbuthnot 49:14
Great. Thanks, Ryan. been a pleasure.
Ryan Purvis 49:20
Thank you for listening to today's episode. Hey, the big news app producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW w podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website www digital workspace works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace works and subscribe to newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Principal Solutions Architect, Modality Systems
A Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Master, Tom Arbuthnot is Principal Solutions Architect at Microsoft 365 Collaboration specialists Modality Systems.
Tom stays up to date with industry developments and shares news and his opinions on tomtalks.blog, Microsoft Teams Podcast and email list. He is a regular industry speaker at events around the world.