The way we work has changed dramatically in the last decade.
A shift away from fixed desks to hotdesking, remote working and co-working has been a key driver of the developments that allow employees to work from anywhere. IT services have evolved to deliver secure, performant access to information, frequently moving information to the cloud.
Whilst more applicable to smaller companies than enterprises, services such as Dropbox and Box started to move information away from file servers and into shared cloud storage. Cloud storage offered the advantages of being accessible from anywhere and syncing to devices to allow offline access. More importantly these services allowed easy collaboration, from sharing files to collaborative editing and commenting.
Remote working required new ways of communicating. Again, frequently driven by consumer adoption first, technologies like VOIP delivered telephony to the desktop independent of location. Unified Communications then linked telephony and email. Consumer chat services led to instant messaging products like Slack that provided always-on team communications.
When everyone in an organisation is potentially a remote worker and information is no longer siloed by location, staff too start to become a global resource, able to form teams across geographic boundaries to bring together the most appropriate staff for a project.
Microsoft’s products have always been central to providing these services but finally these many disparate technologies have been brought together in one platform – Microsoft Teams. Under the hood many of the technologies are the same. Office 365 Groups provide the organisational structure, to which SharePoint sites, OneDrive storage locations, Exchange Email, Skype For Business unified communications have been linked, all under the unified Teams interface. Data is stored and protected in the Azure environment, and authentication and security are provided by Active Directory.
Microsoft Teams has also fully embraced inter-organisation collaboration. Users from one organisation can be invited as guests into another organisation. External users can participate in Teams chat, make video calls and access files. The same information security and data governance policies can be applied to internal and external users.
For design and construction projects, which have always required collaborative working and multiple stakeholders, the benefits of utilising Microsoft’s cloud based collaborative tools are manifold and considerable with huge potential for improved workflow and reduced risk. And now other cloud-based software like Atvero can be seamlessly plugged into Microsoft SharePoint Online tools to further support collaborative working.