Using Microsoft Teams to build a thriving workplace community?
Microsoft Teams is a great business communication tool. It virtually connects people in the office and at home. There is a lot of build-in tools that helps employees work efficiently and collaborate online. It is one of the most prominent communication solution for businesses and enterprises.
Communication is key for businesses. Similarly, to build a thriving workplace community, your definitely need to heavily rely on communication. But not the business communication for what Teams is specifically designed for.
Informal communication is limited with Teams
Teams is great to exchange information with each other, but it lacks very important factors of in-person communication:
- Nonverbal communication: As with any virtual meeting platform, Microsoft Teams has very limited ability for the exchange of nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language, which can be important for building rapport and understanding each other’s perspectives.
- Social bonding: In-person meetings allow for a greater sense of social bonding, as they allow for shared experiences and a sense of connection through proximity. This is not possible with a virtual platform like Microsoft Teams.
- Trust building: Face-to-face interactions can be more effective for building trust, as they allow for the exchange of verbal and nonverbal cues. This can be particularly important in building informal connections, as trust is an important foundation for any relationship.
In-person experiences are the heart of the community
In-person experiences allow for the creation of shared memories and a sense of connection through shared experiences. These shared experiences can be an important bond that brings people together and helps to build a sense of community.
Teams is designed to organize and manage business related meetings. It does a fairly good job there but it is way too hard to organize leisure activities with Teams that will build community. Basically, it provides two ways of organizing free-time events:
- You need to create and maintain activity specific channels, like football, boardame, hiking etc. With this method, it is really hard for someone to discover the channels of their likings, and it can easily become overwhelming for employees to keep track of them.
- You can create a calendar event for each event and invite colleagues who you know may be interested. This may seem easy, but it usually won’t work as it is hard to find a time and place that will be acceptable for most of the invitees and result in a failure and a negative feedback.
You can definitely ignore these problems and find a workaround using immersive amounts of human work, rules, planning and more. Relying on Teams for community building may work in the short term, but it will always require excessive amounts of human work to maintain.
Teams is not a good choice according to science
The B=MAP model (aka. Fogg Behavior Model) model can show you why Teams is not the tool you want to use for community building. According to the model, three things need to converge at the same moment for Behavior to happen: Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt.
To make it simple, you need to prompt when people are above the activation threshold line:
What behaviours are desired?
When it comes to community building and especially in-person activities, there are two behaviours you want from employees:
- Participate in leisure activities with colleagues
- Organize in-person activities with colleagues
Motivation is very personal. It includes all hopes, fears, pleasures, pains, social acceptance or rejection a person (unconsciously) expect to face as a result to their behaviour.
There are not many things Teams contribute to people’s motivation when it comes to event organization.
Ability refers to the ease of which a specific behavior can be performed. This aspect is much easier to influence as you can provide a tool that makes behaviour easier to do.
Teams include some tools (like channels, chat, calls and calendar) that are useful for organizing events thus making our desired behaviour easier. Although, Teams is not designed for this purpose, thus it lacks the most useful tools for ad-hoc, leisure activity organization, for the reasons we just explained above.
If someone is motivated enough and able to do something it does not mean he/she will. A prompt - aka. trigger - needs to occure for a behaviour to take place. This trigger can be internal or external, like a message, notification or any association.
The prompt aspect is mandatory but Teams does not provide any well-timed triggers to influence event organization.
As you see, Teams contributes almost noting to achieve the desired behaviours. It provides some tools to influence the ability to make organization and participation somewhat easier, but does not contribute to the motivation or the prompt aspect.
Then what can be done?
Fortunately, all three aspects can be influenced in induce more in-person activities among employees. Here are some tips how to achieve event organization:
- Motivation: Give some rewards for organizers and participants. It can be financial, like compensating a fraction of the costs, but it’s better if you can induce self motivation. Eg. by introducing a healthy competition: announcing the organizer of the month.
- Ability: Create a spot in the office (idea wall), where people can add their activity ideas and subscribe to them. Then organize an event for the popular activities.
- Prompt: Make sure people won’t miss the idea wall, put it in the kitchen, next to the coffee machine. Make sure to ask for some organizers once the organizer of the month is announced.
If you want to skip most of the work with these tips, you might need to consider introducing a specialized tool along with Teams.
Meestory: The proper tool for community building
There is no doubt that Teams is great for business related communication, it is just not the tool for in-person community building. For this purpose, Meestory can be a companion alongside Teams. Using a separate tool for work related communication and another one for leisure activities will help employees maintain healthy work-life balance.
Meestory is a platform for adhoc, leisure activity organization among colleagues. It is designed with behavior experts to make community building a shared experience, without continuous effort from HR.
To give you some insight of Meestory’s secret sauce:
- Motivation: It provides personalized suggestions, involving preferred activities and people. It also rewards event organization by positive feedback from participants. In some cases it also uses the FOMO effect.
- Ability: It makes event organization almost seamless by automatically finding companions for the desired activity. It is as quick and easy as tweeting. This is possible by reducing unnecessary possibilities that otherwise cause mental strain.
- Prompt: It’s smart notification system prompts people at the best time and with personalized content to encourage participation or organization.
There are a lot more hidden psychological and sociological tools that are built into the platform to induce self-sustainable workplace community building. Check out the main features or learn more about the benefits of Meestory
- Teams is great for business communication, but not for in-person community building.
- You’ll need to put huge human effort or use a specialized tool alongside Teams for leisure activity organization.
- A good companion alongside Teams may be Meestory, that is specially designed for this purpose.
Microsoft and Microsoft Teams, including their logos are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
Importance of communication at a company
5 min read ·