IT strategies for the modern workplace: Insights from Microsoft MVPs and industry experts 

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Get a head start with Microsoft 365 innovations and the evolving IT landscape. Microsoft MVPs, industry experts, and Jeff Teper, President at Microsoft (aka the founder of SharePoint), share their top tips to ensure your IT strategies stay future-proof.

With Microsoft 365, your organization is leveling up productivity like never before. 

It’s no accident. Microsoft is grabbing this opportunity by the horns and shaping the future of work into something more positive. Brace yourself because change is knocking at everyone’s door, and IT teams must rise. 

With the right strategies, you can unlock a workplace that’s all about positive outcomes and conquer digital transformation and change management, while keeping your Microsoft 365 environment secure. 

We brought this up with our friends in the Microsoft community, including the founder of SharePoint, Jeff Teper. It turns out they’ve got their finger on the pulse, too! They gave us their best tips on preparing to adapt to future needs and navigate shifts in the workplace. Keep reading to check out what they had to say!


Strategy #1: Prepare for the future of work 

Jeff Teper (@jeffteper), President of Collaborative Apps & Platforms at Microsoft (aka the father of SharePoint)

Jeff

If we talk about measurable improvements to people’s productivity, job satisfaction, the quality of their work, organization’s effectiveness—it’s going to be AI.

A new and improved SharePoint and Teams, leveraging Viva, getting updated with Copilot in SharePoint, and so on. All of this boils down to one thing: Staying on top of the tools at your disposal to work better than ever

When IT forms an effective strategy to help their team work better by leveraging these innovations, it helps people become more productive and achieve more with less. 

Think about all the work, all the creativity, all the customer engagement, all the product ideation that can now happen because we’re doing some automation of some basic stuff, and that your creativity is unleashed with these tools.

Jeff advises doing the following 3 things:

 
  1. Get your base platform in order: This means getting everyone started with Microsoft Exchange and OneDrive, evangelizing the use of Teams, emphasizing the role of channels over email, moving to the cloud, and ensuring security policies are implemented correctly (ShareGate’s automation can help with this!). 
  2. Write down your vision for the modern way of work: Define the modern way of work specifically for your organization. Things like how many meetings are appropriate, how many documents you need, what’s overhead and what’s not, and so on. This will help provide clarity and a singular vision for your teams. 
  3. Get ahead of AI: Things are moving fast, and Microsoft is disrupting many things in Microsoft 365 to ensure users have a better way to work using AI. Find people in your organization that are motivated to stay ahead of this. And then work with them to determine how AI can help the organization for the better. 

Watch our full interview with Jeff Teper and learn more about how Microsoft is once again gearing up to shape the future of work.


Strategy #2: The evolving role of IT: Adapting to challenges

Karuana Gatimu (@Karuana), Principal Product Manager and Customer Advocacy Lead at Microsoft

Karuana

Make sure you’re having a good time.

That’s what Karuana wants to emphasize to IT professionals adapting to the current changes. 

Focus on the impact and fulfillment you’re getting from your career and strive towards continuous learning to see in which direction you can grow. 

There’s so much to learn, there’s no reason that you can’t reinvent yourself right now. Embracing continuous learning, for the IT professional, is very important.

Microsoft is facilitating IT professionals towards this goal to adapt to this change more effectively. The Microsoft Community Page on LinkedIn and Karuana’s new show with Heather Newman, “Mondays at Microsoft,” are a great way to explore new areas. 

“Having deeper product knowledge is important. I still consider myself a SharePoint subject matter expert, and then I’ve got Teams on top of that. I can go very deep into both. But I understand the rest of the Microsoft offerings, and that will be important for IT professionals in the future: to help your leadership connect the dots, understand how all of this can work, and be that voice of technology implementation.”

One key aspect among all the changes coming to Microsoft that Karuana has emphasized time and time again is “frictionless IT governance.” So we asked her about the idea behind this concept and how it could empower IT moving forward.

 

Watch our full interview with Karuana Gatimu to learn more about how to achieve frictionless IT governance, and what to focus on in the year ahead.


Strategy #3: The future workplace is inclusive

Maarten Eekels (@maarteneekels), Microsoft MVP, Microsoft Regional Director, and CTO of Rapid Circle

Maarten 1

“The future workplace needs to be inclusive. One aspect that results in low attrition rates is feeling heard and included, no matter who you are or where you work from.” 

Maarten says two things need to happen: 

  1. Make sure the tools are there to make this happen. 
  2. Everyone gets maximum value out of these tools. 

“We should focus on the tools to support (inclusivity) and getting the most value out of them.

Microsoft 365 has always been really good at supporting collaboration through email and documents, but now we should support collaboration in meetings and conversations.

How can we make sure someone’s message from the work floor reaches the leadership teams? How can we make sure colleagues joining a meeting from home are included in the discussions? Microsoft 365 has all the capabilities to support those scenarios, but we really have to invest in adopting and embracing those capabilities too.”  


Strategy #4: Navigating the world of hybrid and remote work: Key considerations for IT leaders and teams 

Susan Hanley (@susanhanley), Microsoft Office Apps and Services MVP

Susan

Many companies are adopting a hybrid model that includes remote work to some extent, even if they don’t fully replace physical spaces.

“IT leaders and teams should be thinking about how to effectively embrace the new world of hybrid and remote work.

Susan recommends focusing on:

  • Staying on top of emerging technologies: It’s obviously pretty hard to stay on top of everything. But, it’s still important to research new technologies to find ways to meet evolving needs. 
  • Planning effective governance and education strategies: I’m on too many Teams,” “I can’t find anything”, and “We have too many unmanaged Teams” are common issues Susan sees with companies, especially those that underwent rapid deployment during the pandemic. 

Providing guidance and governance helps users organize and leverage their environment so things can be governed easily and end users can manage their environment more effectively. 

  • Embracing flexibility – but with a focus on communicating expectations: The evolving nature of work will require both leaders and employees to be flexible and embrace change as it arrives at their doorstep. One way to do this is for everyone to establish and clearly communicate expectations. This means working out things like when team members should be in the office vs. working remotely, expectations when reaching out to employees who are working remotely, and so on. 
  • Preparing for Copilot: There are a lot of opportunities for Copilot to enhance everyone’s work. It’s important to set guidelines for its use in the workplace and ensure everyone knows when and how it should be used. 

If Copilot helps a leader craft a message via email or Viva Engage, it’s a good idea to have a “Copilot responsibility contract” that establishes an expectation that the leader has reviewed the outcome of the AI suggestions and effectively authenticated the message before sending.

Clear guidelines for the secure and responsible use of Copilot for every application and scenario will help avoid unnecessary issues down the line. 

IT leaders and employees need to be flexible and adaptable in the face of ongoing changes in the workplace.

By staying up to date on emerging technologies, focusing on governance and education, embracing flexibility and communicating expectations, and having a plan for the proliferation of Copilots, they can prepare their organizations for whatever the future may bring.


Strategy #5: Microsoft-ize for better governance, adoption, and adaptability

Jasper Oosterveld, Modern Workplace Consultant, InSpark and Office Apps & Services MVP

Jasper

The foundation of an organization’s existing workplace should be brought to current Microsoft standards by implementing the latest guidelines and recommendations.

It’s not just about the technical aspects; a successful organization also requires a well-designed governance and adoption strategy.

This involves fostering a culture of collaboration and learning, encouraging employees to embrace new technologies and processes. A strong governance model ensures that resources are optimally allocated, and decision-making is clear and efficient.

“This doesn’t only relate to the technical side of things (for example, identity management or mobile device management) but also the process side of things: the integration of a successful governance and adoption strategy.

Once these are in place, the organization has a solid foundation. Making it easier to adapt to changes such as the latest AI developments.


Strategy #6: Build a knowledgeable and connected IT team

Antje Lamartine (@antjelamartine), Microsoft Office Apps and Services MVP and Lead for Microsoft 365 Adoption & Change Management at IF-Blueprint

Antje

IT leaders play a key role in helping everyone understand how these technologies can be harnessed. 

Stay updated on what’s happening. In the past, maybe there wasn’t this much need to stay updated. But now, because change is happening so fast, it’s crucial for IT teams to invest their time in learning about emerging technologies.

It’s important that IT leaders not only allocate time for learning for their teams, but also actively encourage their team members to reserve time to catch up on new M365 features and developments.

Build your network within and outside your organization. This can help team members stay connected and updated on important user feedback, common pain points, and what people value most in the tools they use. 

The most relevant communication often takes place outside meetings, when people run into each other over lunch or at the water cooler. Having meaningful connections that exist with team members of other departments beyond specific projects, will help IT team members better understand business users’ priorities and challenges. 

This knowledge will be helpful when new features are announced and IT has to decide to activate/deactivate them. In addition, having these connections will allow IT team members to proactively engage business users, get their feedback, and consider it when making decisions regarding new features and changes.

It takes a village to manage Microsoft 365 successfully. Building a community through learning, and creating and maintaining meaningful connections is the base for that.


Strategy #7: Surf the AI wave

Richard Harbridge (@rharbridge), Microsoft MVP and the Chief Technology Officer at 2toLead

Richard 1

Hybrid and remote work has forced many organizations to digitize their working patterns at incredible speeds. 

The digital-first responders who’ve had to tackle this are IT leaders and their teams. While they’ve undoubtedly worked hard to accomplish this, they must pick themselves up again to prepare for another wave that’s now at our doorstep. 

While IT leaders and their teams worked hard to adapt as digital first responders, they are now preparing for the next wave of changes which have the potential to have even more impact.

The forerunner of these changes is employee experiences and the digital systems that support them that relate to AI. IT leaders and teams need to prepare to understand, implement, and integrate AI solutions and AI-powered improvements into many facets for their digital landscapes.”

The challenges ahead

According to Richard, there will be two major challenges ahead:

  • Accelerate transformation: Accelerate the transformation of legacy systems and experiences into those based on modern technology like Microsoft Teams, the Power Platform, Azure, or others.
  • Staying responsible: At the same time as this acceleration takes place, how do we work through the very real challenges of responsible enablement, integration, and empowerment of intelligence systems that are rapidly coming to organizations?

A path forward

Tackling those challenges means treating adoption like a service and focusing on improving digital excellence (including new forms powered by AI) in an ongoing, integrated, and proactive manner rather than taking a fragmented approach. 

“All too often when we catch our breath after a sprint, especially one as challenging as the one we just went through, we recognize the race is accelerating, perhaps in a different direction, and if we don’t work together to go faster, we may fall behind. 

IT leaders and IT teams need to work together with the business to meet the demands of tomorrow, not as supportive behind-the-scenes players but as ones pro-actively working to help lay the responsible and more effective path along with their business leaders.”


Strategy #8: Shape the future of work with ShareGate

Whether it’s following Jeff’s advice and writing down what you think the future of work looks like or Karuana’s advice on implementing a frictionless IT governance plan in Microsoft 365, building an IT strategy that keeps the future in mind will prove worthwhile.  

Here at ShareGate, we’re committed to helping your IT team focus their efforts where it matters most: making Microsoft 365 easy to manage. It’s the true out-of-the-box solution to develop IT strategies focusing on best practices and stay connected with the future.  

If you haven’t used ShareGate yet, what are you waiting for? Request a live demo with our expert team to learn how ShareGate can help your organization manage Microsoft 365.

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