DEV Community

Jaime López
Jaime López

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Do you have Office 365 and your teams still work like this?

My name is Jaime López and I have been working as a developer and architect for more than 20 years. If you like this article click on the heart, if you like the Substack subscribe, and if you want to enrich the content add comments.

The times we live in are making the traditional structure of companies evolve from an individual, and isolated effort to teamwork where relationships are never been seen before are established. In this article, I classify how teams work within a company and how it is related to SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams starting from a chaotic way of working to a possible future in a short time.

Teamwork occurs when a group of people works together toward a common goal or purpose. Forming a team involves bringing people together, while teamwork is allowing those people to use their different skills, values, and beliefs to accomplish something they could not do alone.


This is the lowest level of all in which there is no form of teamwork in the company. The tools used have been the employees' own decisions and, usually, are external to the company, with several of them being used in the same work team for similar functionalities. Also, other teams will use different tools for the same objective. Most of the time, the tools are not homologated by the company and do not have an adequate level of security for sharing and consuming content.

In short, chaos and disorder reign among a heterogeneous set of technologies and confusing manual processes. For example, Trello, Microsoft To Do, a text document, or a sheet of paper may be the choice among the different teams.

Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash


At this level, teams work on common digital support. Let's say that the teams are concentrated in a single space, they are often mixed, they share access to most of the information, and security is managed by the IT team. At the same time, external tools will be used to supplement the missing functionalities as in the case of the previous level. However, the information worked on in the teams will be located within the company's scope, i.e. it is the beginning of business intelligence.

The most straightforward case is the use of shared network folders, i.e. a shared remote resource in the organization that can be used in the same way as the folders on your computer. The functionalities available are those provided by the operating system and are not oriented to teamwork.

There may be variants such as having team-specific folders, although their management, access, and permissions are the responsibility of the IT team.

Photo by Mourizal Zativa on Unsplash


At this level, teams work in isolation from the rest of the teams and have their own space in which they share and collaborate performing the tasks that carry out the established objectives. In addition, teams acquire more identity within the organization and work on more than one project at a time. Another element to highlight is the autonomy that teams acquire in membership management, i.e., the team decides who its members are along with the role they occupy: consumer, contributor, or an administrator.

If we think about how to implement the functionalities described in the previous paragraph, SharePoint is the tool that provides all of them and many more. SharePoint is based on sites that contain lists and libraries to store data and documentation. Each team will have its site to work in isolation from the rest of the teams - each team is only aware of its site - and only its members will have access to it.

The step the organization takes at this level means moving to applications and technologies dedicated to meeting the needs of teams and employees. It is an important change as it raises awareness of the importance of equipping employees with the right tools and of continuing to grow in enterprise knowledge management.

Photo by Julia Cheperis on Unsplash

Single entry

At this level, teams become more complex due to the increased complexity of their tasks and activities. Teams work on several related projects at the same time and want to learn from the way other teams work. Team members must establish rules about private information concerning the team itself, and public information exposed to the rest of the company (we could continue with information exposed to external users and even to anonymous users).

The creation of a single entry point for all employees where content is based on team membership simplifies access and management of team spaces. In addition, this entry point will display personalized information, i.e. each team/member will see information that pertains to him/her and discards information that belongs to other teams. Administrators will have to add a new role in case they want to expose information to other teams, we can call it readers.

In SharePoint Online there are site collections to meet the needs of teams in terms of information management, document management, and member management. In addition, we can set up Hub sites that logically group all these site collections. The Hub site will be the gateway for all teams and will display information and access depending on the membership of the different teams/site collections.

SharePoint Online is focused on a web page experience as that is how it is built. However, if our option is to keep an experience clinging to the computer desktop we can use Microsoft Teams. In this case, the entry point for all employees is the tool itself and the application configuration setup. The left side menu allows us to access the hierarchical structure of teams and channels to access work teams and set an additional level of depth.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Emerging teams

Until now, we have seen how the evolution of teams has focused on providing an isolated, independent and secure space for its members to be autonomous in their management. In the previous stage, the organization provides an access point for employees to continue working efficiently even if they belong to multiple teams at the same time.

Naturally, we see information and experiences being shared with others from different fields and different companies. It seems strange and counterintuitive, but learning how other teams work allows us to apply techniques that would take much longer to devise and see if they work. In short, learning from the mistakes and successes of others makes us more effective in less time.

The emergence of Viva Engage as an enterprise social network allows employees to expose ideas, experiences, and knowledge to generate spaces for debate and discussion, creating new teams of collaborators focused on a specific topic that improves the processes, activities, or tasks of the company. It is a way in which new teamworks can emerge and help the organization to continue growing. The heterogeneity of these new teams adds points of view from different fields that can contribute new ideas outside the closed scope of other classic teamworks.

Microsoft announced at Ignite 2022 the creation of Microsoft Places as the hybrid work management tool for both employees and the company. Employees will be able to gain insight into their teammates and coordinate with them to improve their performance. On the other hand, the company can obtain useful information about the use of its offices and facilities to adapt to the needs of its employees and reduce costs.

Photo by Vlad Hilitanu on Unsplash

Team intelligence

At this point, we can only imagine new forms of collaboration between employees and projects carried out in organizations. The way forward will undoubtedly be related to Artificial Intelligence (AI), incorporating a new element into teams that allows them to perform mechanical and tedious work will allow employees to perform higher quality work and increase productivity. Also, AI will serve to elevate the thinking and ideas of employees and come up with more accurate solutions. In the end, Artificial Intelligence is another tool that will accompany us throughout our lives.

This path will also be related to other technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and others, belonging to the Metaverse as a whole. It is evident that people are social beings and we are looking for more and more ways of relationships. We are still at the beginning of the development of Metaverse capabilities and their use, we will have to see how it will affect our lives and, consequently, in the creation of teamworks in organizations.

Photo by Omar Albeik on Unsplash


This article was written as a result of my experience with companies that wanted to improve the way their employees work. Many of them are at the levels described at the beginning and I have been involved in the preparation and execution to reach more advanced levels.

There is no single model that works for all organizations, as it depends on several factors: culture, location and number of employees, generations of people living together (Gen Z, Millenials, Boomers, etc.), type of company, etc. However, all of them need spaces for their employees to work efficiently and effectively, providing them with the right tools to carry out their day-to-day activities.

SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, and Viva Engage are a set of tools in Microsoft 365. We cannot forget the other applications within Viva such as Topics, Learning, or Connections, nor the classic applications such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, pillars of the effective work of employees.

Don't forget to share the article with your friends and colleagues if you find it interesting, click on the heart if you like it, or click on the comments to share what you think of the article, if you would add more or if you want to clarify any of them.

Top comments (0)