Why Change Management Is Crucial to Office 365 Adoption

by Esther Daga

Each day, we witness firsthand the countless benefits that companies get from migrating to a digital workplace. A successful Office 365 adoption is statistically proven to generate better engagement and productivity among employees. But the path to a digital workplace isn’t as simple as deploying the necessary technology. Change management is an absolute must in order to bring your entire workforce on board with the adoption.

One of the features our clients love most about digital workplaces is how easy they are to implement. A tool like Powell Intranet can even reduce your Office 365 implementation time by 75%. Still, many companies fail to consider the fact that there is both a technology side and a human side to digital workplace adoption. The change management process will help prioritize your employees and increase the rate of adoption as you roll out your new technology.

How does Office 365 change workplace habits?

When introducing Office 365, company management needs to understand that employees’ everyday workflows will change – often drastically. Introducing a new technology means asking employees to modify the core workplace habits that they have spent years developing. First, let’s take a look at a few ways that Office 365 might create change in your organization’s day-to-day routine.

New communication channels

With Office 365, your employees will have an entirely new set of communication channels at their disposal. In addition to email, you’ll find chat-based tools through Microsoft Teams that allow direct messaging, group chats, and video calls. This might sound like a great way for the entire organization to communicate more efficiently – and it is. But if employees aren’t used to using these tools, they might become confused over when to use which method of communication. Some may ignore the new tools entirely.

Overhauled document management

Office 365 comes equipped with SharePoint, a cloud-based document management system that is designed to improve collaboration and help employees more efficiently locate the information they need. However, there’s certainly a learning curve involved with transitioning to a cloud-based document storage system. As part of change management, IT will need to be involved in training employees to use the new intranet to properly store, organize, and access their files.

Access from portable devices

In addition to laptop and desktop computers, Office 365 can also be accessed from portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Your company may decide to leverage this accessibility by introducing new types of devices to be made available for employee use. For those who already struggle with some computer tasks, the prospect of having to learn a new device might seem overwhelming. Even if you decide to purchase smartphones or tablets for employees, there’s no guarantee that they will decide to use them.

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Introduction of the corporate portal

A corporate portal is an interface that employees use to access the digital workplace. Corporate portals are not one-size-fits-all and can be customized to meet your company’s needs, displaying specific types of information and granting quick access to the tools your employees use most frequently. Nevertheless, in order to reap the benefits, employees must take the initiative of visiting the corporate portal as a regular part of their workflow.

Better automation features

Your employees might not even know it, but many parts of their workflow could be automated for better efficiency and to free up their time for more important tasks. Power Automate allows you to build no-code workflows across Microsoft Forms, SharePoint, Outlook, Planner, and Teams. However, taking advantage of automation requires the input and collaboration of employees to identify which workflows can be automated and come up with the flow itself.

Change mindset, not just technology

Now that we’ve seen how the introduction of Office 365 can disrupt daily workflows, one common theme is clear: while you can easily present a new technology to your employees, it’s an entirely different challenge to guarantee its use. This is where change management comes into play. The change management process involves coming up with a strategy to shift employees’ mindset towards acceptance and adoption of new technology. Simply introducing Office 365 as a new digital workplace is far from enough.

During change management, you’ll likely find that some employees are more receptive than others to new digital tools and processes. The ability to adapt to new technologies in the workplace is often referred to as digital dexterity. It’s estimated that fewer than one in ten employees exhibit behaviors associated with high levels of digital dexterity. But despite being in the minority, these employees drive the majority of digital workplace initiatives. You’ll find that these employees are an invaluable resource during the change management process.

Tips for change management during Office 365 adoption

So how do you go about implementing a successful change management strategy during Office 365 adoption? Follow these steps for better oversight and company-wide collaboration.

Start with education and understanding

Before Office 365 is implemented, your employees should be familiar with the basic concept of the platform and what it can do. This can be done through training materials and general communication from change management leadership. Only after employees understand the abilities and limitations of Office 365 can they start to think about how the technology could be applied to their specific role.

Generate a desire for adoption

Once employees understand the capabilities of Office 365, it’s time to start talking about how they might be able to use the technology to improve their daily workflow. Workshops are a great setting in which to discuss the possibilities and gather valuable input and data. Ask employees about the problems they currently face in their day-to-day activities, then work together to figure out how Office 365 can help solve those problems.

Framing new technology in this way is essential as it gives employees a “why”: a logical reason why Office 365 should be adopted. Generating desire among the workforce will increase the rate of adoption and decrease the average amount of times it takes employees to acclimate.

Provide adequate training and support

After you’ve established new workflows for employees after Office 365 adoption, it’s the responsibility of company leadership to ensure they have adequate training to learn how to perform those workflows. Inadequate training can mean that employees actually take longer to complete their tasks, decreasing efficiency, or grow frustrated and decide to give up on the technology entirely.

Ongoing support is just as important. After initial training, employees will continue to have questions as long as the technology is in use. Make sure you have a dedicated team on hand to provide this support. Just as importantly, communicate this information to employees so they know where to go if they have a question or problem.

Continue to follow up and reevaluate

Contrary to what you might think, change management isn’t a linear process that ends once your company has successfully adopted Office 365. Ongoing management is a necessity for the continued success of a digital workplace. As new technologies are rolled out, and new employees join the company, you’ll need to continue providing training materials and support. Furthermore, you should keep evaluating the success of your digital workplace initiative to see what improvements can be made.

Change management with an external partner

Managing Office 365 adoption internally isn’t always possible for companies that don’t necessarily have the resources or expertise to provide adequate ongoing support. Powell Software solutions have helped more than 1,500,000 employees successfully adopt Office 365.


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