With Microsoft Working from Home, Teams Will be in the Spotlight
In the world of software development, dogfooding is the act of using your own software. For Microsoft, this is done as a sign of trust because if they can use it for their multi-billion-dollar operation, every other company should be able to as well.
Because of COVID-19, Microsoft is asking all of its Seattle-based employees to work from home. While we don’t know the exact number of users that will now be working remotely, it’s somewhere around the 50,000 mark.
What this means is that the company is going all-in on the remote work scenario and has the trust that its suite of productivity tools will allow everyone to knock out their tasks when away from the office. While this appears to be an obvious statement on the surface, this will be a sustained test of long-term off-site productivity at a significant scale.
Yes, Microsoft has had days where snow has closed offices or other events have temporarily caused employees to not come into the company’s offices but this is the first time that the offsite activity will be in the weeks’ timeframe, not days.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
With 10s of thousands of employees working offsite for weeks, this will be an excellent time for Microsoft to fully evaluate all the capabilities of Teams. Because in this scenario, if a feature or functionality is not working well, there is no “we can talk about it tomorrow in the Office” – everything remote, means everything, with no exceptions.
Microsoft has already started talking about how this remote workforce will impact operations and has provided guidance to its employees but what I hope we see is that following this event, a breakdown of what the company has learned will be shared. We know that the basics are already covered but once this experience is behind the leadership of Microsoft, there will be a unique opportunity to provide insight about what worked, what didn’t, and how the next time it can improve.
And the conversations are already starting on Twitter about how Microsoft can, and likely will improve Teams, following the return to the office. One such feature that needs to be added is a way for someone who has a question or needs to speak up, to signal this without having to blurt out randomly to gain the attention of the call.
During the remote work timeframe, the infrastructure will also be put to the test. But this is less likely to fail from the increased load as Microsoft has been using the service for more than three years and prior to that Skype for Business was built to scale with the increased load as well. Still, with the sustained load over a period of weeks, it will be a good test for the backbone of Teams.
The long-term benefit from the work-from-home month is that those working on Teams will be using the application to its fullest capacity. If there were any features that were missing that would make this experience easier, they will quickly be uncovered and hopefully added to the Office suite in the near future.