Five things you should know about Microsoft Teams Usage

Key insights from SWOOP Analytics’ 2021 MicrosoftTeams Benchmarking Report

Back and forth chat messages, hundreds of channels, or hours spent in meetings – how have organizations been using Microsoft Teams over the past year? This is the question that the SWOOP Analytics’ 2021 Microsoft Teams Benchmarking Report explores, drawing from the data of almost 200 organisations on the platform.


In the time since the inaugural report, the COVID pandemic forced most companies to go remote, leading to a massive spike in the adoption of digital workplace tools. Microsoft Teams was one of the big winners, experiencing a 600% increase in usage between November 2019 and November 2020, and becoming the fastest growing Microsoft application in the company’s history! SWOOP Analytics’ latest report provides insights into just how organisations leveraged Microsoft Teams, and shares key lessons from those making the most of what it has to offer.


Through a combination of algorithms and research on high-performing teams, SWOOP Analytics studied interactions across 100 000 MicrosoftTeams sites, and identified 273 superteams that are achieving high levels of efficiency and collaboration on the platform. We’re proud to say that OrangeTrail is named as a world leader in Microsoft Teams usage, with four Teams sites listed amongst the most productive and responsive!

So, what can we learn from all this data?


1. Most teams aren’t taking full advantage of Microsoft Teams.

The pandemic may have accelerated the adoption of Microsoft Teams, but most teams aren’t reaping all the benefits that the platform has to offer. The SWOOP Analytics report reveals that 97 percent of teams are under-utilizing digital teaming features such as channels, notes, and file sharing. The features that are experiencing heavy usage are telephony services like calls, chat messaging, and meetings, suggesting that there’s still a huge opportunity for many teams to develop the collaboration and communication skills that’ll help them gain real business value from the platform.

2. Chat beats email when it comes to comms, but it’s not great for work.

More and more people are using chat instead of email for internal communication. However, chat messages hinder knowledge sharing across organisations because they mostly happen one-on-one, leaving many people out of important project-related discussions. A better strategy is to use the chat function strictly for personal messages, and discuss work-related issues in dedicated Teams channels. At OrangeTrail, this takes the form of Working Out Loud (WOL) to ensure that everyone has access to project information and developments as they happen.


3. Self-directed teams are on the rise.

The inaugural 2020 benchmarking report identified four team types based on academic research into high-performing teams – self-directed teams, single leader teams, communities, and forums. Of these four, self-directed teams have emerged as the aspirational team type. These are teams in which all members are connected and active, there is little to no key player dependency (KPD), and there’s a high percentage of reciprocated interactions. Self-directed teams are more mature in their use of the Microsoft Teams platform, and, therefore, more productive. And the numbers suggest that more and more teams are heading this way – 37% of the 2,727 meaningfully active teams analysed in the report are self-directed, compared to 19% in 2020. Of the 273 elite super teams identified, 96% are classified as self-directed.


4. Ten could be the magic team number.

Is there an optimal team size? It seems so. While the average size amongst the active teams analysed was 24.73, the shortlisted elite super teams had an average of 6.3 active members, with no team exceeding 15 members. And, when comparing team performance to team size, SWOOP Analytics found that performance decreased as the number of team members increased. Whether larger digital teams can be as effective as their smaller counterparts is still up for debate, but, based on their research and findings, SWOOP’s experts recommend capping the team size at ten members.


5. Microsoft Teams is not yet the work hub that it aspires to be.

Since its release in 2017, Microsoft Teams has been marketed as a workplace hub that brings together all the conversations, content, and tools required for collaboration. To get a sense of how well the platform is living up to this vision, SWOOP Analytics looked at how many teams have added application tabs to their Teams channels, and what those tabs are. Of the 2,727 active teams analysed, only a third had added application tabs, indicating that the platform still has a way to go before it’s considered the digital hub for all things work related. And as for what tabs teams prefer, the top five places went to OneNote, Planner and To-Do, website tabs, Excel, and SharePoint. The report also notes that there’s an increasing number of non-Microsoft 365 application tabs, and this implies that people are gradually moving towards using the Teams platform as a hub. For more interesting insights, check out the full SWOOP Analytics’ 2021 Microsoft Teams Benchmarking Report.

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