Helping employees with cultural change

Change management for introducing Microsoft 365

The benefits of working with Microsoft 365 are well known. But how can companies tap into the potential it offers when their employees are on different pages? When it comes to daily working life, it soon becomes clear that introducing new means of communication is not only a technical issue.

Andreas Heer, images from Adobe Stock, 13 August 2021.

In every company, there are two types of person. One can hardly wait until the new features announced are available on their company computer. They dive in head first, and enthusiastically tell colleagues about the “wonderful opportunities” the new features offer.The other kind of person, meanwhile, struggles to come to terms with the changes. They try to orientate themselves and write down all the steps to follow. If they don’t make progress, they ask a colleague for help, but this takes effort every time.

So on the one hand, there’s curiosity and a desire to discover new things; on the other, a fear of change and being overwhelmed. Of course, we’re talking about two stereotypes here. But they illustrate the range of employees that project managers encounter when introducing a new work tool like Microsoft 365. And it also shows that this kind of undertaking is less of a technical matter, and more of a cultural one. In fact, it’s nothing less than an upheaval for business communications. Therefore, well thought-out change management is crucial.

Tools alone are useless

The advantages of cloud-based workplaces with Microsoft 365 are well established: central document storage facilitates collaboration, and with e-mail, chat and online meetings, there are suitable communication channels for every situation. But these tools alone offer few advantages unless instructions are provided too. The people mentioned above would use the same tools in completely different ways, or not even use them at all.

When there are no instructions or demonstrations of how to use something, the following can happen: the first person creates online documents and sends the links to them in the team chat. The second person responds by e-mail, attaching the document and indicating that they’ve made changes in red. This may sound like an exaggerated stereotype, but it does happen in day-to-day working life. And it completely ruins the potential to gain the productivity and efficiency that Microsoft 365 offers, not to mention more advanced topics like data storage and document classification.

Key questions about modern working methods

To reap the benefits, you need a strategy for the introduction of the tools. This includes guidelines on how to use the tools and guidance to introduce employees with varying levels of knowledge to the new opportunities. For example, curious employees can help guide those who are fearful. The strategy must address the following questions so that the new way of working can be introduced and used by the whole company.

  •  Where are we now? How do we use Microsoft 365 right now?
  • How do we find out where individual employees are at?
  • What steps should we take to plan the introduction?
  • How can we communicate the planned changes?
  • Do we need to launch pilot projects for individual stages using a voluntary group of early adopters?
  • What tools will we put in place to help employees?
  • Where will employees get support if they have questions?
  • What goals and milestones do we want to reach?


Incidentally, when reading about the people mentioned at the beginning, did you automatically think of younger people as the “curious” ones and older employees as the ones “being overwhelmed”? If so, you may have fallen into the bias trap. Younger people do tend to have less fear when it comes to technology, because they’ve grown up with smartphones and chat features. But at the end of the day, how employees deal with new technology is a question of their own “digital maturity” – and this is a factor that needs to be taken into account when introducing Microsoft 365.

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