Microsoft Teams – the hub for teamwork in Office 365 which keeps all the particular team’s chats, meetings, files, and apps together in one place – is marking its third year anniversary this month. Over the last three year’s since the hub came into being in 2017, it has inspired teams across the world and transformed how they collaborate and work on joint projects.
However, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on where you stand), Microsoft Teams hub is marking this key milestone at a time when the world is grappling with the Coronavirus (or Covid-19) pandemic which has so far infected hundreds of thousands, and led to thousands of deaths.
The pandemic has led to the putting in place of various measures by global organisations – led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – to help stem the spread of the virus. Some of these measures include regular hand washing; keeping a safe social distance from each other; avoiding overcrowded areas; and for companies to encourage and put in place modalities that can enable staff to work remotely without being physically present in their employer’s premises.
And as a tool developed solely to help people collaborate and encourage teamwork, the use of Microsoft Teams has been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent calls for remote working.
Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s Corporate VP for Microsoft 365, admitted that COVID-19 “has impacted the lives of people around the world,” adding he believes “it will be a turning point for the way people will work and learn.”
“Our customers have certainly turned to Teams during this challenging time, and we’ve seen usage spikes in markets most impacted by COVID-19… The last seven days, however, have shown the sheer unprecedented nature of the global demand we’re seeing now for solutions that enable remote work and learning across chat, video and file collaboration, which Teams provides in a single platform. As previously shared, as of March 11, 2020 we counted 32 million daily users of Teams, which was mostly in line with our growth trajectory and projections. As of March 18, 2020, that number has grown by 12 million to 44 million daily users around the world. And we now have 20 customers with over 100,000 users (compared to 14 as previously shared),” disclosed Spataro during an online briefing to mark Microsoft Teams third anniversary on March 18, 2020.
To help control the further spread of the virus, Microsoft asked its 50,000 staff based at Puget Sound not to commute to work. And they were later joined by tens of thousands of the firm’s employees worldwide who are now working remotely.
“It hasn’t been easy. Sometimes it’s been downright disorienting. But our team is still connecting. Still collaborating. Still getting our work done,” noted Spataro in a blog post. “In the face of COVID-19, there are countless stories from customers who are using Teams to connect and thrive in inspiring ways.”
A professor at University of Bologna in Italy shared on Twitter how the school moved 90 percent of courses online to Teams within four days, which is definitely a first in the university’s 900-plus year history. Doctors at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania will use Teams for videoconferencing with patients, especially those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus, as a way to protect both patients and healthcare providers. And the City of Osaka in Japan is using Teams to conduct orientations and trainings for hundreds of new incoming employees in April.
“Stories like these are playing out in countries the world over. We believe that this sudden, globe-spanning move to remote work will be a turning point in how we work and learn. Already, we are seeing how solutions that enable remote work and learning across chat, video, and file collaboration have become central to the way we work. We have seen an unprecedented spike in Teams usage, and now have more than 44 million daily users, a figure that has grown by 12 million in just the last seven days. And those users have generated over 900 million meeting and calling minutes on Teams each day this week,” stated Spataro on the blog post.
“It’s very clear that enabling remote work is more important than ever, and that it will continue to have lasting value beyond the COVID-19 outbreak. We are committed to building the tools that help organizations, teams, and individuals stay productive and connected even when they need to work apart.”
Since its release, Microsoft Teams has been adopted by thousands of organizations, both small and large – including 93 of the Fortune 100. About 20 corporate customers, with more than 100,000 employees, are actively using Teams.