Reaching for a new level of collaboration
Tony’s Chocolonely came together as a six-person team. An early version of Skype for Business, one of the first Microsoft solutions the company used, and mobile phones supported the team as it connected with a small team on the ground in West Africa. But as the company expanded to sales in other countries, those methods couldn’t match the convenience of emerging collaboration tools. The team tried third-party messaging apps, but the constant exposure to instant messaging contradicted the work-life balance that Tony’s strives to provide its workers. The company also tried an online collaboration platform, but it quickly surpassed the trial license limit. Tony’s decided that the cost outweighed the benefits—committing to an enterprise license would have meant the expense of another software subscription minus the interoperability with the Microsoft 365 tools that were popular at the company. And using multiple operating systems in a cloud environment meant that employees had to sign in via Remote Desktop Protocol sessions.
There was a better solution: upgrading to Windows 10, moving company data to Microsoft SharePoint, and managing devices with Microsoft Intune and mobile device management. Tony’s Chocolonely capped its modernization by rolling out Teams, a part of the company’s Microsoft 365 subscription. Staff members can apply “quiet hours” availability settings in Teams so they’re not inundated with updates at all hours, unlike their experiences with the previous solution.
And the interoperability of Microsoft 365 removes friction from communications on multiple levels, from file sharing to informal chats that reduce email volumes. For example, the Tony’s team now builds its annual report with Teams, easily sharing multiple source documents while knowing that team members are always working with the most current versions. As with every other aspect of work life for Tony’s employees, that strategy is carefully aligned with company values. “We use the chat feature in Teams to build the personal relationships we want to encourage,” says Ursem. “Email is more formal, more time-consuming. Chat lends itself to the shared humor and quick check-ins that naturally fit our culture and make us more efficient.”
With Teams, Tony’s team members have an informal, easy way to collaborate on projects with each other and with suppliers by using Teams Rooms. When he requires collaboration, van Doorn creates projects in Teams with each workstream as its own channel. “Using Teams channels for project workstreams gives us easy visibility into progress,” he says. “And because we set up our suppliers in Teams, it’s easy to get fast answers from them when we run into blocking issues on projects.”