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Microsoft Teams – GIF Wars: Good or Bad for Productivity?

6 Nov 2017 by Laura Zawacki

Following the announcement by Microsoft that Teams will be replacing Skype for Business Online at some point, our marketing team members were enlisted as the company guinea pigs. Our Marketing ‘Team’ was created with various channels to collaborate on campaigns, event planning, and content marketing. We were even able to integrate some other applications we use, like Trello. Almost immediately, we could see the value in Teams, and how it would enable us to work together more efficiently and be more productive. That is…until we discovered the GIFs.
As my teammate and I tested out the Chat feature, we quickly discovered a whole new library of emojis – which seem to have a seasonal flair, from the dancing turkey to the monkey making a snow angel.
After receiving this dashing Daschund strutting down the street in a raincoat GIF:

via GIPHY
Naturally, I replied with a person shaking their head at their cat.

My manager sent me this one of Bob Ross petting a baby deer:

I then had to explain to my UK coworkers who Bob Ross was, and why he’s so well known.
We also spent a few minutes contemplating the meaning of this GIF, with no luck:

“I’ve fallen down a black hole here.”
Did every person on the marketing team spend about 30 minutes looking up and sending GIFs to each other?
Yes.
Were there more important things we could have been working on?
Probably. Absolutely.
Was it a complete and utter waste of our time?
Not necessarily.

Is Teams really going to increase productivity and collaboration?
While there was a slight dip in productivity when we first discovered the GIF integration (powered by Giphy), the novelty wears off pretty quickly, and instead of spending time finding the weirdest GIF possible, we got back to using the platform mostly as intended. However, sometimes there’s no better form of communication than a perfectly chosen GIF or emoji to illustrate your mood/emotion/reaction, especially when coworkers are spread across the globe and working remotely. Let’s be honest, not everyone loves to participate in video calls, but a representative GIF is probably the next best thing.
Also, it’s just fun. When employees are having fun with each other, they’re likely talking more, creating, and brainstorming, which in turn does improve collaboration and productivity.
From what we’ve seen so far, we’re on board the Microsoft Teams train and are excited to see the future development of this platform.