Microsoft Teams – Top 5 Good, Guide and Gotcha points.
Working effectively requires good interaction and connection to your business’ information, and your colleagues, whether you’re working from the Office, Home, or out and about. Microsoft Teams is an incredible tool to help you stay connected to everything and everyone you need.
Confused about where to start with Teams? Here’s some things to think about…
Need 5 reasons to use Teams? Here you go.
1: It’s more than chat and Instant Messages!
Use the Chat feature to have 1:1 and Group conversations with your colleagues to get immediate responses and make quick decisions… but you can also share files, co-edit them, escalate the chat to a call or video meeting or schedule a meeting at a time that works for everyone. All from within the Teams experience.
2: Improve meetings and keep everything together.
Once you’ve scheduled your meeting, you can begin chatting with attendees and discussing key points, even before the meeting starts. You can also circulate content by sharing agenda points, documents or links to important information.
During the meeting, you can record the call, video conference or screenshare. It’ll get saved to your Microsoft Stream channel for future reference.
After your meeting, you can distribute any action points and all the pre, during and post meeting chat, documents and records are all available to refer back to at any point… just pop back to the meeting in your Teams Calendar.
3: It’s better than Email.
Email is terrible for discussion… as a rule, Email is for Confirmation not Conversation.
We’ve all been there… you send out a topic for discussion, copy in a bunch of colleagues, you get multiple separate replies in no logical order. It’s even worse if you share a document – attaching it to an email and then receiving multiple new versions you need to review and compare to create your final version. Or, you get copied in to a ‘reply all’ thread that you don’t need to see and can’t turn off.
Teams chat keeps your conversations in a structured way. See everyone’s availability and current status. Get quick replies, refer back to previous conversations or hide conversations that aren’t relevant anymore. Conversation history is kept forever, so you can always go back to it.
4: Better collaboration.
Working on a document with your colleagues? Share it via teams and you can edit it together, all at the same time, without leaving the Teams app. MS Office web apps are integrated into teams so you can quickly open the shared docs, edit them, see what your colleagues are changing, add comments and all agree when it’s done. No more unnecessary, multiple versions or copies flying around the email ether.
5: It’s available everywhere!
Stay connected and in sync with Teams web experience, Desktop and Mobile apps. Each experience stays up to date, so you can switch devices and carry on where you left off. Whether at your desk or on the move, you’re always connected.
Get Going Guide
Need to know where to start? Here’s 5 quick start points.
1: Install it and login… all of you!
You can access and install the Teams app from the Office 365 web portal. Download it to your desktop or mobile device, login and start chatting. You can search for colleagues and begin a conversation right away.
To get the best from it, have everyone in the company use it. If you’re all logged in, then you’re all available – it’s like all being in the same virtual office.
2: Manage your status
Your current status will stay in sync with your calendar. If you’ve got a meeting booked in, or Out Of Office switched on, your teams status will tell your colleagues. You can also over-ride this by switching to ‘Available’ when you are, or ‘Do Not Disturb’, when you’re not. You can even set a current location or situation headline and put a time limit on it… EG: set ‘Out to lunch’ for the next hour.
3: Liven things up
Use images, emojis and Giphys to add context to the conversation or get a message across in a quick and simple way.
4: Chat conversations are private
Only the people in the start of the conversation can look back through the history. If you add someone else to the discussion, that creates a new private chat room thread. The new member can’t see what you were talking about previously.
5: Use Meetings for context
Each ad hoc chat, whether 1:1 or a group chat, is associated only with the members of the chat. If you need to tie a conversation to a specific subject, create a meeting to keep the shared information and discussion together to reference later.
All the points above refer to ad hoc chat and meetings… enough to get you started. What about setting up Teams and Channels? Is there anything you need to be considering?
1: Teams and Channels vs Chat
Teams can be created for core groups or subjects within the business. Your existing distribution lists might provide good inspiration for this, but thought is required!
Each new Team creates a SharePoint site with associated document storage and more.
Channels can form mini threads for sub-categories, and associated subjects within each team, each channel will create a sub-folder in the Team files area.
Channels are public to the team. Everyone in the team, and anyone who later joins, can see ALL the Team’s documents, what’s been shared and the history of the conversation.
More ‘Apps’ are available for Team Channels. Both Team Channels and Chat conversations support tabs for additional content, but a channel will have a wider variety of applications, such as planner and many other connectors, bots and teams meeting recorded as video in Stream.
2: Permissions and Settings
By Default, anyone in your company can create a new ‘Team’ or ‘Channel’. We don’t recommend this. It’s best to give careful thought and consideration to your Teams structure and strategy to avoid core company information ending up scattered across your Teams. These default permissions can and should be considered and customised to ensure your carefully thought out strategy is effectively deployed and adhered to.
3: Notifications and Announcements
Users are not, by default, sent alerts and notification ‘pings’ for new messages and announcements in their Team Channels. They can, however, always go back to view previous ones. Need to share news or a post with your Team? Create a message or Announcement in that Team channel conversation… like CCing people into an email. They’ll hear about it and they can follow the conversation.
If you need action to follow your announcement, then better to send a message to a specific 1:1 or group chat.
4: Beware Guest Access
Using Teams to collaborate with external users and guests can be a great way to collaborate with 3rd parties. Beware though, that enabling this can open up some potential security holes. Remember, once you grant a user access to a Team, or even Channel, they can see EVERYTHING that has previously been shared within that team.
Without careful planning, you can also end up with any employee being able to share anything with anyone… useful but potentially dangerous.
5: Plan carefully!
Start simple – install Teams and start chatting and having meetings. But Think carefully about setup of actual Teams and Channel spaces. Potentially turn off the capability for employees to create Teams initially, while you create your plan and configure your customised permissions and settings.
Confused? Don’t worry!
we can help with everything from planning and custom configuration, installation and support, through to end user training and customised quick start guides to match your business policies.
Originally published in October 2014. Updated February 2021.Between early 2010 and mid 2014, I completed a management buyout and the simultaneous acquisition of one of our largest competitors to create one of the UK's leading independent mobile telecoms providers. As...
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