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Last updated on: May 8, 2020  

Getting Started with Microsoft Teams - Key Features

Considering Microsoft Teams for Your Organization’s Remote Needs? Learn More About What Teams Has to Offer

Across the country, organizations large and small are faced with the need to transition their employees to working remotely during COVID-19!

Some businesses are already accustomed to at least part of their workforce telecommuting. But for many organizations, this is unfamiliar territory. There’s a lot to manage, and the prospect of getting so many employees set up to work from home can be daunting.

But when it comes to making sure your employees can access the documents they need and collaborate on essential projects from home, there’s a solution that’s easy to implement: Microsoft Teams.


Microsoft Teams is Easy to Implement

With Microsoft Teams, employees can see who’s online, share project updates, track the progress of other team members, and quickly meet face-to-face via video chat.

Getting started with Microsoft Teams is easier than you think. Below, we’ve put together an overview of what Microsoft Teams has to offer, including:


Schedule meetings
Chat functionality
Running video meetings
Teams channels

...and much more--as well as best practices for getting started.


If you need help with transitioning to Microsoft Teams, ABComputer is here to assist you. We can even offer your organization a free six-month trial of Teams. To learn more about how JourneyTEAM can help, click here.


Microsoft Teams: The Solution for Working Remotely

This first week of April 2020 marks the three-year anniversary of Microsoft Teams. 93 of the Fortune 100 companies are using Teams, and the adoption rate has had big impact. Teams is one of the most widely adopted products in Microsoft history, with over 650 organizations utilizing Teams for 10,000 or more internal users.

Microsoft Teams is just one aspect of the Office 365 ecosystem, and integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft 365 products, including:


Office 365
Dynamics 365 CRM
Dynamics 365 ERP

...and more

With Microsoft 365, your organization’s team members already have access to a range of collaborative functionality. For example, team members can share documents via OneDrive, keep up with task management via Microsoft To Do, and so on.


Next-Level Capabilities for Working Remotely

Microsoft Teams takes this ability to collaborate to the next level, enabling employees to communicate one on one via chat and face-to-face video conference calls as well as via one-time, ad-hoc group conversations. Additionally, Teams makes it easy for employees working on long term projects to keep up with each other’s progress, share information as needed, and meet to discuss project details.

As an aside, it’s important to understand that Office 365 allows any user to provision a collaborative group -- although users sometimes don’t realize that they’re doing so. As an example, a user might open Planner and choose to create a new Plan, which they only intend to use for their own task planning. By default, however, Office 365 will also create a number of connected instantiations of Forms, OneNote, Power BI, and SharePoint. This can quickly get messy, which is why it’s essential to have an IT professional configure Office 365 to limit these sorts of automatic processes. This will keep things neat and organized within 365 as your organization’s employees begin working and collaborating remotely.


Collaboration Groups

At the center of Microsoft Teams is the concept of an Office 365 Group.

Regardless of its size, your organization likely already contains a number of collaborative internal groups. These can be departmental divisions, collaborative project-based groups, communities of practice, committees, workspaces, social groups, and more. While all of these groups share one feature -- they all involve groups of people who communicate regularly -- they’re also fundamentally different. Your organization is bound to view internal departmental divisions and social groups differently, for example.

Groups within Office 365 are security groups, meaning that members have access to the corresponding group’s planner, document storage, reporting dashboard, and so on. When forming collaborative groups within Office 365 and Teams, it’s important to keep this in mind, as you’ll want to delimit the access and sharing capabilities of a particular group’s members based on that group’s function within your organization.


The Teams Client

Microsoft Teams is available for desktop, mobile, and via web browser. The desktop and web versions are practically identical, and while the mobile version is obviously more compact, it’s still extremely useful. Particularly for employees working from home and dealing with potential distractions, having Teams installed on their mobile phone allows them to get instant notifications whenever an important conversation is taking place. This gives them the opportunity to jump in as needed, even if they’re not in front of their computer.

When you first log into the Teams client, you’ll see a variety of menu options on the sidebar, including Activity, Chat, Teams, Calendar, Calls, and Files. By clicking the Calendar icon, you can immediately see what’s on your calendar for the week. In the top-right corner of the Teams screen, you can click your profile icon, select Set Status Message, and update your status on the fly. This lets other Teams members know what you’re up to. In a meeting? Set your status to ensure that you’re not interrupted.


Scheduling Meetings in Teams

Scheduling a meeting in Teams is quick and intuitive.

From within the Calendar view in Teams, click the time when you’d like to schedule a meeting. On the New Meeting screen, enter the meeting details, including the meeting name, time, length, and other details.

In the Attendees box, you can either type the names of individual team members or the name of an entire group within Office 365. As you start typing, Teams suggests team members automatically, making it easy to invite the right people to your meeting. In the Channels box, you can add the meeting to the corresponding Teams Channel. More on this below.

Not sure if your invitees are available at the right time? Teams makes it easy to get an overview of their availability. At the top of the New Meeting screen, click Scheduling Assistant. Using the Attendees details you just entered, Teams will provide you with an overview of your prospective invitees’ schedules and availability. If you notice that some attendees aren’t available at the proposed time, you can click back to the new Meeting screen and adjust the time as needed.

When you’re ready to invite everyone to the meeting, click Send. Attendees will immediately receive an invite via Microsoft Exchange.

Note that it’s also possible to schedule Teams meetings via your Outlook calendar. When creating a meeting in Outlook, simply click the Teams Meeting button in the top ribbon to insert a Teams Meeting invite link.


Chatting with Microsoft Teams

Before Microsoft Teams, employees often struggled to keep track of ongoing chat conversations across multiple chat clients such as Hangouts, Skype, or text messages. But with Teams, all of your chat conversations are in one easy-to-access place.

Within the Teams window, click the Chat icon in the left-hand menu bar. This will display all of your chats, organized by most recent. To find a particular conversation, you can also click Contacts and scroll through a list of chats organized alphabetically by contact. Need to keep an important conversation handy? Simply pin the conversation, and it will stay at the top of your chat list. Chat conversations are stored indefinitely, making it easy to scroll up or search within a conversation as needed.


A Host of Useful Chat Features

Teams Chat also includes a host of useful features that are missing from third party chat clients. Want to quickly access an overview of the files you’ve shared with a particular contact? Simply click the Files option at the top of the Chat window. Not sure where a contact sits within your organization’s structure? Click the Organization button to easily see who they report to within your organization and who reports to them. Want a quick overview of your activity with a particular contact? Just click the Activity button at the top of the Chat window.

In addition to sending standard messages within Chat, you also have the option of marking a conversation as Urgent, bringing it to another team member’s attention immediately via both a Teams notification as well as an email notification.

Need to share a file via Chat? When you drag and drop a file into a Teams Chat window, it’s uploaded directly to your personal OneDrive. Teams then provides your team member with a link to this file, making it easy for them to access and download the file as needed.

Need to start a group chat? Simply click New Chat and type in the names of the team members you’d like to chat with. This makes it easy to collaborate with multiple team members. You can give the group a name, share files with group members, and more.


Meeting with Microsoft Teams

When it’s time for a meeting to start, Teams will give you a push notification to let you know. You can join directly from the push notification, or you can access the meeting from the Calendar screen. If you added the meeting to a Channel within Teams, you can join the meeting from the corresponding Channel as well.


Video or Profile Picture Option

Once you join the Meeting, you’ll see the other attendees via video. If an attendee has disabled video, their profile picture will be displayed instead. It’s also possible to dial in for audio via mobile phone, or even join the meeting with video via the Teams mobile app.


Participants and Invitees

The menu bar at the bottom of the Meeting screen provides you with a range of in-meeting functionality. The Show Participants button displays all of the current meeting participants on the right side of your screen, as well as any meeting invitees who aren’t currently logged into the session. Teams will also suggest other invitees using its AI algorithm.


Chat Feature

The Chat button will open a chat window on the right side of your screen, allowing you to share files, type text messages, and make notes on the fly. If you click the Captions button, Teams will generate captions on the fly. The Blur button will blur the background behind you, eliminating visual distractions.


Share Your Screen

Need to share your screen? Just click the Share Screen button. Want to whiteboard the meeting? With a couple of clicks, you can set up a whiteboard and invite everyone from within the Teams Meeting, making collaboration easy.


Record Meetings

Recording meetings is easy, too. Click the ellipsis in the menu bar and select the Record option, and Teams will immediately start recording audio, video, and the text output of the Captions feature if it’s enabled.


Up To 10,000 Attendees

Worried about limitations when it comes to attendee count? Teams allows for up to 1,000 attendees in a standard meeting, or up to 10,000 in a Live Meeting. No matter the size of your organization, Teams makes it easy to get everyone together on a call.


Teams and Channels

In addition to its Chat and Meeting features, the Teams client also provides you with an overview of which groups you belong to within your organization.

From within the Teams client, click the Teams button on the left-hand side of your screen. You’ll immediately see a list of the Teams you belong to. Underneath each team is a list of Channels corresponding to that Team. You can think of Team Channels as group chat rooms. Here, team members can share important documents, announcements, and meeting notifications with one another.



Every team comes with a default General channel, but you can easily add more channels by clicking the ellipsis next to the Team name and selecting Add Channel. When viewing a Channel, you’ll see a number of options at the top of your screen. You can view Posts within the Channel -- that is, conversations occurring in the Channel -- as well as Files corresponding to the Channel.



You can also add a wide range of other Tabs to a particular Channel. Click the plus sign at the top of the Channel screen, you’ll see a list of tab options, including other Microsoft 365 applications (such as Planner, Power BI, SharePoint, and more), as well third-party applications. For example, selecting SharePoint will provide you with a list of relevant SharePoint documents to choose from. When you select one of these documents, it will be added as a dedicated tab at the top of the Channel, making it easy for team members to access it as needed.


Get Started with Microsoft Teams

As you can see, Teams offers an incredible amount of functionality for employees working from home.

If you’re already using other Microsoft 365 applications (such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 CRM, or Dynamics 365 ERP), Teams makes it easy for employees to collaborate and share documents remotely. But even if you’re not using other Microsoft products, Teams is a great way for members of your organization to work together, track each other’s progress, and stay in touch.

Want to learn more about some of the key features in Teams? We’ve put together an in-depth Microsoft Teams webinar.


Are you ready to get started with Microsoft Teams? ABComputer can help you gain access to a free six-month license, and we’ll get you up and running right away. Click here to get started.

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Last updated on: May 8, 2020  

Microsoft Teams has Security and Privacy Features that Protect Schools and Businesses

Microsoft Teams: Keeping Schools and Organizations Connected

Interesting that schools across the nation are moving to Microsoft Teams due to the lack of security and privacy in Zoom.


Schools Taking Action:

Many schools had originally adopted Zoom to conduct online lessons during the coronavirus lockdown, but concerns have led to the ban of the video conferencing software across the US.

The Chancellor of New York City's Department of Education, Richard A Carranza, sent an email to school principals telling them to "Cease using Zoom as soon as possible.”

Chancellor Carranza is not alone; schools in other parts of the country have taken similar action, and educators are being trained to use Microsoft Teams which has been suggested as a suitable alternative. A main reason they are switching to Microsoft Teams is compliant with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and ISO 27001.

The Washington Post reports that Nevada Public Schools in Clark County were “also moving away from Zoom, saying in a statement that the decision had been taken to ‘disable access to Zoom out of an abundance of caution due to instances of hacking that created unsafe environments for teachers and students.”

Zoom has made a recent public statement assuring users of its efforts in security measures, however they do not qualify for the required compliance needs.

The Washington Post also quotes Danielle Filson, spokesperson for the NYC Education Department, as saying: “Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible. There are many new components to remote learning, and we are making real-time decisions in the best interest of our staff and student. We will support staff and students in transitioning to different platforms such as Microsoft Teams that have the same capabilities with appropriate security measures in place.”


Find out more about Microsoft Teams and their outstanding measures of security and privacy features built into Office 365. Contact ABComputer who is a Microsoft Gold Partner and a cybersecurity expert. Even more find out how you can get up to a 6-month free trial of Microsoft Teams and Office 365.

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Last updated on: May 8, 2020  

How to Work from Home and Stay Productive with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams: Keeping Employees Connected While Working from Home

Last week, Microsoft had to grapple with the same issue as countless other companies around the globe: transitioning thousands of employees from an office environment to working remotely. And just like many other organizations, they had to do it fast -- in fact, practically overnight. Many of Microsoft’s employees were already using Microsoft Teams. But once the message went out asking more than 50,000 employees to start working from home, the company’s utilization of Teams’ chat and video meeting functions increased dramatically.

Below, we’ll take a look at some tips for getting set up for Teams. Many thanks to Jared Spataro, Corporate VP for Microsoft 365, for sharing these tips.

And remember: if you’re looking to get started with Teams, don’t hesitate to contact us here at ABComputer. We can help you get access to a 6-month free trial of Microsoft Teams.


Getting Started with Working Remotely

For those who are totally new to working from home, there are a few important things to keep in mind as you’re getting started.

First off, set up a dedicated workspace. If you have a home office, that’s ideal. But if not, don’t worry: Teams is set up to function as a virtual office, giving you access to the documents you need from home. Just be sure to find a space in your home that you can devote entirely to work, whether it be the corner of your bedroom, your kitchen table, part of your den, or another spot where you can avoid distractions.

Next, pay attention to your daily habits and rhythms, and communicate these to your teammates. Everyone’s schedules are subject to shift as we cope with the situation surrounding COVID-19, and it’s important to let your coworkers know when you’re available. It’s also a good idea to regularly update your teammates on your progress with various projects. You can do this directly in Teams channels, allowing teammates to see what you’re up to live. Anyone who’s not online when you post an update can easily search through the channel later, getting an overview of what you and other team members have accomplished.

Finally, be sure to set boundaries. Working remotely can make it harder to fully ‘unplug’ from work, which can quickly lead to burnout -- especially with the added stress that we’re all facing at the moment. Prioritize your health, keep to a schedule, and be sure to mentally ‘clock-out’ from work at the end of the day. Doing so will actually increase your productivity in the long run.


Running Effective Meetings from Home

Once you’re up and running with Teams, you’ll be ready to take part in meetings with your coworkers.

Make sure you give everyone a virtual ‘join’ option for each meeting, and encourage everyone to use video. If you’re the meeting organizer, make an extra effort to include all of the participants in the discussion, as it’s easy for people to feel left out of larger conference calls and virtual meetings. It’s also a good idea to record meetings in Teams, as long as your organization permits it. This allows team members to go back and review what was discussed if needed.


Stay Socially Connected

One of the biggest challenges with working remotely is staying socially connected with your coworkers. Be sure to reach out to fellow team members, and don’t be afraid to make casual conversation when checking in. In addition to work-focused meetings in Teams, you can also connect via video for lunch. This gives everyone a chance to maintain social ties, which are essential for both long term productivity and personal wellbeing.


Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Working remotely can be challenging, and we’re all faced with a certain amount of stress and uncertainty in these difficult times. With this in mind, it’s important to devote some energy to keeping things light and positive, as team morale is essential to a productive workplace. Share personal stories and updates with team members in the General channel, and don’t be afraid to brainstorm some creative approaches to making the digital workplace fun.


Get Started with Teams Today

Does your organization need to shift to working remotely? Are you looking for a great solution? ABComputer can help you get started with a 6 month free trial of Teams. Call us at 831.422.1355 or send us an email at info@abcomputer to learn more.

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