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:
...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:
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.
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.
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.
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.