Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform from Microsoft, baked into Microsoft 365. Many organisations are now using Microsoft Teams, if not before then potentially as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has thrust businesses throughout the world into new ways of working. Although Microsoft Teams is now used by many organisations, the vast majority of users are using it for its basic functionality only, attending voice/video calls and sending messages.
Below are my top 10 tips for using Microsoft Teams to help make you more productive and keep you active in the application so that you stay aware of important communications and information that may have otherwise been missed while using other apps.
- Channels: Use channels within Teams to make the most of your team and really let the members of the team be as productive as possible. When using a Team, flesh it out with channels (topics) for each area that the members of the team will collaborate against. This will allow you to organise your collaborative content into focus areas rather than having it all in one place.
- Chat: Use the chat area for individual conversations that are outside of the teams’ remit. If you need to have a private chat with multiple users at the same time, or you think the individual chat you are having could at some point be expanded out to a larger audience, then use the group feature within chat to start a chat as a group. This way you can add others to the chat at a later time but still allow them to see the history of the previously private conversations. Not doing this will block any new users to a private chat and prevent them from seeing the history.
- Activity: The activity area in Microsoft Teams is one of the most powerful features of the tool. You have all the important data from all the Team channels that you are a member of, as well as all your chat conversations, rolled up in one place. Better still, you can then filter and search against this area. This can be a great starting point for finding useful content for you and in saving you time when you need to find something.
- Notifications: Within Microsoft Teams, the notifications you receive by email, pop-up banner on your desktop, push notification on your mobile or by indication within the Activity, Chat and Teams areas are all configured on an individual basis. Each user should be encouraged to set-up their notifications as they need them.
- Events: Creating a new event that will use Teams for chat/voice or video. Who is the target audience for the event? Does this audience already exist within one of your Teams? If the answer is yes, consider linking your event to the Team channel as opposed to creating a standalone event. The benefit of doing this will be to store any files and chat history against the channel of the Team rather than against the event itself. This is beneficial for many reasons, not least of which is that if any member of the team was not invited to the event or a new team member joins the team after the event, they can still access the content through the channel. This would not be possible if the data was linked directly to an event and the user was not invited to that event.
- Tabs: Add tabs into your channels (and chats) to enhance the functionality of those topical areas for your members, e.g. having a chat between the finance team about a new expense process? Directly show the process document as a tab within the channel so it’s easy to refer to when needed.
- Website Connector: You can add many things as a Tab into a channel or chat. One of the most overlooked connectors to use however is the website connector. You can add this connector as many times as you want to a channel and it’s a great way of linking external cloud content into a channel so that your users don’t need to leave Teams to work on 3rd party tools. For example, you use Outlook a lot and you leave Teams to open the Outlook client on your computer or use the browser version of Outlook to see your email. Instead copy the URL to the browser version of Outlook and add it as a Tab into the channel. Now you can stay within Teams and see your email at the same time meaning you won’t miss any important communications coming to you in Teams or in Outlook whilst working in one or the other. Got a 3rd party app that you access via the browser all the time for your work? Add the website using the website connector and again, you don’t need to leave Teams to work with that 3rd party application.
- Pins: Use ‘pin’ against a channel to pin that channel to the top of the Teams area. This can be a great way of saving you time in finding the content that you use the most across all of the Teams that you are a member of.
- Open in SharePoint: Within the Files area of a channel inside of a Team, there is a button that says ‘Open in SharePoint’. All files within Teams channels are actually stored within SharePoint. Using this button will allow you to view the files directly within SharePoint giving you the advantage of the additional features that browsing from within SharePoint gives you, such as being able to see the version history of the document or any additional metadata tags the document holds e.g. switch views, etc.
- Power Automate: You can now use Power Automate to enhance your users’ Teams experience. Create automations for new people being added into a channel against selected messages, when someone mentions you, when a new channel is added to a team and more. Make use of these for your business requirements to automate some of the workload members of the Team may need to do.
For a successful implementation, there are more considerations than those listed above, but this list will get you started. As always, if you would like to speak to HSO regarding your Microsoft Teams environment or any other application within Microsoft 365 including any aspect of governance, security, productivity, collaboration, communication, automation, etc. then please contact your account manager or the Modern Workplace practice manager, Sergio Giusti at SGiusti@hso.com