Microsoft Teams is the ultimate tool for collaborating at work. Teams provides a fully decked out document storage, chat, and online meeting environment. Teams is Microsoft’s answer to programs like Slack or Google Hangouts.
If you’ve ever needed to participate in a team project at work, you’ll fully appreciate the need for such a tool. Each program is designed for work collaboration and has a slightly different set of features, some you may need, some you may not. Microsoft Teams is your new best friend for group projects.
Our hand-picked top Microsoft Teams features:
1. Fully integrated with Office 365
As another Microsoft product, Teams (of course!) integrates beautifully with Office 365, which is perfect if you’re already using that for your business. The Office 365 applications that get used every day in your workplace―like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, and Outlook―are fully integrated into Microsoft Teams.
2019 has brought with it a number of improvements to the Office 365 Groups admin experience. You can easily and swiftly create teams within a group, bring deleted groups back, edit the group email alias, and use sensitivity labels.
For employees who still prefer Windows Explorer, Teams is optimised for this browser, too. You’re provided with Explorer-view access to OneDrive and SharePoint locations directly from Office suite applications or Explore itself. This is a major tipping point to push people towards Teams when considering Teams vs Zoom.
2. Conversation channels
You can dedicate chat channels to certain topics which makes it far easier and more likely to keep messaging on a topic and resolve problems faster without distraction. With channels separated by topic, there’s far less clutter. It also makes finding what you’re looking for seamless, as you don’t have to scroll through a lot of irrelevant messages. This means less time wasted and fewer frustrated employees!
The Conversation tab in Microsoft Teams appears in the General channel. It also shows up in any other additional channels you create. All class members can contribute to this channel. In other channels, the @mention button can be used to invite people to the conversation. Conversations vary from chats, as everyone in the channel can view them. They can view the files that are shared in the conversation, too, by going to the Files tab.
3. Reduced email
You’ll have less clutter in your inbox as prompt, quick questions get resolved over Teams chat, rather than a potential long wait for an email reply.
A nifty feature of Microsoft Teams is that you’re able to send an email to the team channel, with the contents of the email appearing in the threaded conversation for all team members to view.
Benefits of using Teams over email:
4. Direct access to email, Skype, OneDrive, and SharePoint
Teams provides you with access to Office 365 applications within the one location, letting you work more efficiently. Access files and documents in OneDrive and SharePoint, plus make calls and conduct video conferences directly from Teams.
When you’re getting stuck into a task at work, you want everything to be in the same place. Microsoft Teams delivers on this. Everything you need is (in most cases) in the same place, including messages, meetings, notes, and documents. You also have immediate real-time access to teammates who are online, making collaboration quick and easy.
5. Collaborate live in real time
Real-time presence changes will come as a pleasant surprise to those who have been exasperated at the slowness of presence updates in Teams. This especially affects people moving from Skype for Business Online because the presence changes in that app happen very smoothly.
You can complete work in real time with your colleagues as you chat together, and work on files through Teams, rather than taking turns emailing updates. Say goodbye to having multiple versions of everything!
6. Access Teams across all of your devices
Teams not only has the comprehensive web interface, but you can collaborate on the go, or answer teammate questions from afar, using the mobile apps.
Available on both Android, Windows, and iOS, Teams provides a simple and easy-to-use app that allows you to chat with your team via text, have a voice conversation, or a video meeting. These mobile versions are being increasingly popular in today’s technological workspaces and are must-haves for Teams users in 2020.
You can use Microsoft Teams on these mobile platforms:
7. Collaborate internally and externally securely
Security is yet another area where Microsoft Teams lifts itself above competitors. In fact, you can be confident in the cutting-edge security and compliance capabilities that come with your Office 365 subscription.
Customise your teams to be private or publicly available for other users within your business who have been allocated an Office 365 account. With Microsoft Teams, you can enjoy advanced security controls that cover data-loss prevention, information barriers, retention policies, eDiscovery, legal hold, and more.
While both in transit and at rest, your data is encrypted. All Office 365 services, including Teams, meet compliance standards, including: ISO 27001, HIPPA. SOC 2, and EU Model Clauses.
8. Collaborate with vendors suppliers and clients
You can even invite chat users from outside your organisation using their direct email. They will be tagged as ‘guest’ users, and this is a great functionality for communicating with vendors or other third parties.
This guest access allows teams in your organisation to collaborate with clients, contractors, stakeholders, etc, by giving them access to your Teams existing teams and channels. Admins can control which features guests have access to, so you can be confident business information won’t be put at risk. Anyone with a business or consumer email account, such as Outlook or Gmail, can participate as a guest in Teams.
9. Automatic setup across the suite
When you create a Team, Microsoft Teams will also create a shared selection of Office 365 elements for whatever you’re working on. This includes a Sharepoint team site, a shared OneNote notebook, and a shared Plan.
10. Fast searching for information
Use the search function in Microsoft Teams to easily find relevant information from past conversations or files. You can directly schedule meetings for your group where all members within the team are automatically invited. These content search capabilities provide a way to search your Microsoft Teams information, including:
- SharePoint Online
- OneDrive for Business
11. Easily organise email related to the topic
You can forward emails directly to your channel as a clever way to share them. Just click the ellipsis next to any channel name and select “Get email address.” That generates an email address for the channel.
Teams actively aims to organise your workplace’s communication, activities, meetings, and creative/strategic ideas into one platform, all the while integrating with the people in the business you know and interact with. Teams seeks to optimise organisation for a larger group of related individuals, as opposed to individual team members.
12. Conversation threads
Teams displays chats as threaded conversations, so you can easily track the flow of conversation without getting lost.
Within a Team, you can make multiple chat rooms and channels, keeping chats easy to follow. To further enhance this, conversations are threaded and flow from top to bottom. Users are notified of any updates and if they need to communicate with someone face-to-face, they can switch the conversation to a voice or video chat with just one click. The number of participants in a video chat is also set to grow, with Microsoft integrating the Kaizala messaging service for large-group communication into Teams.
13. Integrate third-party applications quickly
Microsoft Teams supports third party applications like Zendesk, which give you the functionality of integrating Teams into other areas of your business for streamlined processes and communication.
Some other examples of applications include Asana, Polly, Smartsheet, and Zoom.ai, but there are hundreds of third-party apps that have been integrated into the Teams platform. These apps cover the needs of many different teams in your business―from IT to analytics to marketing. No matter what your business is, there will be an app you can use in Teams that will increase how valuable Teams becomes to your business.
14. Cyber security
Microsoft Teams is built with the best cyber security standards possible: ISO 27001 and SSAE16 SOC one and two, just to name a couple. There is also integrated mobile device management to help keep your data and fleet safe.
No software can prevent all phishing attempts, or all malware and ransomware attacks, but Microsoft Teams has stepped up its cyber security game in this arena. Additionally, Teams features two-factor authentication and encrypted data (in transit and at rest).
15. Quickly get work done with slash commands
A slash command is a short typed phrase, preceded by a slash (/), which causes a specific action within an app. They’re meant to make some everyday functions quick and easy to activate, without your hands leaving the keyboard.
The most common slash command is likely “/away”, which sets your status to Away. They can do much more than that, however! When used in a chat app, slash commands let you join a channel, invite other users into a channel, mark yourself as away/busy/available, and dozens of other things.
16. New grid view
There’s a new, simpler way to navigate your teams. See all your teams in one centralised place, including class, PLC, Staff, and other teams. Select any team to focus on your conversations and files without extra visual distraction. Don’t worry―all your files, conversations, and assignments are still right where you left them. You can switch back to the old view at any time.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the new Teams experience (Grid view) and the original Teams experience (List view):
17. @ feature
The best way to make sure someone on your team sees your message is to @mention them! All you have to do is type @ before someone’s name and they’ll get a notification. If you need to get the attention of your entire team, or relay information to them all, just type @team before your message, and everyone in your team will receive the notification. You can also type @channel before your message to notify everyone in the channel that you have posted something. The @team and @channel mentions must be enabled by team owners.
This saves a whole lot of time and effort required when sending individual messages. It also means that team owners can organise users into roles, projects, and locations. This makes for seamless communication. Not only admins can add tags. In the Microsoft admin centre, admins can control who can add tags and how they’re used.
18. Standard or Private Channels
Standard channels, which are what most channels are, are available to all team members in Teams. If you need a smaller, specific audience for a particular subject, you can use a private channel.
Here’s a look into each type:
19. Bots Gallery
About 24 bots with a variety of functionalities are available to help increase productivity. There’s the T-Bot, which can answer basic and frequently asked questions about Teams, Polly Bot for polling co-workers, Statsbot for delivering scheduled reports via sources, such as Salesforce and Google Analytics, and Growbot, which allows the exchange of kudos with your co-workers.
20. Integrated between Outlook and Teams
February 2020 saw the introduction of a new integrated experience between Teams and Outlook. While we always push just how much of your workplace collaboration can happen on Teams, we also realise that email will still be used daily. Microsoft knows this, too. That’s why they have made the relationship between Teams and Outlook seamless with the function of being able to move a Teams conversation to Outlook just by clicking the “…” icon, which means ‘more options.’ Similarly, since March, you can also move a conversation in Outlook to Teams―including attachments. To do this, you simply just click “Share to Teams.” If you’d like more information on how to use this feature, you can check it out on the Microsoft website. Currently, these features are only available on desktops, as opposed to mobile applications.
21. Manage your App Catalogue
Admins can now manage apps straight from the Microsoft Teams admin centre via a “Manage Apps” page. This lets administrators view all of the available apps in the tenant, plus gives information to assist with decisions surrounding which apps would be best for their organisation. The app catalogue also gives admins the ability to streamline the testing and distributing line-of-business applications process.
22. Teams New File Experience
Powered by SharePoint, the Teams file experience has now rolled out online to all tenants. What is the benefit of this for your users? You can sync files to your PC or Mac, see rich previews of 320 file extensions, create data views and work with metadata, view the lifecycle signals of documents, review on-hover file cards, select files to pin at the top, and perform new actions like ‘check-in’ and ‘check-out.’ You can read more about these new functions on the Microsoft site.
23. Recording Storage
Microsoft Teams has the function of letting users record their meetings and group calls in Teams to capture audio, video, and screen sharing. In 2020, even when Microsoft Stream isn’t available in Go Local, Microsoft is enabling “allow cloud recording” and having this turned on as default. This means that recordings will be stored in the respective in-region data centre. Previously, customers in an area where Stream service isn’t available in the corresponding Go Local region have been unable to use the cloud recordings function.
24. New Power BI Tab for Teams
The new Power BI tab for Microsoft Teams has great new features that let everyone in a channel or chat find and track the data they need to complete their daily tasks. The new tab adds support for reports in the new workspace experiences, reports in Power BI apps, and paginated reports―plus it’s easy to add it to your channels and chats! Another function of the tab is that it’s can help you manage organisational change. Someone new joining the team? The data they need is right there for them.
25. Introducing App Pinning
The Teams App Bar lets you pin personal apps to the Teams app bar (on the left-hand rail). All you have to do is locate the app you’d like to pin for easy access, right click on the app icon, and choose “pin.” The app icon will remain in your Teams app bar so that you can access it easily. Microsoft Teams also lets you pin apps to relevant channels or chats for Simply find the app, right-click the app icon, and select “pin”. Even after you navigate away, the app icon will remain so you can easily return to it. Also take advantage of being able to pin apps to relevant chats and channels, too!
This is an unbelievable cache of features, and really it doesn’t come close to covering just how useful and beneficial this will be for your teams at work. When it comes down to it, Microsoft Teams is a huge bonus for workplaces already working with Office 365 and supports all your collaborative needs with ease.
If you require a hand to set up Teams or Office 365 the friendly team at Stanfield IT can assist.