We are living in an unprecedented time in the world, and tools like Microsoft Teams are bringing people together to communicate and collaborate as well as maintain a sense of community. In these trying times, many of us are working remotely or working from home. Encore’s culture has allowed for employees to work remotely for over 10 years and here are some tips and tricks we use to stay productive using Microsoft Teams.
Meetings are all about the people in them, not the technology. Having the right people in the right meeting and having a clear purpose is the most effective way to get work done. Teams is a tool that enables high-performing teams to be productive and effective.
You can use meeting descriptions to detail the agenda or the context of the meeting. From there, you can use the chat feature within Teams to share reminders or share documents with your colleagues to review before or during the meeting.
Record Your Meeting
Recording your meetings in Teams allows you to capture audio, video, and screen sharing activities. To start recording, go to the meeting controls toolbar in the meeting and select More options and select Start recording. You can also stop recording using the more options ellipsis. The video recording will be processed and saved to Microsoft Stream for you to view and share securely across your organization.
Use Video Conferencing
As daunting as it may be to turn your camera on, using video in meetings makes you and others feel included. It is also the second-best method of communicating after meeting someone in-person.
In order to have a great video experience, it is important to invest in a good camera setup. Bonus tip: Try to set up a dedicated office space and make sure there is proper lighting available.
Background Blurs Within Video Conferencing
Some people might be hesitant to use video because of a messy background. Simple – use blur! You can set up Teams to have the background blur turn on even before you join a meeting. To do this, you simply use the slider button to set on the audio and video screen setting.
Alternatively, you can add a blur background during a meeting by clicking the ellipsis for More options and selecting Blur my background.
Set Up Cloud Storage and Turn on Autosave
You can also automatically back up folders to OneDrive so they are protected even if you lose them on your PC.
On the right side of the taskbar, select OneDrive then click More and go to Settings. On the AutoSave tab, select Update folders and specify which folders you’d like to automatically sync.
Sync your SharePoint sites – If you have SharePoint team sites you can also bring these into Teams to have a central unified interface. Users can add SharePoint pages and lists into Teams Channels, use news connectors in SharePoint to stream news directly into Team channels, and add complete SharePoint sites into Teams. You will also notice in the Files tab in Teams that you can add SharePoint document libraries and sync data between the two applications
Files in Teams
As your team works together, there is no doubt that you will share and collaborate on files together. Teams allows you to collaborate, co-author, and manage files as out of the box functionality. You can also chat with your team members within a document you are working on through a built-in chat box. The files in Teams works in the mobile app as well. You can connect storage accounts and organize your files library. Note that there are tabs for files in private chats, group conversations, meetings, and within Team Channels. This means you can access, edit, and share your files and folders from anywhere.
Tip: In Channels, you can create tabs for important files, websites, or dashboards which makes the content available to everyone on the team.
You can also check out/in documents to restrict others from accessing the file while you make changes. Click on the ellipses for the particular document, click More and select Check out. Once you have made your changes, simply follow the same steps and Check in the document with your revisions.
Use Co-authoring and Collaboration Features in Applications
To use co-authoring features you can, for instance, work on a shared Word document. You can share (by simply entering the email addresses of the people you want to share with), edit and co-author a document, presentation, or workbook within Teams in Office 365. You can see everyone who is editing the document with their icon picture and contact details on the upper right hand of the document. You can also select the image of someone working on the same document and have a private chat. In addition, you will also be able to see each other’s cursors and view edits in real-time as you collaborate.
Use Shortcuts in Teams
There are keyboard shortcuts to make Teams more accessible. Instead of using the mouse, you can press Ctrl + . in the Teams app to display shortcuts. A few common shortcuts include:
- Ctrl + , to show settings.
- Ctrl + 4 to open calendar
- Ctrl + 6 to open files
- Ctrl + N to start a new chat
Use Custom Tabs Within Teams
One of the best things about Microsoft Teams is how easy it is to connect with tools you already use. That could be Word, Excel, Power BI, or many other applications. Teams also allows you to interact with 3rd party applications by adding tabs within the Teams environment. You can add static tabs for individual users or add configurable tabs available for specific Team Channels.
Email or Teams
It is important to distinguish between when to use Teams and when to use email. Emails are great if you want to share long, detailed content. However, Teams promotes discussion and quick responses. While email is crucial for any business, your inbox can wreak disaster on your focus! Email is designed to go through your inbox in a chronological list of emails, needing you to switch your focus between each email/project, and you often lose track of previous conversations and discussions.
Teams does not reduce your workload, but it certainly is a tool to help you manage it. For instance, you can divide a project into Channels to reduce the need to switch your focus between each opportunity. You can also use the chat, files, tasks, and meeting features to ensure you are always caught up on relevant conversations, document sharing, and have all required details in one place rather than having to jump between applications.
At Encore, we also try to share documents through Teams rather than emailing them and toying with multiple versions. Within Teams, you can collaboratively work together and see real-time edits with an audit trail.
Teams can share when a message has been delivered as well as when it has been received and read. This helps not only speed up the response time, ensures messages aren’t lost in the inbox, and allows you to stay in the loop.
Guest Access to Teams
There are times you need to include people external to your organizations in a Team in order to get work done. Microsoft allows Guest access for users who are external or may not have Microsoft Teams/Office 365. Anyone with a business email account can join a conversation on Teams as well as, given permission, can view/edit files, be part of channels, and join meetings.
Manage Notifications and Noise
Notifications ensure that you are current with what’s happening in your Teams and Channels. There are two primary areas where you can manage your notifications.
First, you can select your picture at the top right of Teams, choose Options, then click Notifications. Alternatively, you can control notifications at the Channel level. Select More options and select Channel notifications next to the Channel.
You can also create powerful notifications that can be filtered in Teams to be available when needed, receive updates as required, and not be bogged down spending time keeping up with updates. You can customize your notifications so that they are tailored to the way you work. An example is using a filter to mute notifications from a specific Team/Channel or receive a banner alert each time you are tagged/mentioned.
At Encore, the @mentions feature within Teams is one of the many ways we can quickly get a hold of someone.
Employees love using personalized tools and applications to get work done. There are several ways you can personalize Teams to work for you.
Pin Apps – If you click the ellipsis on the left-hand side toolbar of Teams, you will see a few commonly used applications. Right-click on an application and you are able to pin this app on the toolbar, making the application only a single click away.
Themes – If you click your icon on the top right-hand side then go to Settings, under General settings you can change the theme from Default to Dark or High Contrast.
Hide/Favorite Teams – At times you can be involved in too many Teams and can get lost in the unstructured lists of channels. Teams has a feature to “Hide” teams you are not active and “Show” teams that are more relevant. Simply click the ellipsis for a particular Team and select Hide. You can also bring a Team back to life the same way but instead selecting Show.
Speed drives efficiency, and that is a valuable component in our changing modern workplace. There are two commands you can use from the search bar. You can use @ or / to prompt commands. Simply type / into the search bar for more commands. For instance, you can use commands to set your status to “do not disturb” or “available”.
Some of the common slash commands include:
- /files – to access your most recent files shared with you on Teams
- /call – helps you initiate a call with someone
- /help – provides assistance through the T-bot
- /whatsnew – helps you keep up to date on any new features as well as has some training guides on Teams
You can also use Bots to help you perform light weight tasks using natural language. For instance, you can use the /who bot which can help you find experts by simple typing /who: knows about (your topic or question).
Analytics Within Teams
In addition to integrations that can be made with reporting and analytical tools with Teams, it also offers usage reports from data gathered to give you insight into adoption rates and user activity. The reports are available to Office 365 Global Admin, under Analytics and Reports. These reports can be used in multiple ways. A best practice is to refer to these reports during implementation of Teams to see how users are responding and what features they access the most.
In Teams you are able to use GIFs, stickers, and emojis. Texts can be a dry way to communicate so add some emotion and use a GIF or sticker to punch it up a little!
Update Your Status
Change your status to make sure everyone knows when you are available, busy, or away from your desk.
Sometimes you are in a hurry and want to make sure you don’t lose specific details from a project you are working on. You can use bookmarks to save specific pieces of content including messages or attachments. This reduces the amount of time you would generally spend searching for the data. You can also use the Teams search and filter feature to locate content.
Download the Teams App (on Mobile)
There is a Teams mobile app that helps you connect and collaborate from anywhere and at any time. The app is available and compatible with iOS and Android. You can access your files, Channels, Teams, as well as chat, join meetings, and collaborate all on the go!
New and Upcoming Features in Teams:
- Live captioning
- Raise hands feature
- Custom backgrounds
- Noise suppression for background noises
There are many features in Microsoft Teams to help you stay on top of your day-to-tasks as well as stay connected with your fellow team members. If you’re interested in learning more about how Teams can be utilized for your business, please get in contact with us.
If your business experiences these red flags, your diagnosis is clear: time to adopt the cloud!