Small businesses that want to improve communication between employees are rapidly adopting team collaboration software. Today, we will be discussing one of the largest players in this space: Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams is an online collaboration and communication tool included in Microsoft’s document management software: Microsoft 365. Teams is best for businesses in need of a centralized hub built for coordinating with teammates and collaborating on documents. It is most comparable with Slack.
Although it is an intuitive and user-friendly piece of software, new and prospective customers often need introductory guidance about how to use Microsoft Teams. Fortunately, we’ve put together a one-stop guide to the best features in Teams and how to use them.
Table of Contents
- How to Get Started with Microsoft Teams
- Eight Tips for Using Microsoft Teams
- Final Thoughts
How to Get Started with Microsoft Teams
Teams is included in all Microsoft 365 plans. However, if you don’t require full access to features such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Exchange, you can sign up for a free plan that gives you access just to Microsoft Teams.
Teams is accessible on a web browser and via a desktop app. We recommend downloading and using the latter if you want the best user experience. Once you sign up, you can invite contacts via email or shareable invitation links.
Eight Tips for Using Microsoft Teams
We’ve used Microsoft Teams ourselves and composed eight tips for using the software below. Screenshots are included to provide context and show Microsoft Teams’ interface.
#1. Use Templates to Build Teams
The first step in Microsoft Teams is creating your Team. These are groups your team members join to coordinate on projects, upload files, and join video calls. You can create your Teams from scratch, or use templates. Templates come with pre-made channels that help organize your team based on specific use cases.
We will discuss channels in the next tip below.
Each template comes with its own set of predefined tabs, channels and apps designed to serve particular industries and functions. Template options include:
- Retail services
- Event management
- Financial collaboration
- Onboarding employees
- Project management
Once you’ve selected a template, your team will be live. You can then customize your apps and channels according to your team’s needs.
#2. Create Channels to Organize Your Teams
Channels are distinct sections within the application that contain relevant apps, conversations, and files for a specific topic or project. Channels help businesses stay organized and operate efficiently.
Above is an example of a typical use case for channels. As you can see, our Onboarding team contains four channels: general, announcements, employee chat, and training.
There are two types of channels. Standard channels are visible to everyone in your team. Private channels, however, are available only to a select group of people. Team members can create up to 200 standard channels and 30 private channels in a single team.
#3. Share Files to Collaborate With Your Team
Rather than sending endless attachments and revised documents via email, Teams allows you to share and delete files directly on a channel, group chat, or one-to-one chat. Exchanging files in this way is more efficient, and makes them easier to locate.
To share a file with channel members, simply select the ‘Files’ tab and upload files from OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box. Once uploaded, you can safely store files in a secure document library.
To share files within a chat, select the paperclip icon below the text input box and upload a copy of your chosen file.
#4. Schedule Your Week With a Group Calendar
The calendar function on the Teams platform allows you to schedule meetings and organize events with colleagues. When a team member adds an event to the main Group calendar, it will instantly appear on other members’ calendars.
Microsoft Teams also comes with a Scheduling Assistant to prevent scheduling conflicts. This streamlines the process of finding an available time to meet, allowing you to invite people without having to enquire about their availability.
#5. Set Shifts for Your Team
The Shifts application in Microsoft Teams allows you to assign shifts to employees. . This is an effective way to keep track of your employees and coordinate scheduling.
Once you have created your roster and shared it with team members, they can use the Shifts function to clock in and out, request time off, and swap shifts. As schedule manager, you have full visibility of your team’s calendar and have the power to approve pending changes.
The Shifts tool is particularly valuable for businesses with a high number of remote workers. It helps team managers keep track of who is working at different points in the week.
#6. Set Up Video Meetings With Your Team
If you and your team members work remotely, audio and video meetings are essential..
Teams comes with several features designed to enhance the quality of your calls – many of which you won’t find on other video conferencing platforms. These include:
|Video previews||Before you enter a meeting, you can preview how you look on camera. If you’re not happy, you can blur or customize your background.|
|Screen sharing||This function allows you to share a window, desktop view, whiteboard, or PowerPoint presentation – just as you would present slides or write up notes in a face-to-face meeting.|
|Alter meeting layouts||You can select different layouts for your meeting, depending on your preferences. You can pin frequent speakers or give everyone an equal layout as if they’re in a shared space with colleagues.|
|Breakout rooms||Breakout rooms create small groups of meeting attendees to have separate discussions. This is an effective way to facilitate more private conversations within a greater group.|
#7. Collaborate on Files
Teams allows you to simultaneously work on files with colleagues, with full visibility into the edits each person has made.
To collaborate on documents, you do not need to open individual files in their respective platforms. Instead, Excel, PowerPoint, or Word files can all be opened and edited directly in Microsoft Teams.
#8. Add Apps to Your Channels
Apps can further enhance the functionality of Teams. They can be used within channels and chats, and are very easy to apply to your profile.
Some of Microsoft Teams’ most popular applications include:
These apps are just a small selection of the options open to Teams users – do your research and install a stack of apps to suit your unique requirements.
As you can see, Teams is a versatile piece of software that can increase company productivity and help your employees work together more effectively. Whether you’re looking to improve communications between remote employees or break down barriers between siloed departments, Teams will help you achieve your goals.
If you want to learn more about Teams, check out our Microsoft 365 review.