Microsoft Teams - How to Collaborate from Home

Microsoft Teams Image

Well the past few weeks have been a roller coaster away from work and with as much as 45% of the workforce estimated to be actively working from home, it's no surprise that collaborative communciation apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams have seen their Daily Active Users increase by 27% in just 7 days with schools, not for profits and organisations of all shapes and sizes scrambling to work from home.

However as is the case with many powerful pieces of software, we see countless organisations under-utilising it’s functionality. It’s like using a Ferrari to drive to the shops! But finally now is the time to get your head around Microsoft Teams, communicate like a much younger, trendier business, and say goodbye to internal reply-to-all threads once and for all!

But i'm too busy to learn a new system and e-mail works perfectly!

No, you're not too busy! And reply to all e-mails are far from perfect - Just ask your younger colleagues!  At the very least spend 2 minutes watching this superbly well-crafted Welcome to Microsoft Teams Video below - In a world where we are bombarded with countless messages each and every day, this will open your eyes and change the way you communicate with your colleagues at work forever.

Collaborating from Home with Microsoft Teams

It’s a hierarchical structure, which means it’s easy to understand who has what permissions and which communication channels are visible to the relevant team members.

Teams

First things first, you will have multiple teams for your business, these can be company-wide, departments or project based:

  • Company wide team - Great for announcements to everybody.
  • Department team - Communicate directly with your department.
  • Sub project teams - Perfect for when you have a project team which needs to collaborate on a specific event.
  • For instance AZoNetwork Company, Sales, Marketing, Finance

Channels

Channels are to be used for broad topics within your chosen team. You can have multiple channels in each team and from there you can:

  • Hold virtual meetings
  • Share files and work from them collaboratively (at the same time)
  • For instance Expenses, Travel, HR updates etc.

Conversations

Conversations are great for a new specific issue or small topic A few tips for creating conversations that hit the mark:

  • Format your message by hitting the BIG A (at the bottom)
  • Add bullets, numbered lists or hyperlinks
  • Change font sizes, highlights, H1s, H2s etc.
  • Insert/paste a screen grab, image or document
  • Encourage people to particpate by tagging their name or team
  • Add a little humour with your favourite SpongeBob gif!
  • You can have multiple conversations in each channel - For instance - March Expenses, April Expenses etc.

How to Format a Conversation

Replies

On each conversation there is a thread where you can reply to that specific conversation/issue. These can often go on for dozens of replies, this where Teams has a real advantage over endless chains of reply to all emails.

People don't expect you to reply to everything but it is good practice to like/react to a conversation or reply to show acknowledgement of the message.

Reply in thread

Top Tip - On pain of death Under no circumstances reply to a conversation by starting a new conversation! Always reply in thread (where it says reply!)

Chat

Communicate privately with one person or multiple people using chat. You can:

  • Video call
  • Regular call (sharing a screen)
  • Or just message

Calls

Call anyone from your organisation using your computer and, if your organisation has it configured, use it to call externally as well. You will need to consult your IT guys for this one.

Calendar

View all of your appointments for the week and schedule meetings directly from your microsoft calendar - This will also sync up with your outlook calendar.

Video Calls and Meetings

Teams Meeting Notes

  • Schedule video meetings from your calendar. This is best for organised meetings as you can add in meeting notes and stick to an agenda.
  • Or have an impromptu meeting from a channel within a team.
  • You can also have a video call directly from a chat with multiple people

Agenda Notes

Top tip - Share your camera but don't forget to blur your background to blur out the piles of washing, screaming children, or roaming cats and dogs!

Activity

Check activity to see who has mentioned you, reacted and replied to your conversations and more.

Find out more about Managing Notifications

Command

Commands are an under-utilized gem, you can power up your functionality just by typing in / - Here are some of our favorites:

  • /help - Access great training under the help section (see below)
  • /mentions - See who has directly mentioned you
  • /files - View the recent files which you have been working on

Teams Training and Help

Mobile App

Access all of your messages on the go by downloading the app.

Adding a Guest member

If you are working on a collaboration with external partners, you can add guest members so that you are all on the same page.

The Guide for Team Owners.

Add/remove members and guest members. Add co-owners to the team by changing their role under the members tab. Select who sees what and the default settings for how people receive notifications.

If you run a department or head up a particular project, you will likely want to create a Team, this video shows how you can set up and manage a Team as well as permissions - You can have multiple owners for each Team which helps you to share the administrational load.

For more detailed information when looking to divide your team into subsets of people find out how to add a private channel within a Team.

Cloud Voice

Once the icing is on the comms cake, cloud voice is the cherry on top which allows you to bring telephony into your communication software. Whilst internal comms and calling is relatively straightforward, with extra set up, Teams can be configured to call external phone lines.

Teams Rollout

Breaking the e-mail chain

If you haven't done so already, get started with Teams and give it a go with a few (willing) members of your company.

As the world is plunged into lockdown, the business world keeps spinning. Will this be the reaction that broke the e-mail chain?

Each year more and more students are entering the workforce with collaborative communication experience, which is hugely positive for effective communications and business as a whole. With 12 Million Daily Active Users being added to Microsoft Teams in the last week alone, it's time to get with the programme.

Let us know how you get on!

Contact AZoNetwork

Posted by Frank Barker

Having spent his younger years playing Rugby in the sunny climes of Spain and Australia, Frank graduated from Loughborough University with a BSc in International Business before settling back in rainy Manchester. Frank has helped numerous Science, Engineering and Healthcare companies to create marketing strategies that engage with niche audiences. Having started his career in Sales, he now runs the Marketing department for AZoNetwork. He specialises in data management for sales teams, equipping them with the most actionable, real-time marketing insights from the first touch point through to revenue generating opportunity. A sportsman at heart, Frank still enjoys lacing up the boots for his beloved Macclesfield 1st XV Rugby or pulling on the whites to represent the more serious Macclesfield 3rd XI Cricket team.    

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