Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool designed specifically for businesses. It allows employees to communicate more effectively, collaborate on projects, and share information easily. This tool is perfect for small businesses because it works well with existing tools like email and Skype. In this article, we will go over some of the best Microsoft Teams tips and tricks to maximize your experience and unlock new levels of productivity for your employees.
1. Creating Your Team in Microsoft Teams
Sign up with Microsoft Teams with your work email address. You can use any email address to do this, but if you and your employees have professional business email addresses, it will help to keep work and personal emails separate. Once signed into your team portal, click “Create Team” from the top menu bar. Enter a name for your team, choose whether you want to invite other people to join your team, select an Office 365 subscription plan, and then follow the prompts to finish creating your team. If you hire new employees or otherwise decide to expand your team in the future, you’ll have the option to add more Teams users later.
With the team created, you should be able to see all members who are already part of your organization by clicking on their names under “Membership Status” at the bottom left corner of the screen. If they aren’t listed there yet, they won’t show up until after you’ve invited them to join your team. To do so, simply send each person an invitation via email or through the web interface. The process takes about 5 minutes per user. After inviting someone, you’ll receive a notification letting you know when they accept your request. When everyone has been added to your team, you’re ready to start using Microsoft Teams!
2. Assigning Roles in Microsoft Teams
When you first set up Microsoft Teams, you’re given the opportunity to assign roles to individual participants so that you know exactly where to find them during conversations. Each role has its own unique purpose and responsibilities. Some examples include:
- Admin/Owner : An Admin/owner is responsible for managing the entire channel. They can add new members, remove existing ones, change settings, etc.
- Member : A Member is simply another user who participates in the conversation. Members cannot do anything beyond typing responses but they can still leave chat history behind.
- Guest : Guests aren’t allowed to type anything, but they can listen to the discussion and watch the presentation.
3. Creating Rooms in Microsoft Teams
If you’d rather just jump right in without waiting for others to join, you can create a private room directly within the app. Click “New Room” from the main navigation panel, enter a title for the room, set its privacy level, and then click Create. From here, you can invite anyone else to participate in the conversation, as long as they also have access to the room.
With rooms, you can adjust which groups have access to what kinds of things. For example, you might allow your sales team to view contacts, but restrict your finance staff from viewing anything outside of business processes or financial files. This can also help to streamline workflows by ensuring that each employee and/or department has access to exactly the information they need and no more.
Rooms gives you the option to share content across different rooms which can be helpful if, say, you need to give your marketing team access to sales-related information. By giving permissions based on individual roles, you can ensure that no sensitive information gets leaked accidentally.
4. Using Channels in Microsoft Teams
Channels are another feature built into Microsoft Teams that make communication easier than ever before. They provide a simple method of organizing conversations around topics. Once you’ve created a Channel, you can add members to the Channel via email addresses or through their Office 365 accounts. When someone joins a Channel, he or she automatically receives notifications whenever they receive incoming messages. Additionally, you can adjust the default settings to set up rules that determine whether or not a user should receive these alerts.
There are three main types of Channels: public, private, and shared. The difference between each of these channels depends upon who has access to it. For example, if you create a public Channel called “Sales”, anyone within your organization will be able to join this conversation. However, if you create a private Channel called “Marketing”, only people within Marketing will have permission to participate. Finally, if you create a shared Channel like “Shared Resources”, any member of your team can invite others to join the conversation. This way, you don’t have to worry about accidentally sharing sensitive information with non-team members.
There is a high level of customizability with Channels. Options include: Announcements, Conversations, Direct Messages, Files, Forums, Live Events, Meetings, Polls, Private Chat, Public Chat, Scheduled Reminders, Surveys, Videos, Voice Calls, Webinars, and Wiki Pages. Each channel type provides unique functionality depending on how they were used. Don’t let this list overwhelm you, though! You don’t need to try to make all these communication tools work at once; identify what will be the best fit for your small business and give your employees the most efficient Teams experience.
Here are some examples of how these features could benefit your business:
- Announcement – A place where you post important announcements such as company events, product launches, etc.
- Conversation – Allows multiple participants to chat back and forth with one another while simultaneously seeing updates made throughout the discussion thread.
- Direct Message – Similar to sending instant messages to only one specific person, direct messages let you communicate privately with individuals inside your organization. It is similar to having a group IM window open between two parties.
- Files – Share files with co-workers and clients alike.
- Forums – Post questions and answers related to certain topics.
- Live Event – Host live meetings online with attendees anywhere in the world.
- Meetings – Schedule recurring meetings with colleagues and guests.
- Poll – Ask questions and get feedback from your audience.
- Private Chat – Send text messages to selected recipients.
- Public Chat – Broadcast messages to everyone in the room.
- Scheduled Reminder – Set reminders for yourself or others.
- Surveys – Conduct surveys to gather data from customers or potential hires.
- Videos – Watch videos together in real time.
- Voice Call – Make phone calls over Skype or Google Hangouts.
- Webinar – Stream video presentations to interested viewers.
- Wiki Page – Collaborate on documents and spreadsheets together.
5. Interfacing with External Users in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams also offers many different ways to collaborate, exchange messages with external contacts, and provide robust customer service. These options range from calling and messaging to file transfer and screen sharing. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some tools that we think are most useful for connecting with clients and giving them an excellent user experience.
- Calling & Messaging – If you want to talk to someone outside your office without leaving your desk, use Calling & Messaging. With Calling & Messaging, you can call or message anyone by entering his or her number or email address directly into a Team meeting. Alternatively, you can search for contact info in People Search or Contacts.
- File Transfer – Use File Transfer to share large amounts of content quickly and easily. Simply drag and drop files onto the desktop of a recipient and they’ll appear there immediately. You can even send more than one file at once using batch uploads. For example, if you are a law office, online file sharing makes it extremely easy to share a document and collaborate with your clients.
- Screen Sharing – Screen Sharing lets you see what other users are doing while working remotely. To start a remote session, click Start Remote Session in the left navigation bar. Then choose whether you’d prefer to view their computer’s display or just their webcam feed. Once connected, you can control the mouse cursor and keyboard as well as take notes and make comments. This is especially helpful with so many business actions needing to take place virtually due to social distancing and remote work. It amps up your customer service by providing a tangible way to interact with you and see examples of what your small business can provide them. This is especially helpful if you want them to see a document without giving them access to the file.
- Video Conferencing – Video conferencing gives everyone an opportunity to meet up virtually so that no matter where you are located, you can work together seamlessly. In addition to being part of a live conference, participants can record meetings and watch them later. An additional option is Skype Chat, which allows you to speak one-on-one with another person through audio or video streams. Because Skype is built right into Office 365, you can connect instantly across devices.
6. Internal Collaboration with Microsoft Teams
There are a few more tools that we want to highlight that support productivity and efficiency for you and your employees. Again, this is not a complete list, but these are options that you’ll likely want to make use of right away.
- Teams Meetings – A great tool for organizing events and planning group activities, Teams Meetings allow you to schedule all kinds of gatherings, set calendar reminders for recurring meetings and manage attendees. Also, you can set agendas and assign tasks before every meeting. Plus, track attendance and leave messages for absentees.
- Office Hours – Schedule regular times to hold virtual conversations with colleagues via Office hours. Choose topics you would like to discuss during those scheduled appointments and then let your teammates know when and where to find you. Alternatively, set a busy calendar to let colleagues know when you need uninterrupted work time.
- Group Calendar – Share calendars among groups of individuals or departments. Group Calendars give you visibility into upcoming events and deadlines. They also provide a convenient place to store important dates and resources.
Microsoft Teams has fantastic tools for collaboration and organization. Tech Masters can give you a free assessment to see if this is the right tool for your small business.
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