As swarm of businesses are (or will be) working from home, we wanted to share some tips on using Microsoft Teams, part of the Microsoft Office 365 subscription, to collaborate with co-workers, clients and other external contacts.

Don’t Have Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is part of Microsoft Office 365. If you are considering on migrating to Office 365, now is a good time.

Otherwise, there are other video collaboration tools such as GotoMeeting or Zoom, which are offering some qualifying organizations free licenses for a temporary period of time.

General Tips for Working from Home

Before we get started, let me first share this useful 2-minute video showing some general best practices for working at home.

Microsoft Teams is a great way to stay in touch with your colleagues at work, even when you’re not at work.

Audio, Video and Chat

The most fundamental tool in Teams is to call or chat with someone directly in your organization.

Check out this 1m 35s video tutorial from Microsoft on how to use this feature.

It’s really easy to start with a chat and turn it into a video or audio call with just the click of a button.

While on a call, you have useful collaboration tools at your fingertips too. You can share your screen or allow your teammates to share their screens.

Headset and/or Webcam

While nearly all modern laptops have built in webcam and microphones in them, not all do. And if you have a desktop, you will not have that built in. A separate webcam will be needed.

In order to keep a conversation private, using a headset with a built in mic is also recommended. These come standard with every new mobile phone. A higher quality or wireless Bluetooth headset can make things even easier.

What’s your Status?

Be sure to monitor the Status for your teammates. Teams syncs with your Outlook and Office 365 Out of Office message so you only need to create this message once to see it across the platform. Pay attention to your colleagues’ status so that you know when they are available to respond.

Click your profile picture in the top right corner and you can change your status manually when needed. Because of the direct sync with Outlook through Office 365, If you have an appointment in your Outlook calendar, Teams will automatically adjust your status to show you as unavailable during that time.

Mobile App

Microsoft has a full range of mobile applications for all of the Office 365 suite, including Teams. The Teams mobile app gives you all the power of Teams, but in a smaller version that can fit in your pocket or on your tablet. You can respond to messages, reach out to teammates, attend meetings and even make and receive calls right from within the app.

Setting Up a Teams Meeting Calendar Invite

You can setup meetings directly inside Teams by clicking the Calendar tab on the left side of the app or you can use Microsoft Outlook to setup meetings in Teams. Teams syncs with your Outlook calendar and allows you to use the Scheduling Assistant to see your co-workers’ availability. From within Outlook, click the “New Teams Meeting” button to create a meeting.

This creates a link in the invitation that allows all your attendees to click the link to join your meeting. The meeting will show in your Outlook calendar as you would expect, but ALSO show in the Calendar tab in Teams.

Meetings Externally with Clients, Partners, etc

Now that you know how to use Teams with your internal co-workers, let’s talk about working with people outside your organization. You can schedule a Teams meeting with anyone with a valid email address even if they are not in your organization. They can be added directly to teams as Guests or added to meetings in order to participate and see presentations.

The same way you would use Outlook to schedule a meeting outside the organization, use the Teams Meeting button as described above. Note, however, it’s hard to impose on someone outside the organization that they must have a webcam and or headset with a microphone. This is where an Audio Add-In license can come in handy.

With an Audio Conferencing Add-on license in Office 365, a call in number with a Conference ID# accompanies the Teams link you send in your calendar invite.

This does not come standard so you would have to purchase a $4/mo license for each person who needs this.

Collaborating in Groups

The power of Teams, as the name suggests, is collaborating with teams of people. The Teams setup allows you to group your colleagues together on projects and communicate with each other through queued chats with topics and replies. Getting your team setup and running is the first step to successful collaboration using Teams.

Check out this 2-minute video from Microsoft to help get you started.

@Mentions and Team Channel mentions

If you need to get the attention of one particular teammate, or maybe all the members of a channel, then use an @mention in your posting. Just type the @ sign in your message and then start typing either the name of the team member or the name of the team channel. Select them from the list that starts to form and Teams will send either a specific notification to the person that someone is trying to reach them, or will notify the entire team that another team member is looking for a quick response. For the record, this trick works inside of most Office 365 apps as well, including Outlook. Try it for yourself and see!

Add Some Levity

One of the benefits of working with any team of people is the comradery that develops between the members. In these intense times, adding some levity to the daily workload helps keep the team in good spirits and allows everyone to have some fun working together. Microsoft Teams allows for you to add some fun to your messages through the use of GIF’s, Emoji Icons and others to spice up your messages and keep things lighter.

Further Resources:

Feel free to explore Microsoft Teams End User Training site that includes many videos and tutorials.

Additionally, you can also go through a guided tour using the Microsoft Teams Interactive Demo site.

Tell us what you think of this article and other topics that would interest you by emailing us at ask@optistartech.com or calling 888-782-9993.