Has your company started using Microsoft Teams recently? Are you looking for advice on using MS Teams more effectively?
FACT: Microsoft Teams has revolutionized how teams work together, collaborate, and get work done.
Having said that, MS Teams can also pose a challenge. It is quite a robust tool, after all. With so many features and options available, it’s easy to overlook the many ways to make the most of Microsoft Teams.
Hence this guide. In this article, you’ll learn how to use Microsoft Teams effectively. What’s more, I’ll also share some personal tips with you to help your team members become more efficient with MS Teams
But before that, let’s get something out of the way – should you be using Microsoft Teams in the first place?
Why Use MS Teams?
No matter the size of your company, Microsoft Teams is one of the best business communication platforms out there.
Here, the data proves it too. Over 145 million people use MS Teams daily.
- Its usefulness goes way beyond chatting. You can share files on MS Teams. You can call/video call any colleague, share screen, integrate with other Office 365 products, host live events, and do much more. You can even use MS Teams for customer service.
- Thanks to AppSource, you can integrate third-party tools like Trello, ClickUp, Zoom, Asana, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc., with MS Teams & enable further productive teamwork.
- Microsoft constantly updates & adds new features to the Teams.
- MS Teams browser app, desktop app, iOS app, and Android app make for a seamless real-time experience for its on-the-go users.
- The Office 365 subscription includes MS Teams, so businesses don’t need to pay extra if they are already on a Microsoft 365 plan.
In short, it goes without saying – No other tool offers so many benefits to power and drive your business forward than Microsoft Teams.
And here’s how to use it effectively:
How to Get the Most of MS Teams
Below, you will find 12 tips & tricks that’ll help you become the MS Teams user you seek to become.
1. Avoid duplicate team names
One of the first things you’ll do when launching MS Teams is to create a team (or join an existing one).
Let’s say you’re joining a team. But if there are two teams with the same name, you’ll get confused about which one is yours every time you open Teams, right?
You should keep that in mind if you’re the one creating a team.
Now, duplicate team names are confusing, obviously. But unfortunately, Microsoft allows using duplicate names in MS Teams, and it’s up to you to ensure that there are none in your account.
Let me illustrate the impact of having duplicate team names with an example. Let’s say that your iOS team is creating an iOS app, and the Android team is creating an Android app. For project managers of both teams, it’s the XYZ app team. Hence, both can create a team “XYZ app discussion” on MS Teams, leading to much confusion between teams. That’s the situation you want to avoid.
The simplest way to do so is by asking the team leaders/managers to check all group names before naming. Then, they can simply type the name in the MS Teams search bar to find whether it exists or not.
2. Set up naming conventions
Another way to avoid duplicate names and make teams & channels navigation experience better is to have strict naming conventions.
In practical scenarios, individuals are often in more than one team. A naming convention helps such users navigate faster.
Again, let me illustrate this with a simple example.
Let’s pretend that you run a digital agency and one of your employees takes care of clients’ social media. Now, there are several ways to create a team/channel for the individual. For instance, you can create just a general social media team channel where you discuss everything regarding social media or have a team per each client and a specific “social media” channel per each team — which one’s better?!
A naming convention such as “Name of The Project – Country – Project,” “Name of The Project – Department – Project,” “City – Country – Store,” “Department Name – Country – Department,” etc., can make the MS Teams experience more efficient.
3. Use chats for one-to-one messages and general channels for collaboration
In MS Teams, there’s a Chat option and a Teams option. Both are for different things; put shortly, use chats for one-to-one messages and channels for collaboration.
This piece by AvePoint explains the use cases for both excellently. Let me summarize the main points for you:
- You should use Chat when you want to notify the other person & continue the conversation on the side while doing your job. It’s mostly private and informal.
- You should use Teams for collaboration & group discussions. If you add a new member to the channel/team, you can let him/her check previous messages and files uploaded to the connected SharePoint team site.
4. Make important groups private to let the team focus on their work
Sometimes, some discussions don’t need the input of many channel members. In such cases, keeping the discussion going in the same channel can distract them from doing what they are supposed to do.
For example – You don’t need to keep the social media scheduler in the loop when discussing creatives.
Therefore, creating a private group where only the related members can discuss and view messages makes a lot of sense.
5. Set up teams for each project
I discussed this a bit in the “naming conventions” section. However, manyFor example, if times, some of the same people work on different projects.
Therefore, it’s essential to set up teams for each project, wherein the discussions & files remain exclusive to the project team. This makes searching & navigating a lot easier for the team members.
6. Familiarize your team with Folders and Files
MS Teams offers robust file-sharing capabilities. The thing is, however, that the system stores all the files & folders on Sharepoint. This includes every file and folder shared during the discussion or manually added via the “Files” tab at the top of each channel.
It’s your responsibility to familiarize your team with this feature. Then, they can add, view, download, and reshare the same files & folders directly to/from Sharepoint via MS Teams.
7. Set up Notifications
Not all notifications are essential. For example, you don’t necessarily need to know the lunch discussions happening in the chat group; neither do you want a pop-up every second from teams & private channels with 150 members.
Setting up your notifications properly is perhaps the best hack to use Microsoft Teams efficiently, if not effectively. Here’s how you do it:
- Click on your profile picture at the top-right corner in Teams.
- Go to Settings and click on Notifications.
- There, you can customize the notifications you want to receive. You can also choose to get an email once every 10 minutes/hour/8 hours/day if you miss a message.
8. Do not set files library private
If you are a team owner, you can manage all the files and folders in the team/channel. Ensure you never set the files library to private unless you don’t want team members to view the file.
By default, the owners and members can edit the files/folders, and viewers can view them.
9. Connect Teams with Live Chat
Did you know that you can use MS Teams as more than an internal collaboration platform?
For one, you can connect live chat with MS Teams.
This way, you can chat with your current and potential customers immediatelychanges and support them in real-time from the software you have open all day.
Meaning, instead of the customer having to send an email or submit a support ticket and be dissatisfied with delayed responses, you get to build a great customer experience. And if you didn’t know, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
Moreover, a confused customer is way more likely to ask via live chat than take his/her time to find your email & send concerns. In other words, connecting MS Teams with Live Chat essentially helps you pull potential customers into the sales funnel.
10. Set up all calendar meetings in Teams, not Outlook
Team meets are a vital part of running successful projects. Microsoft’s Outlook + Skype for Business is a great tool to schedule & conduct team meetings. However, Microsoft’s Teams just makes it easier by integrating the Meetings functionality on the platform.
You can schedule a meeting and notify team members directly from Teams. Even better, if you need to discuss things over the call while having a chat on the teams, you can simply “Meet Now” and start the meeting right away.
11. Use Notes in Teams to collaborate on documents
OneNote is Microsoft’s note-taking application, primarily used for free-form information gathering and collaborations. It provides a hub for all your notes. You can organize notes into separate notebooks, create sections within notebooks, add multimedia documents, write notes, and do much more with it.
Thanks to OneNote integration, you can collaborate on documents & take notes directly from MS Teams.
Brainstorm ideas. Collect information. Take notes in the meeting. Share screenshots. There are a lot of use cases of using Notes in Teams & improving workflow.
12. Change background for video calls
The last tip I have for you — specifically for times like these when so many of us have to work remotely — is to change the background for calls.
Here’s how you can do it in Teams:
- Before joining the meeting, click on three dots beside the screen sharing option.
- Choose “Show background effects”.
- There, you’ll be able to either blur your background or add a custom image.
Microsoft Teams is one of the best business communication platforms on the market today. But I admit that it can also be a little confusing at first. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get the most out of it with the tips I shared with you above.