In our current situation, it is more important than ever to successfully collaborate with our colleagues whilst working from home.
In order to allow employees to continue working efficiently from home, Microsoft has made its new collaboration platform ‘Teams’ available for free! You may even already have it. In fact, Microsoft recently announced that Skype will be definitively replaced by Teams in 2021.
Here at UpSlide, we work in synchronization by using many of the different Microsoft Teams functions including the chat, video calls and recording meetings function.
Here are our tips to help you get to know your new tool and master it in just 6 steps!
1. Download Microsoft Teams
(If you are already a Teams user, go to section 3: Managing your conversations)
Before downloading Microsoft Teams, make sure you consult your IT department or coordinate with your teams so that everyone is using the same tools and that it complies with your cyber security standards.
2. Understand and use Microsoft Teams
Once Microsoft Teams has been installed on your computer, open the application. A purple window then opens, consisting of four main sections:
Search bar: The very powerful search engine integrated into Teams allows you to easily find a contact, conversation or shared file, etc.
Teams menu: This allows you to easily navigate between your notifications, conversations, groups, calendar and more.
Profile and settings: This is where you can customize the application according to your needs (more details in section 5: Customizing the tool).
Active conversation: This is where you can chat with your colleagues.
3. Manage your conversations on Teams
Be careful, it’s important to note the difference between conversations and groups on Teams. The latter are linked to SharePoint sites and are therefore more appropriate for teams that communicate on a very regular basis and who need a common workspace.
In this section, we will only discuss conversations and video-conference calls.
Are you ready for your first conversation?
- Start a chat with more than 2 people: Click on the icon to the left of the Teams search bar.
- Rename the conversation however you like: Click on the small pen next to the name of the participants (or the conversation name if it already has one).
- Pin the chat so you can find it easily: Go to the list of conversations and choose the ones you want.
- Use conversation tabs to receive updates on projects or share information such as meeting minutes, files or resources.
Now let’s look at how you can use the chat:
- React to a message by hovering the mouse above.
- Mention a colleague, by typing “@”.
- Edit or delete a message with a mistake, by clicking on the message and then clicking “…”.
- Start a call in one click by choosing one of the different options on the top right of your screen (video call, audio call or share screen).
4. Host a successful video conference
Simply holding a meeting is not enough: it has to be as effective and efficient as a physical meeting! Here are our best practices to make your video conferences a success:
- Before the meeting, adjust your settings in this window:
- Activate your camera if necessary. If you have poor connection, we advise you to turn it off, as it uses a lot of the bandwidth.
- If you use a webcam, you can blur your background to ensure privacy.
- Activate your microphone only when you need to speak, otherwise stay muted to avoid any unprecedented sounds disturbing the meeting.
- Finally, always check your hardware and make sure it is well connected: Teams might not detect your headset immediately, but you can activate it manually in Settings.
- During the conference, you can:
- Record the meeting for anyone absent.
- Share your screen (in this case, a PowerPoint presentation)
- Use the instant messenger, it’s helpful for people wanting to ask questions without disturbing the presenter!
- Request to take control of the meeting
During your team calls, Teams switches between the cameras/images of those speaking, so you may need to pin the camera of one of your colleagues when they are presenting by clicking on “show participants” and then selecting the “pin” option for one of your colleagues.
Other options, including the settings which are available before joining the conversation (see above), are also available via the “…” button:
- For example, the sound may not be working with your headphones. To check your audio settings just click on “…“, then on “Display device settings” to choose your audio settings.
- Spice up your conference calls! Why not host them on the beach or from deep space? Just change your background image by clicking on the three-dot button > Show background effects (you can even try to add your own custom image as a background while waiting for Microsoft to officially add the option).
Our special trick to make meetings run smoothly – appoint a chairperson who will make sure everyone participates in the meeting, help you avoid potential interruptions and stay on track, and to take notes to send out a summary to participants.
5. Customize the tool
For a better experience on Teams, take a look at the settings in order to be able to customize:
- Your notifications: just like emails, notifications distract you and impact your productivity. So that you don’t get interrupted, click on your profile in the top right corner > Settings > Notifications and then under “Messages” chose “disable”.
If you prefer to receive notifications under normal circumstances but need to have a meeting without being disturbed, or simply concentrate for the next hour, you can temporarily activate the “Dot not disturb” mode.
- Your display settings: If you are a heavy Teams user, we recommend enabling dark mode to help your eyes with the blue light and save your computer battery!
- Your backup man: If you are unable to be present, having someone who can take your calls and make decisions on your behalf can be very helpful.
- Set a message to be sent when someone contacts you. Click on your profile in the top right > Set status message. You can also choose how long the message appears for.
- Appoint people to receive messages or calls for you. To do this go to Settings > General > Manage delegates.
- Forward incoming calls so that others can pick up the phone. This is also ideal when you have a standard or support number that can be answered by more than one person. Go to Settings > Calls > Call answering rules.
6. Be more productive in Teams
You probably already know that at UpSlide, we’re productivity fanatics! Here are our tips for saving time on Teams:
- Keyboard shortcuts: when mastered, they save a considerable amount of time. Like all Microsoft applications, Teams has many shortcuts. You can view them by clicking on your profile at the top right > Keyboard shortcuts.
- Quick controls: these are functions that allow you to use Teams at lightning speed! For example, you can make a test call to check your equipment with the command “/testcall” or call a colleague by typing “/call” followed by their name.
In the search bar and type ” / ” to display them all.
- Applications: Teams has its own App Store which allows you to add features and to synchronize it with other software. Our developers love “Polly“, which enables you to create polls in the blink of an eye!
- Outlook: Teams is compatible with Outlook as it is part of the Microsoft range. This allows you to synchronize your calendar and even add Teams links directly to your Outlook invitations!
- Trello: the Trello app integrates directly into Teams, making it possible to receive updates on projects and monitor your team board without switching platforms.
- SharePoint: connect your SharePoint site directly with Teams to edit and share your documents in seconds. Access your recent files from the Teams side menu (Ctrl + 6). Yet another example of the power of the Microsoft suite, ensuring your programmes work together in perfect harmony!
*Note that each new Teams group (not conversation) generates a new SharePoint site, so be sure to use them sparingly.