Onboarding Microsoft Teams company-wide was on our project forecast, but “safer at home” encouraged us to roll it out much sooner – and we’re glad we did! It brings the components of Microsoft 365 into a central communications hub that is reasonably intuitive and simple to navigate. Check out this Microsoft Teams introduction to get a better understanding of all that Teams can do.
Here’s what you’ll need to know about onboarding Microsoft Teams:
Create your teams
Teams are designed to be a virtual place where people can come together, with all the tools they need, to share information or collaborate on a common workstream. You can have as many teams as you need, and individuals can be on multiple teams.
Properly choosing and organizing your teams are key. Our goal was to shift from communicating through email threads – which can be hard to find or easily broken – to Microsoft Teams in order to streamline and simplify communication. Having well-structured teams keeps all related information in one place.
At CCB, while we have a few company-focused teams for general announcements, most of our teams are department-based, since those are the people we collaborate with most. In marketing, we have teams like Email, Blogs, and Website, since they are things we frequently work on together. However, we also have a Podcast team that crosses departments.
Pro tip: To avoid teams sprawl, you can set policies in your Teams administration to only allow certain people to create and manage teams.
Your teams are meant to be broken down by channels – these are the specific projects or conversations you’re having around a topic. For example, under our Blog team, I created a channel for this specific article called Onboarding Microsoft Teams. Within that channel I shared my drafts, got feedback from my team, and dropped in images to include. Having everything in one place simplifies the creation process and allows others to see progress and comment as they like.
It’s simple to add a channel to your team by clicking the three dots to the right of your team name and choosing “Add channel.” You can also set policies for who to include in a channel in case it doesn’t pertain to the entire team.
Pro tip: The default “General” channel is included in all teams and cannot be deleted or renamed. It’s used for non-channel-specific announcements and common chat among that team.
Make the most of your channels
Within each channel is everything you need to work with your team and get your job done.
Add a tab
At the top of each channel, you can create tabs for quick access to information that you frequently use. It’s similar to bookmarks on your web browser, but these tabs take you to your files and other team assets. Default tabs are built-in, but you can add others as needed, such as a website you frequent often, YouTube videos, and most document types. When you click on the tab, the content loads right there in Microsoft Teams.
Share, store and edit files
Within your channels you can collaborate on documents with your entire team in real-time – just like you would in-person. When you add a file to your channel, it saves to your file tab at the top. You can also create new files from there as well right within your team.
Your team can access these files together within the channel, chat about changes and edit them right away. This provides greatly enhanced efficiency and productivity. If you want the full experience of the native file apps, you can open in Word, Excel, OneNote, etc. and it will update in Teams.
Your teams’ files are automatically saved on a SharePoint site, giving you all of the security of Microsoft 365.
Microsoft Teams Wiki
This has become one of our favorite features since onboarding Microsoft Teams. We use it to share specific procedures, policies, and best practices related to each team. There are many reasons why this is such a handy tool.
You can save details about important processes, which allows others to know how to correctly perform a specific task or helps with training new employees. That stops information from walking out the door when a person leaves.
Some of the things our marketing team uses wiki for are instructions on how to update WordPress, our branding guidelines and image specs, frequently used html codes, and design program processes – to name a few!
Pro tip: Every single channel has a wiki, but you might not want to use them all as it could get confusing. We often use the wiki under the “General” channel for the entire team.
Posts and Chat
We have teams, we have channels, we have tools – let the communication begin! There are two ways to message people within Microsoft Teams: posts and chats. They’re fairly similar but location sets them apart. Posts are the chat conversations that happen within a channel, and chats take place outside of your teams.
Chats are great for quick questions to one or more people, Monday morning memes, or communicating with people not in your teams.
Posts are the conversations that take place around the topic of your channel. It’s important to share those messages in the channel so that all details are clearly communicated to team members. If you put it in a chat instead, it becomes unrelated to a specific channel topic and might get lost, slowing your progress and frustrating team members.
What sets posts apart from chats, is that you can have threaded conversations where you can create topics for easier navigation. Back to my blog example: within the channel I might create topics called “First draft ready for review” and “Images needed,” where I can work on each item separately with the team members involved. This helps to quickly catch up on conversation topics without having to read posts that are irrelevant to you.
Pro tip: When you create a new post within your channel, give it a headline so it’s easy to keep related details on the same thread. If you’re replying to a conversation, be sure to hit “reply” instead of starting a new conversation – it’s easy to miss.
Messaging features in posts and chats:
Just like you can do in Microsoft Outlook, in Teams you can add formatting to your messages to highlight important details and make it easier to read. Options include normal styles like bolding and highlighting, to adding tables, links, quotes and more. You can also make announcements in posts to really get your team’s attention.
With channel posts, you can easily and quickly alert a person or group to your new message by using the “@” symbol. @name reaches a person, @team reaches the whole team, or @channel notifies just those in that specific channel. This comes in handy when you have many teams and communications happening at the same time.
Mark as unread and bookmarking
Just like email, you can save a message to come back to them later or mark them as “unread” so you don’t forget to respond. These little features help you keep track of what you need to do.
Emojis, gifs, stickers and read receipts
This mostly sounds fun – which it is – but it also can keep things tidy and be a huge time saver. Within both posts and chats, you can use one of six emojis to show how you feel about a message, with the thumbs up being the frequent go-to. If you need to express your feelings further, you can respond with any number of emojis, gifs, stickers or memes.
If someone hasn’t used one of these simple methods to acknowledge your message, you can at least tell if they read it by the little eye icon that appears next to it. These features keep conversations efficient and fun while eliminating back and forth emails to say, “got it” “thanks” “will do.”
Pro tip: We have enough noise and distraction at work, and Microsoft Teams notification settings make it easy to see what’s important and ignore the rest until you have time to review it.
Virtual meetings and calls
If messaging just isn’t cutting it and you want to talk it out, you can start a meeting with a team by clicking “meet now” in the top right corner. If you have video enabled, you will see the participants tiled in the window. You can also share your screen to show others what you’re working on.
Within chats you can also place a video or audio call. The nice thing about both options is that with one click, you can invite several people to a call at one time.
Pro tip: There’s so much more! You can view your Outlook calendar right within Teams or add a Microsoft Planner tab to your channel to make it easy for your team to stay organized by assigning tasks and tracking progress – everything is at your fingertips.
Have you tried Microsoft Teams yet?
It has transformed our work experience for the better here at CCB. It truly brings together Skype, SharePoint, and Office into an easy and efficient way of communicating. Microsoft continues to update the tool and add new features.
Setting it up properly was key to successfully onboarding Microsoft Teams. If you’re not sure how to make it work for your organization or don’t have the time to get started, our engineers can help you implement and manage Teams effectively with our Microsoft 365 Support. It even includes consulting and end user training. Let us know if we can help!