These days – these crazy days – home is the new office and the hallway is the new commute. Sweatpants are the new business suit (admit it, you’ve been wearing them) and Monday is the new Friday, or Wednesday – who knows what day it is? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to send employees home to work remotely. How can your team maintain a collaborative environment while maintaining clear communication and project efficiency? If you find your team struggling with this and you’re looking for a solution – Microsoft Teams could be your answer. 

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a communication platform intended to enhance productivity by combining chat, video meetings, apps, documents and more into one interface where teams can collaborate on projects or topics. Chats are a natural way for teams to communicate, providing threaded, ongoing conversations so everyone can easily stay current. 

It’s free with all Microsoft 365 licenses

If you learn nothing else in this Microsoft Teams introduction, remember this: Microsoft Teams is available to all Microsoft 365 customers with business, enterprise, government, education and nonprofit licenses. It just needs to be turned on by your network administrator. Here’s how.

It’s fully integrated with Microsoft 365 apps

In Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365 becomes a true hub for teamwork. All the tools you need are at your fingertips including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Skype for Business, OneNote, Planner and Power BI. 

For example, if someone schedules a meeting, they can include pertinent Word and Excel documents, OneNote notes – whatever applies – so all those resources are available at the fingertips of everyone involved. You can even use connectors to bring in things like Twitter and Bing News. It all works through threaded chats which is a convenient way to organize content. The application here is vast, but as this is a Microsoft Teams introduction, we’ll move on. 

Microsoft Teams to replace Skype for Business

Fall of 2018Microsoft began onboarding all new Microsoft 365 customers under 500 seats to Microsoft Teams instead of Skype for Business. The chat functionality of Skype remains the same, but it’s now only available within Teams in the cloud. O365 customers who are using Skype for Business and started prior to this date will need to move to Teams by July 31, 2021, when Microsoft discontinues Skype for Business.  

It’s secure

Microsoft Teams provides enterprise-level security with key compliance standards including ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SSAE16 SOC 1 and SOC 2, HIPAA, and EU Model Clauses (EUMC). It also enforces two-factor authentication, single sign on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in both transit and at rest.

It’s customizable for each team

Workspaces can be adapted based on the needs of a team to be able to access the content and features they need every day. You can add tabs to provide easy access to frequently used documents and there are bots to help with quick actions. You can also use connectors to pull in updates from third-party vendors that are relevant to your team. 

It’s easy to get started with Microsoft Teams

This collaboration tool works on all major platforms. There are apps for Windows 10, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phones, including browser-based clients, which make it useable on almost any device. Once it is enabled, it’s fairly intuitive to get going. Here are some tips we learned from onboarding Microsoft Teams

It has competition

Microsoft Teams is not the first collaboration tool of its kind, with competition from Cisco’s Webex Teams, Google’s Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, and Slack, a tool that gained early adopters when it launched in 2013. 

A quick look at Teams vs. Slack will show many similarities among the interfaces, channels, chats, GIFs, assistant bots, etc. However, Team’s native integration with Microsoft apps allows you to work on Microsoft files within your workspace instead of downloading files and editing elsewhere like Slack. 

If you have an Microsoft 365 subscription, it doesn’t make sense for you to use any other collaboration tool because the full functionality of Microsoft Teams is already available to you and free versions of other tools will not be as robust. 

Are you ready to unlock Teams?
Hopefully this Microsoft Teams introduction has given you more context into how this tool could keep your team connected and working collaboratively without compromising efficiencies. For help deploying and managing Microsoft Teams, check out our Microsoft Teams Quick Start Program. Our engineers can help ensure a smooth transition.