The way we work has been evolving for years—this evolution driven by technology and the changing mentalities of modern employers. Office spaces have become increasingly open and relaxed, and flexible & home working continues to rise in popularity.
Businesses understand that giving their employees the best tools and an engaging environment will inevitably increase productivity. It’s a win-win, with companies benefiting from the increased productivity and employees feeling valued and equipped to carry out their roles.
A considerable part of this revolves around communication and collaboration within an organisation. They are fundamentals and the difference between a productive or unproductive workspace. They are what gets stuff done!
Nevermore so than in 2020 have businesses had to tool-up their teams at pace. When the pandemic hit and entire workforces began to work from home, communication and collaboration tools became essential (not just nice to have).
Without technological advancements, this would not have been possible. Imagine the pandemic had happened thirty years earlier, when remote working wasn’t a realistic option? The economic consequences would have been catastrophic.
With the advent of communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, many businesses circumnavigated the challenges of having their entire payroll at home. It’s safe to say that without tools like this, there will have been businesses that would not have survived.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a collaborative workspace that helps internal and external teams communicate with ease and work towards common goals. It aims to increase productivity by centralising conversation, video calls, document sharing and more, all in one place.
Microsoft Teams is included as part of Microsoft Office 365 and replaces Skype for Business, which Microsoft announced they are retiring at the end of July 2021. Being part of Office 365 means the app comes at no additional cost. There are some additional costs involved if extra services are required. As an example, if you want to set Teams up to become your singular internal phone system.
Microsoft Teams doesn’t just allow a variety of ways to communicate. It also brings all of the Office 365 application family together under one roof so users can share, interact and collaborate. These apps include Word, Excel and Powerpoint, to name just a few.
How does Microsoft Teams work?
Microsoft Teams allows organisations to split their employees into many teams. For example, you could have a finance team, another team for marketing and many others to suit your business structure. Smaller organisations might have the entire office as one team. It’s all down to your organisation’s needs or preferences.
Some organisations have taken a reasonably holistic approach to Teams, allowing them to grow organically within the business and not restricting employees too much. Others have taken a more controlled approach, planning all the teams and limiting employee’s access to what they can create themselves. Both have merit, but again, it’s down to your organisation.
The Office 365 Admin controls what is allowed in Microsoft Teams. Organisations can restrict or grant access to Teams features at the user level to meet its current business policies and guidelines. Teams can also be private, so there is no need to worry about sensitive business information becoming exposed to the entire organisation.
When you create a team, it creates a Microsoft Group for those members, automatically connecting members to services like OneNote and SharePoint and connects them to the Microsoft app suite. All of the team members can then access files, apps and communication tools together in the Microsoft Teams app.
Within each team, users or admins can set up channels. A general chat channel is added by the system when first creating a team, and after that, it’s down to the users to make additional ones. Channels could be anything from a daily admin task that involves information from different users to a large longer-term project.
As mentioned, some organisations may want to have one team for all employees. If this is the case, they could then use channels within that team for different business departments.
The conversation is at the heart of Microsoft Teams. You can voice call, video call, hold online meetings and share files and collaborate on them. Group chats within your team can sit alongside apps like Excel, allowing team members to discuss changes and work on the document simultaneously. These chats will even record in your conversations tab for future reference.
You can mention team members using the @ symbol, e.g., @john.smith. The Teams system will see these and automatically notify the person mentioned. Users can like conversions or add comments, and emojis are allowed, adding a real sense of engagement. It has the look and feel of a social media platform, which can bring the team together positively.
Teams is fully integrated into your Outlook calendar, meaning all of your meetings will automatically sit within Teams. You can arrange meetings in Teams for your team members; however, to schedule meetings with external guests, you will still need to pay a visit to Outlook.
Users can also access a wealth of Microsoft’s suite of apps without even leaving their Teams window. Users can switch between Word and Excel and access files on ShareDrive and OneNote to edit, co-edit, share, move or delete. It might take a little getting used to when traditionally, this has involved opening multiple apps and browsers.
This functionality is what sets Microsoft Teams apart from its competitors. Accessing all the Office 365 apps and document storage means Teams almost becomes a company-wide desktop. Add in the ability to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, and it’s easy to see why Teams has become a shining star in Microsoft’s portfolio.
Microsoft Teams can also be highly beneficial to smaller businesses, which may not have the advanced business systems and software systems that larger enterprises have. By setting out structured teams and channels, the exchange of vital business information can be significantly streamlined, increasing accuracy and saving time.
It’s fair to say that Microsoft Teams has helped facilitate a new way of working. Although others offer similar products, Teams has given itself a clear advantage by incorporating its app suite into the mix. Many businesses use Microsoft Office, so Teams becomes an obvious choice when deciding which communication tools to adopt.
If your business is considering making a move to Microsoft 365, then we can help. As Microsoft Gold Partners, we have helped countless businesses with their migration.
If you want to speak to one of our Microsoft 365 experts, you can request a free callback here.