Microsoft Teams has become the preferred collaboration platform from Microsoft since late 2019. In addition to migrating users of Skype for Business to Teams, Microsoft has also added many new features for users that have started using collaboration platforms since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This software is similar to Slack or Zoom but is tightly integrated with other Microsoft tools.
Teams comes as a standard part of the Microsoft 365 suite. It is intended for use as an all-in-one platform for businesses to manage all their internal communications. In many ways, it can replace standard email workflows and serve as a centralized collaboration portal. Administrators can create unique team workspaces that each contain dedicated channels based on specific topics, departments or business functions.
In this post, we’ll explore some of Microsoft Teams’ unique features and the overall user experience. Microsoft is constantly updating Teams with new features and maintains a dedicated customer feedback forum at UserVoice. This allows you to communicate directly with Microsoft to suggest additional features that can benefit your organization.
Features & Benefits of Microsoft Teams
Screenshot via Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams was designed to helped facilitate team communication, and many of the central features address this core purpose. The streamlined dashboard allows users to quickly find and access the files, messages, and information they require. Below are a few of the most important features of Microsoft Teams.
Voice Chat and Messaging
A team collaboration platform should give users quick and easy access to their entire team. In Microsoft Teams, it is possible to initiate a private one-on-one chat or audio call from several different places. You can reach out to a colleague from the contact database, a meeting, or directly from a post in the team channels. Chats and calls can also be initiated as group discussions without the need to host a formal meeting. Users can also save messages for later reference and hide or mute chats at any time.
Meetings and Video Chat
In addition to voice calls, users can also initiate private one-on-one video calls with a simple click. Meetings are easy to set up and schedule with a maximum capacity of up to 250 people. Microsoft also offers an advanced communications add-on that increase the number of attendees to 1,000 or even up to 20,000 passive participants during live events. A new addition since the emergence of COVID-19 is Together Mode, which creates a casual shared work environment. Team members can join the space to mingle while working and customize backgrounds and virtual room layouts.
Microsoft 365 Apps
Perhaps the most useful feature of Microsoft Teams is the very tight integration with the entire family of Microsoft products. Users can create, update, and share files without having to navigate between multiple windows. All these documents, including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files, are automatically backed up in the SharePoint cloud environment. Team members can also collaborate on documents in real-time. Microsoft Teams supports single sign on (SSO) and two-factor authentication as part of the entire 365 suite.
Microsoft refers to integrations as connectors, and currently supports over 100 of them for Teams. You will find support for many popular enterprise and collaboration apps, including Zendesk, Mailchimp, SAP, Salesforce, and Evernote. With an active developer community, Microsoft is frequently adding new connectors and updating the capabilities of the existing offerings.
Microsoft Teams End User Experience
The end user experience in Microsoft Teams centers around the main user interface. This interface has a similar look and feel when compared to other competitive offerings such as Slack. In addition to the features listed above, these are some of the unique user experience qualities that makes Microsoft Teams stand out.
Joining and Hosting Meetings
Calling in to a meeting can be stressful, especially if you are in a hurry while balancing other tasks and commitments. Microsoft Teams will automatically mute your line when joining a call late so that you don’t unintentionally interrupt the flow of the meeting. You can also customize many features prior to joining, such as turning your camera off. Hosts can share their notes directly with all attendees, and a recording of the meeting will automatically be shared in the chat box after the call.
The Microsoft Teams mobile app looks a lot like many popular messaging app with an interface that highlights any recent conversations. It’s easy to access individual channel threads and message other users with just a few clicks, meaning team members won’t be wasting valuable time trying to find a way to contact a coworker when they’re not on their desktop.
Microsoft has added a Tasks feature for tracking individual and team actions from within the same platform. Users can view progress updates for any task and create custom Kanban boards to share with others. Another tool, Microsoft Whiteboard, allows team members to collaborate and brainstorm ideas using an interactive background. These features help to support seamless collaboration among distributed teams and can help to ease the challenges of switching to a remote work environment for those who are accustomed to working in an office setting.
Microsoft Teams has become an important tool for many businesses that were forced to adapt suddenly to a remote work environment. With the accelerated adoption of these collaboration platforms, Microsoft has positioned Teams as a major player in the market. As part of the basic Microsoft 365 package, Teams remains an accessible and powerful collaboration platform.