10 Tips for Collaborating Better with Teams (Plus How to Get Microsoft Teams for Free!)

Mar 19, 2020 by HMB
This is the third post in our working remotely blog series. Follow us on LinkedIn to ensure you're alerted to our next post.
If your organization doesn’t have professional collaboration software in place, Microsoft recently announced that in light of COVID-19 they are offering a free 6-month Office 365 E1 Trial. This includes Microsoft Teams.

The software does require a special promo code that you can only get from Microsoft Partners or by working with a Microsoft account representative directly.

Click here to get access to your trial promo code and learn how to setup the Office 365 E1 Trial for your business.

We’re also offering free personalized virtual Microsoft Immersion Experience with one of HMB’s certified Microsoft Facilitators so you can get setup for success as quickly as possible. Click here to sign-up for the immersion experience and learn more!

In the meantime, whether you are brand new to Microsoft Teams, or looking to learn about some of its lesser known features, here are 10 tips for better collaborating with Microsoft Teams:

Tip #1: Collaborate with Video, Voice Chat, or Screenshare

 

Having a chat with a co-worker, but need to collaborate further?  Now is the time to embrace video and voice chat.

Don't be afraid to use your camera if your bandwidth supports it.  This will help keep you focused since you are on camera. Plus, it will help with the human interaction element we’re all missing in these challenging times.

To switch your text chat to voice, video or share-screen mode, click on the sharing buttons in your chat window.

Teams Multimedia Chat Options

 

Tip #2: Blur Your Video Background

 

As more and more video meetings are utilized while working remotely, consider using the Blur Background.  This will automatically blur out any distractions in your home office and ensure you are in focus. 

To access the blur background option, while your camera is enabled in chat, simply click the ellipses (…) on your Teams screen and select “Blur my Background.”

 

Blur Teams: Blur My Background 

 

You also have the option to turn on the blur setting before you join a meeting. To do this, toggle the blur icon setting to “on.”

 Teams Blur Background Toggle

Tip #3: Use a Virtual Whiteboard

 

Do you miss having an office whiteboard to brainstorm ideas with?  If so, great news!

Microsoft has a virtual whiteboard app you can use within Teams*.  This feature allows users to collaboratively draw on a whiteboard together.

*Note – the whiteboard app must be enabled by a Microsoft admin.

Teams Whiteboard Gif 

Microsoft has this to say about the Whiteboard app…

“Users can ink together in real-time on the board and even launch the native Whiteboard app to enable an even richer collaboration experience with features such as sticky notes, images, and gridlines. Ink Grab, enables you add analog content from a physical whiteboard onto the Whiteboard canvas without having to recreate it from scratch.”

Tip #4: Organize Chat Conversations with Labels

Are your group chats getting cluttered on the left-hand chat bar? 

Consider giving certain conversations a more meaningful label.

To name the conversation, click the pencil “edit” icon next to the names involved in the chat. This will give you the option to give the group chat a name.

Name Chat Group Teams 

*Note that this will change the name of the chat for all users involved in the chat.

Tip #5: Impromptu Meetings

Is a team chat getting unwieldy? Sometimes text chat just isn’t reactive enough.

When this happens, it may be time for an impromptu meeting. No need to set up a meeting the old-fashioned way through Outlook though!

You can start video or voice meeting with just one click.

To do this, click the video button to “meet now” and start an instant meeting.  Other team members will be notified it is starting and can join if able.

Meet Now Button Teams Channel

Note that this button only available within a Teams chat. To meet in regular chat, use the method mentioned in Tip #1.

 

Tip #6: Call out Individuals and Channels with “@”

 

If you need to get a channel or individual’s attention, the “@” symbol is where it’s at…

In group chats or in a channel type “@” and then start typing a person or channel’s name.

This will create a notification for the channel/individual and make it more likely that they follow up.

 

Tip #7: Follow Teams Etiquette

 

Just like in face-to-face interactions, there are certain faux pas you’ll want to avoid while conversing on Teams.

One example of proper Teams etiquette is replying to messages you’re responding to instead of creating a new chat thread.

Creating new conversations instead of replying to a comment can make a channel get cluttered very quickly

Using the reply link instead of the new conversation box to keep a response in line with a previous comment. This helps keep conversations on-topic and well-organized.

reply button teams 
Pro tip: You can also reply by using the shortcut “r” on your keyboard instead of manually clicking the reply link.

Other examples of best-practice Teams etiquette include:

  • Keeping chat messages short and concise
  • Paying attention to colleagues’ availability status before messaging them
  • Staying on mute when you’re not talking. This will help minimize any background noise
  • Turning off calendar notifications and alert noises when you are talking over your microphone

We recommend this free eBook if you want to learn more about Teams Etiquette.

Everyday Etiquette in Microsoft Teams eBook 

 

Tip #8: Download Teams Mobile and Desktop Apps

Download the mobile and desktop versions of Teams to easily access Microsoft Teams on your desktop, on the web, or on your iOS or Android mobile device.

When working on your laptop, we highly recommend the desktop version of Teams. It’s the most up-to-date with the newest features.

The iOS and Android versions are great for when you need to chat on-the-go.

Tip #9: Make Outlook Meetings Microsoft Teams Meetings

When creating meetings in Outlook set the meeting to be a Teams Meeting.

New Teams Meeting Outlook 

This is good practice even if you’re in the office because it gives attendees the option to go to the meeting remotely if they’re not able to make it to the office.

 

Tip #10: Share & Collaborate with Office Files

 

With Teams, it’s easier than ever to work with teammates on documents. From word docs, to PPT files, to Excel sheets, you can easily share these files and edit them in real-time with multiple team members.

When you upload a file to a Teams channel, it is automatically uploaded to a SharePoint folder specific to the channel you’re using.

You can also create a new file from within Teams:

Files Tab Teams Channels

What’s Next?

We hope you enjoyed these tips on how to better collaborate using Teams!

As a reminder, if you don’t have Teams, you can click here to get access to your trial promo code and get help setting up the Office 365 E1 Trial for your business.

And, if your organization would like to learn more about how to implement Teams in your organization, you can sign up for a virtual Microsoft Immersion Experience with one of our certified Microsoft Facilitators (for free!)

Click here to sign-up and learn more!

This workshop can be conducted virtually so we can all stay safe!

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