11 Useful Microsoft Teams Features You Need To Know

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the global workforce to undergo an unavoidable and seismic shift to remote work, which, let’s face it, was never going to be temporary. If anything, it meant that businesses all around the world had to digitally transform their norm to cope with the change and if they wanted to continue to be competitive and profitable.

One thing that helped many organisations remain productive and collaborative is Microsoft Teams, which allows employees to communicate, collaborate, connect and work together remotely and from any device and location, making it the perfect tool for remote work.

This blog will cover what Microsoft Teams is, why businesses should use it and what useful basic and advanced Microsoft Teams features there are that are designed to make your work life easier and more productive.

 

What is Microsoft Teams?

Ultimately, Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that allows communication for business. It uses a combination of video calling features as well as chat options through channels. With file and screen sharing options and ways to work collaboratively, it’s a system that works well for businesses anywhere.

Software like Microsoft Teams has been around for a while but rose in popularity during the pandemic as a way of connecting people both socially and for business. With this increase in users, there have been some extra Microsoft Teams features added to make the platform more accessible and useful to a wider range of businesses.

Why should businesses use Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams allows businesses to work together from anywhere. It’s a vital asset for companies working remotely and is the source of all communication. Whether it’s simulating big video conferencing meetings or the casual talk between friendly colleagues via messaging, it’s the glue keeping team members connected.

Not only does it add social value, but it’s also a useful way of storing information and conversations to refer back to, helping you keep on track of everything. Now that remote working is more popular, Microsoft Teams has become vital to this new way of working as the software replaces much of the need to be in an office. This has even allowed businesses to expand their workforce across countries and globally, as well as making the work environment more inclusive and accessible.

But Microsoft Teams isn’t just useful for remote working, it can also be used for client meetings, or as a way of staying up-to-date on internal communications.

 

What advanced Microsoft Teams new features are there?

There are many Microsoft Teams features that are available for businesses to take advantage of. Some are basic and some are advanced, the latter of which we will explain first below.

1.     Document storage in SharePoint

Sharepoint Online allows documents shared across all conversations to automatically save to a default library folder. This prevents documents from being lost once the conversation has closed, and they can be stored in one place. For any sensitive information, the permission settings can be customised for the specific document.

2.     Announcement feature

The Microsoft Teams announcement feature allows you to make your message in a team channel stand out. This is particularly useful when there are so many messages being posted to ensure an important message doesn’t get lost and is more likely to catch the attention of your colleagues. You can select different options to change the headline, add an image and more.

3.     Large online meetings

Many collaboration platforms are used for meetings online, though most just use a video call feature, which has many limitations such as number of users. Microsoft Teams has a specific online meetings feature to help enhance your business meetings.

With this Microsoft Teams feature, you can host up to 10,000 users both in the business and outside of it. This makes it perfect for large company-wide meetings as well as training sessions. It also includes additional features such as group chat messaging during the meeting, a scheduling and note-taking aid, and file uploading.

4.     Audio conferencing

This feature, where anyone can join in an online meeting through their phone, is quite unique to Microsoft Teams. The dial-in option means there is a number that can be used on people’s phones in hundreds of cities. There is even an additional option that can connect people to the audio conferencing without any internet connection, so people can listen while on the go.

5.     Telephony

Integrating systems or finding one that’s multipurpose makes running a business much smoother. It can also be very cost-effective as Microsoft Teams can replace your existing phone system. This is particularly useful for small to medium-sized businesses, and it allows you to integrate your communications with the rest of your Microsoft Office 365 software.

By adding M365 Business Voice to use as your full telephony, you can give employees their own phone numbers as well as setting up a menu that can help callers reach the specific department they need.

6.     Custom backgrounds

As a significantly larger part of the population work from home, using custom backgrounds can be really useful as it doesn’t matter what your location is.

You can choose to blur your background so that you become the focus of the video meeting, avoiding distractions in the background or just hiding some unwanted clutter. Or, you have the option to change the background entirely, either from a preset option or a personalised one by uploading your own image.

7.     Breakout rooms

One of the most popular features of Microsoft Teams, breakout rooms are a way of separating a large group of people in an online meeting into smaller, separate groups. This can be useful for discussions and brainstorming during company meetings – and the breakout rooms can be randomised or chosen by the meeting host.

8.     Accessibility features

Microsoft Teams accessibility features are vital, particularly as the world went online during the pandemic, people of all backgrounds and abilities relied on collaboration software to connect.

This means it has to be inclusive to everyone, so Microsoft Teams has a host of accessibility features to help, which are some of the more hidden features of the tool. These include in-built screen readers, magnifiers, dictation software and voice and eye control.

9.     Multi-factor authentication

With a greater focus on data-privacy, Microsoft Teams ensures that security is tight so users’ details are protected. This is done through their multi-factor authentication process, which minimises security issues such as hacking.

10.Third-party integrations

To make collaboration easier, Microsoft Teams opened up the option for third-party integrations so that you can use other apps within meetings and calendars. Providers such as ZenDesk and Asana have joined in with this.

11.Together Mode

There are many options for video chat and calling, all of which have been used in abundance during the pandemic to help people feel more together.

However, people are still seemingly segregated by their assigned rectangle on the screen. Microsoft Teams’ “Together Mode” is a cool feature designed to build each person as an avatar so that the team appears all together in a virtual auditorium. It’s effective because it works based on the known psychological fact that humans are inherently social, and “Together Mode” creates the feeling of a social gathering.

Key features of Microsoft Teams

As with many other platforms, Microsoft Teams comes with all the basic features you need to successfully communicate as a business:

  • Channels – the base set-up of Microsoft Teams allows you to have different public and private channels to communicate in via messages. This provides a way of managing different projects or groups so that conversations are contained and remain relevant.
  • Messaging – basic features such as the conversation search also aid this, as does the use of message threads, which mean Microsoft Teams users can respond to a specific message to avoid too much noise in a channel.
  • Video calling – even at the basic level, Microsoft Teams allows you to seamlessly transition into a video call from a channel, one-to-one or even a scheduled meeting, which is another feature that allows you to organise meetings through a calendar.
  • Visual interaction – although it is a system used mostly by businesses, the platform has many features that are similar to that of social media, including the use of emojis, gifs and stickers.
  • Mentions – to make it easier to be notified and in the loop, a basic feature of Microsoft Teams is the @Mentions that can be used in a conversation (either a threaded conversation or in a channel) to notify a particular person and bring them into the loop without having to scroll through other conversations happening simultaneously.

 

It’s clear that a platform such as Microsoft Teams can really bring businesses together, particularly when working remotely. It’s a great way of keeping everyone connected and up to date. And some of the newer, improved features such as “Together Mode” and telephony mean you can have everything in one place, making communication seamless and effortless.

 

If you would like more advice or information on our Microsoft Teams and tools consultancy services , don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.