Microsoft Teams

Working from home? Here are 44’s five top tips to help your team stay connected remotely, with a little help from Microsoft Teams…

With more than 44 million daily active users signing into Microsoft Teams over the past week, it seems that the world is turning to Teams to support their virtual workplaces.

The platform can be used to chat, video call, share files and plan projects. What’s more, as Microsoft is making its premium version of Teams available for free for six months as part of an Office 365 trial, more and more businesses are signing up to the service.

For many companies, collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams have been a useful addition to their daily work routines for years. But they’ve suddenly become the must-have tool for countless colleagues throughout organisations. And that can feel daunting for those with little-to-no experience of using them.

At 44, Microsoft Teams has been our collaboration platform of choice for some time. So, here are our top five tips to help you maximise its usefulness and stay connected with your teams, wherever they may be:

1. Set your Teams up for success – ‘people not projects’

Spending some time building up your Teams pages can help you hit the ground running, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you’re part of too many threads and channels.

“Why not try building your teams around people instead of projects?” advises Alan Coates, 44’s Partner – Digital. “If you have dozens of active projects, separate streams can get confusing. But if you build your channels around your core team members, you can adapt them as necessary to suit your project needs.”

You might be tempted to plan out your project groups meticulously when you set up your Teams, but this can be hard to maintain when you have many busy collaborators managing their own workloads. Streamlining your channels and avoiding over-planning helps to keep things simple.

2. Try all the tools in the Teams toolbox

Microsoft Teams offers a suite of useful features that can help you to stay productive away from the office. If you’re new to the platform, take a little time to explore what’s on offer. Why not try…

  • Integrating Microsoft Planner with Teams. This will help you manage projects and keep your team to-do lists on track
  • Recording calls. If you’re on a paid plan, you can record your video and audio calls to playback at your convenience
  • Forwarding emails to your team. Simply click the ellipsis (…) on your Teams page, and then ‘get email address’. Anything emailed to this address will go straight to your Teams page for future reference.

The multifunctionality of Teams is a big bonus for collaboration. “Teams offers a great, in-picture service,” says Jonny Hooke, Digital Project Manager. “It allows you to multitask while on calls – you don’t have to switch between different tabs and windows.”

3. Establish an etiquette

Collaborating through Microsoft Teams is different to sharing an office. Here are some habits to help your team respect each other’s schedules and privacy:

  • Keep your status up to date. It automatically changes to match your Outlook Calendar, but if this isn’t accurate, make sure to let others know when you’re busy or available
  • When you mention a colleague, don’t forget to tag them by using ‘@’ before their name. This will make it much easier for them to find posts that are more urgent, or directly relevant to them
  • Don’t just assume that your colleagues are free for a Teams call. Whenever possible, schedule these in advance to make sure that they’re convenient for each member
  • Not everyone will have a dedicated office space at home, and some people may not feel comfortable sharing their personal spaces on camera. If you want a video call, agree this in advance. If in doubt, it’s polite to go for the audio option when you initiate a call.

4. Stay connected

It’s important for teams to feel connected to each other, even when they’re not face to face. Schedule regular catch-up calls to make sure everyone is kept in the loop and has the support that they need.

“We’ve been using Teams as a virtual whiteboard,” says Ellie Hanson, Editorial Assistant in our Experiences team. “Every morning, we run through each of our projects via a Teams call and update a shared document with the status of every task. It helps us all to stay on the same page.”

Sarah Woods, Content Specialist, is also an advocate for regular Teams catch ups. “I love our morning team calls,” says Sarah. “Seeing people’s faces makes me feel much more connected. Microsoft Teams is helping make me feel that although I’m working from home, I’m not working alone.”

5. Building Teams spirit

There’s a reason why Microsoft Teams is so popular with small organisations and startups – it’s more fun to communicate through Teams than traditional email. Take advantage of the option to add GIFs and personalised stickers to your conversations.

Working from home can be lonely if you’re not used to it. If your team is missing workplace chatter, why not schedule in ‘coffee break’ video calls a couple of times a week? Or, if you’re feeling a little more quirky…

“One of the things I love about working in an office is the random chat that goes on throughout the day,” says Sarah. “That’s the stuff that makes you laugh and feel part of the team. Which is why I post a Quarantine Question of the Day (#QQOTD) to our team. So far, we’ve had: If fruit could fight, who would win? And, if you were a chocolate bar, what would you be?”

Need more advice?

We know that every organisation has different communication needs, and every team will need to use Microsoft Teams a little differently.

If you’re looking for some specialist advice and guidance on how to get Teams working hard for your company, get in touch – or share your best suggestions in the comments below!