Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that comes with various Office 365 corporate subscriptions, such as E1, E3, E5, Business Premium, and Business Essentials. It is also available in education plans like A1, A1 Plus, A5, and A3 subscriptions. Additionally, plans are in development to introduce Teams in the government cloud.
Accessing Teams is simple, as it can be done through a web browser, desktop application, or a mobile app. The number of users who can access the full functionality of Teams depends on the number of licensed users in the organization. Guest access is allowed, meaning users from other Office 365 tenants can be invited to an organization’s Teams hub without needing additional licenses.
Teams provides a wide range of features, including one-on-one or group audio and video calls, screen sharing during web conferencing, scheduling meetings, and recording those meetings. Furthermore, each user is allocated up to 1 TB of storage space.
For administrators, Teams offers tools to manage users and third-party applications. There are also reports available to analyze usage and settings that can be customized with organization-specific policies. Microsoft provides a 99.9 percent financially backed service-level agreement (SLA) uptime for Teams, ensuring reliability and peace of mind.
Exploring the Microsoft Teams User Interface
When using the Teams desktop application, the initial screen displayed after logging in is shown below:
The user interface consists of various sections and features. Here’s a breakdown:
This bar allows easy navigation to different sections in Teams. From top to bottom, you’ll find icons for:
- Activity, where mentions, replies, and other notifications are located.
- Chat, where recent one-on-one or group chats and your Contacts list are found.
- Teams, displaying all the teams you are a member of.
- Meetings or Calendar, synchronized with your Outlook calendar, showing all upcoming meetings.
- Files, which consolidates all files from the teams you are a member of. You can also access your personal OneDrive for Business storage here.
- Calls, providing a history of incoming and outgoing video and audio calls. You can also call others in your organization by simply typing their name.
- […] menu, including links to apps tied to Teams and the channels within Teams.
- Store, directing you to apps and services that can be integrated into Teams.
- Feedback, leading you to the Microsoft Teams user voice page where you can provide feedback about the service.
The Teams icon is selected in the App bar, displaying a list of teams the user is a member of.
A channel is a dedicated section within a team that organizes conversations and tasks based on specific topics or projects.
Join or Create a Team button:
Clicking this button guides you through the process of creating or joining a team. It is only visible when the Teams icon is selected in the App bar.
New Chat button:
Clicking this button selects the Chat icon in the App bar, enabling you to start a new chat with an individual or a group.
Found at the top, this bar allows you to perform searches across conversations, users, files, and apps. Additionally, you can run commands directly from the Command bar by entering a slash (/), which displays available commands or shortcuts to choose from.
These tabs are used to switch between different Teams pages. Conversations and Files are automatically included, while the “+” tab allows you to add shortcuts to content within Teams.
This section displays all conversations in the selected channel. Chats in Channel Conversations are persistent, meaning you can easily scroll through to catch up on any missed conversations. Visual indicators such as an @mention or a red bang highlight important chats. It is designed to be open, allowing everyone in the team to access the conversation and facilitate efficient decision-making.
This is where you can type a message to start a conversation. It allows for quick chats and provides access to rich formatting tools by expanding the Compose box.
Clicking this icon posts your chat to the team, allowing you to share your message with others.
Utilizing the Microsoft Teams Command bar
While Teams is intuitive to use, the Command bar serves as a helpful resource for quick assistance. It enables you to search across conversations, users, files, and apps. For instance, entering the word “launch” in the command bar will display search results grouped by messages, people, and files in the left pane.
Additionally, you can execute commands directly from the Command bar by typing a slash (/). This will show the available commands or shortcuts. Simply select the appropriate one from the provided list to initiate the command.
Collaborating in the Microsoft Teams Hub
Teams eliminates the chaos of long email chains. Users can upload files into the Teams channel, @mention the necessary individuals for feedback, and initiate conversations right from the document. This way, everyone can see each other’s comments and edits, ensuring everyone is well-informed and satisfied.
Creating and Managing a Microsoft Teams Hub
To collaborate in Teams, you need to be a member of a Teams hub or be the creator of one. Creating a team involves the following steps:
- Click Teams from the App bar.
- Click the Join or Create a Team link at the bottom of the App bar.
- Click the Create a Team card.
- Enter the team’s name and description.
- Choose the privacy settings (Private or Public) for your team. In a Private team, only team owners can add members, whereas a Public team allows anyone in the organization to join.
- Click Next.
- Add team members by entering their names, email addresses, distribution lists, or mail-enabled security groups in the Add box. A team can have a maximum of 2,500 members from your organization or external users through secure guest access.
- Optionally, you can assign roles (Owner or Member) to team members. If you forget to do this, you can update the membership later.
- Click Close.
Team management features can be accessed by clicking the ellipses next to your team’s name in the App bar. The available options include managing team members, adding channels, leaving the team, editing team details, obtaining the team link, and deleting the team.
Chatting in Microsoft Teams
When a new member is added to a team, they automatically gain access to all previous conversations, files, and other shared information within the team’s hub. This is especially useful for onboarding new team members to ongoing projects, as they can access the available content or seek assistance from others via chat.
To start a chat in Teams, simply click on the Compose Box and type your message while in the Activity, Chat, or Teams sections. When you’re ready, click the Send icon to post your message. Depending on your team’s culture, you can enhance your chats with emojis, giphys, or stickers. These options can be found by clicking the respective icons below the Compose Box.
To avoid a noisy conversation when multiple members discuss various topics, utilize the threaded messages feature in Teams. By replying directly to a specific message, your reply remains in context with the original message.
Sharing Files in Microsoft Teams
When creating a Teams hub, a corresponding SharePoint site and document library are automatically generated. Files uploaded in a Teams channel appear in the Files tab and are stored in the SharePoint library. You can also open files directly from SharePoint by clicking the ellipses next to the file name.
To share a file in Teams, follow these steps:
- Select Teams from the App bar.
- Compose a message in the Compose box within a channel.
- Click the Attach icon (paperclip) below the Compose box to select the attachment source.
- Upload the desired file from the source. The uploaded file will be embedded in the message.
- Click the Send icon (airplane) to post your message. The shared file will also appear in the Files tab. Alternatively, you can navigate directly to the Files tab and click the Upload button to add a file. Once uploaded, you can initiate a conversation with others regarding the document.
Meeting and Conferencing in Microsoft Teams
While chats facilitate quick communication, certain situations may call for a quick call or a more formal meeting to resolve issues efficiently. Teams offers a comprehensive meeting solution with audio and video conferencing capabilities. Users can start impromptu meetings without the need to switch applications, as calling capabilities are integrated within Teams.
For more formal meetings, you can schedule a meeting in Teams, similar to how meetings are set up in Outlook. Meetings created in Teams will be visible in your Outlook calendar, ensuring easy access and organization.
Setting up an impromptu Microsoft Teams meeting
To initiate an impromptu meeting while chatting with team members about a particular issue, follow these steps:
- Reply to the conversation thread and click the Video icon located at the bottom of the Compose box.
- In the video window that appears, enter a subject for your call.
- Toggle the video camera on or off to choose between sharing your video or audio only.
- Click Meet Now to begin the conference. A conference window will open, allowing you to invite others to join the meeting.
- To end the call and leave the meeting, click the red phone icon.
After the meeting, notes and conversations are saved to the channel, enabling those who couldn’t attend the meeting to quickly catch up on what they missed.
Scheduling a Microsoft Teams meeting
To provide notice about a meeting and allow participants to prepare, schedule a formal meeting in Teams. Similar to Outlook, formal meeting requests in Teams include a Meeting Title, Location, Start and End Date/Time, Details, and a list of participants. When selecting a channel for the meeting, artifacts from the meeting will be posted within the channel.
To schedule a Teams meeting, follow these steps:
- Click Meetings from the App bar.
- Click the Schedule a Meeting button at the bottom of the left pane.
- In the New meeting window, enter the Title, Location, Start and End Date/Time, Details, Channel, and the names of the people you want to invite.
- If you want to check participants’ availability, click Schedule Assistant above the Details section to view their availability based on their Outlook calendars.
- Click the Schedule a Meeting button. The meeting will be scheduled and appear in the Meetings section of Teams, as well as in your Outlook calendar.