what is microsoft teams

What is Microsoft Teams?

As we’re working from home at the moment, there’s never been such demand for video calling. And with so many different video calling apps available, it can be difficult to choose the right one for you.

But unlike other video conferencing apps, Microsoft Teams offers so much more. In fact, the video calling functionality is only scratching the surface of what Teams can do. Do you use Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365)? You get access to Teams with your subscriptions.

Teams is Microsoft’s chat and collaboration app, designed to be your main hub for communicating with colleagues. Whether you’re a small business, large enterprise or freelancer, Teams is ideal for communication and collaboration.

Video and Audio Calling

Most people are aware of Microsoft Teams’ video calling and conferencing. From scheduled conference calls to ad hoc chats with co-workers, calling is one of the most popular features in Teams.

There a number of ways to make ad hoc calls. An easy way is to go to the Calls tab and click Make a call. Type the name of the person you want to call and click either the audio or video button. And if you want to schedule a conference call go to Calendar tab and select + New meeting. Alternatively, you can schedule a Teams meeting in Outlook.

Chat

Another popular feature of Teams is chat. Whether you want to chat 1:1 or in a bigger group, you can! Select the New chat icon to the left of the search bar and select your recipients, type your message and hit enter to send. If you want to message an entire team, you can type in their team name, rather than each person individually, saving you time.

Chat is a great way to reduce internal emails. Gone are the days of long conversations on email threads – and through different threads. With Teams, all your messages are in the same place, making it easier to keep up with everything.

Did you know that you can rename group chats? Rather than the chat name being the same as the participants, you can make it whatever you’d like! If you’re working on a particular project together, give it a specific name, so it’s easier to find later.

Top tip: do you have colleagues you chat to regularly? Try pinning the chat – right click the chat and choose Pin. You won’t lose track of important chats again!

Teams and Channels

Teams and channels are key to collaboration. A team is a group of people brought together for work, projects or common interests. You might want to set up a team for your business’ departments – a finance team, a sales team, a marketing team etc.

Teams are made up of channels, and channels are where the magic happens! You can have channels for specific parts of your business, to make sure all relevant conversation is in the right place. By default, every team has a General channel – perfect for general announcements and anything general you’d normally send a group email about.

Files

The files tab is where you can see all of your files in Office 365. Your Teams is linked to your OneDrive automatically, making Teams another place you can see all your files. But unlike OneDrive, when you open a document, for instance a Word document, it will open in Teams, rather than Word. It reduces the number of apps you have open, helping with PC performance! If you’d prefer, you have the option to work in the original app.

You can share files with any of your colleagues. In a chat, click the paperclip icon to upload a file from your computer or OneDrive. And for files that you and your team regularly work from, you can make them tabs in a channel. Choose any file that’s been uploaded to a channel, right click and select Make this a tab.

Apps

Chances are, you and your team use a number of different apps. You can add apps to Teams to get even more out of it. If you use project management apps like Planner or Trello, you can integrate them with Teams to give you an overview of your tasks and deadlines.

Apps are split into five groups:

  • Personal apps let you see everything you’re doing in different teams
  • Bots let you search for and share information from different apps
  • Tabs let you pin content at the top of a channel
  • Connectors send notifications directly into a channel where everyone can see them
  • Messaging put rich content in conversations

We recommend that you experiment with apps. See which of the apps you regularly use integrate with Teams!

Microsoft Teams is a fantastic tool to chat and collaborate with your colleagues. If you’d like to learn more, check out our Teams training hub!