Microsoft Teams offers significant added value through interactive and structured work, even if the switch to Teams requires a certain amount of rethinking and acclimatization. Give yourself and your teams time to get used to working with the new tool and support each other.
Organization and focus: The different teams and channels allow for a clear separation of topics. This is a great advantage because this bundling of information channels makes it easier to search for specific information, and you are not distracted by other topics and can stay focused on the matter at hand.
Integration of other applications: Teams can directly integrate a variety of applications such as Planner, Word, Excel, Power BI, and many others. This means that the relevant files and programs are always available for each channel.
Control of information flow: Individual notification settings allow each employee to adapt the notifications to his or her working method so that they are not interrupted in their work more than necessary. By using headlines and teasers, everyone can also quickly decide for themselves which articles are relevant to them.
Reduce the flood of email: By posting messages directly to the appropriate channel, employees receive only information that is relevant to them. There’s no need to send email to huge distribution groups if it’s only relevant to some of the recipients.
- Define rights for team creation: New teams should be created centrally, for example, via IT. If every employee has the possibility to create new teams, this can quickly lead to uncontrolled growth and become confusing.
- Create a company team if necessary: It is recommended that you create a company team to which all employees belong. This can be used for important information or news. We have called this team knkKompass and have created channels for the individual departments, through which each department can keep employees informed about its activities. In addition, a process should be defined to determine who is responsible for adding new employees to the team.
- Use SharePoint integration: Using SharePoint synchronization, your employees can also access and edit files stored in Teams via Explorer. They use their familiar view and have direct access to all files.
- Work together on documents: Whether in Excel, Word, or on a digital whiteboard, we use Teams not only for regular meetings, but also to work together on documents to develop ideas. The free Microsoft whiteboard app can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store. The version integrated in Teams has a reduced range of functions compared to the app.
- Create departmental teams: In addition, each department or workgroup should have its own team, consisting of a general channel and others for individual projects, campaigns or events.
- Hide channels no longer required: Via ‘more options’ you can hide and show channels to keep the team list clear.
- Define favorites: Channels that are used frequently can be saved as favorites.
- Configure notification settings: One of the first steps in using Teams should be to customize the notification settings. Use the profile picture to go to the settings and then to notifications. Depending on your preferences you can setup each channel to show whether you want to see something only in your feed, with banners, or also to receive an e-mail.
Our experience: For most activities, it is recommended that you deactivate e-mail notifications. If you find banners and notifications annoying and distracting, you should set ‘Only in feed’ or ‘Off’ and then check for new activities yourself at regular intervals. New activities are easy to find via markers.
- Use the Teams App on mobile devices: In addition to the desktop application, there is also an app. It’s really great for communicating on the go, or for reading the latest updates from the team. Definitely try it out!
- Set up a test team: Create a test team where your employees can try out the new tool and its functions without fear of deleting important data.
- Support each other: Make colleagues aware of new functions, share experiences, and pass on your own learning to your team.
- Have fun: In the tool itself you can use emojis, stickers, and send pictures so you can have fun with your colleagues from home. One of our favorites: The Dancing Penguin. 😉
Other Important Notes
- Use Team Chat: Use Team Chat to share information within your team and restrict document sharing in conversations with multiple people. There is a risk of not being able to retrieve information if it is partially stored in chats and in Teams.
- Use markers effectively: Using markers, you can inform entire teams or individual employees about updates. Choose markers carefully: Is something really important to the whole team or just a channel or individuals? There is also the function: “Mark as important.” Use it sparingly, just like in Outlook (only if something is immediately relevant for the operational process).
- Save posts: If you want to access certain information on a regular basis (e.g. IT instructions), you can save this post and thus minimize the search effort.
- Work with the search function: The universal search function in the menu bar can be used to search for messages, members, and files. The search results can be filtered to these categories and you can preview them.
Search tip: Add sender names or predefined tags to the search to reduce the number of results.
General Best Practices for Using Microsoft Teams
- Reply to existing conversations instead of creating a new post each time.
- Create a tab for files in each channel and store files there in an organized way (for example, by year and project).
- File your document in the channel beforehand, then add it to contributions via ‘Search teams and channels’, so that they are stored in the correct place.
- Integrate planners and record to-dos and responsibilities there.
- To record processes, it is recommended that you create a Wiki. This is especially helpful for new employees.
- Especially for regular meetings, it helps to appoint a person to open documents to be discussed, share their screen and make changes directly. If there are several speakers or agenda items, it is advisable to appoint someone to keep track of the agenda.
To facilitate the implementation we have compiled our best practices in a convenient checklist for you.
Sebastian Mayeres joined knk in 2003. He is CEO of knk Software LP and Head of Global Sales. He is especially knowledgeable about Editorial Office, Media Production, CRM, Paid Content, Digital and Physical Subscription Management and – for B2B – Advertising.