Tips to make the most of Microsoft Teams

To maintain the efficiency of their remote and hybrid work staff, Salt Lake City businesses leverage all sorts of apps so that teams can work together and keep in touch with one another. A typical setup would have Google productivity apps like Google Docs for collaboration and Slack or Zoom for communication. But if your organization is using Microsoft 365, then there’s no need to use multiple platforms. In fact, when it comes to enhancing collaboration and communication, you just need one app: Microsoft Teams.

In case you don’t know, Microsoft Teams is a chat-based messaging platform where you and your staff members can chat, hold voice/video calls and conferences, and share and work on files. This seemingly simple and easy-to-use app is also packed with useful features. Here are a few tips and tricks you can try to maximize your use of Microsoft Teams.

Tips for admins and users with access to special features

Some features of Teams are only available to admins and to users granted usage permissions by admins. For example, regular staff can’t create their own teams (i.e., user groups that can have their exclusive chat channels, file sharing, and calendar events) unless permitted by company admins. Here are a few tips which are relevant to personnel with special privileges:

Create an FAQ

Set up a Microsoft Teams FAQ for your team to help guide them on how best to use the app. This could include things like:

  • What is Microsoft Teams?
  • Who can create a team?
  • How do I share a file with my team?
  • How do I invite someone to join my team?
  • What apps are available for Microsoft Teams? 

For help on making your FAQ (and on all of the tips we’re sharing with you here), turn to our Microsoft Teams experts at NetWize.

Always check for team duplication

Teams can be created based on organizational affiliation (e.g., a department) or on shared activities (e.g., a project). If managers are not careful, they may end up creating too many teams. When this happens, there will be too many active lines of communication to keep track of — and team members may eventually feel overwhelmed and start dropping the ball on important tasks. 

To avoid this, before creating a team, managers must always check if there’s already an existing team that can serve their purpose. They should also audit Teams every quarter or so to see if they can dissolve teams that are no longer in use. Just like with physical spaces, virtual spaces are much easier to use when they’re orderly and clutter-free.

Minimize the number of channels you create for a team

When a team project has many components, it’s a good idea to create separate communications channels for each component so that discussions and file sharing are limited to relevant members only. However, it’s best to begin with just a few channels and add more as needed. This is because each channel will have its own file archive, so the more channels you have, the more difficult it’ll be to find the documents you need.

Tips for everyone

Here are tips for all types of Microsoft Teams users:

Learn keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts allow Microsoft productivity app users to work faster than if they were to rely on using a mouse. This is because shortcuts become a natural extension to touch typing, and no time is spent moving one’s hand from the keyboard to the mouse. And just like Word and Excel, Teams also has its own set of keyboard shortcuts. Here are a few essential ones you ought to try:

  • Execute the search function: Ctrl + E
  • Open files: Ctrl + 6
  • Blur your background: Ctrl + Shift + P
  • Mute/Unmute yourself: Ctrl + Shift + M
  • Turn your camera on/off: Ctrl + Shift + O 

For a comprehensive list, go to Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Teams.

Master the search function

The more everyone uses Teams, the more content your organization will collect in the app, which means that search will become your most-used function over time.

Beyond just typing what you want to look for, you can also utilize Keyword Query Language or KQL to do more advanced searches. Here are four KQL-powered search query formats that Teams supports:

  • From:[person’s name] + search keyword – Looks for the keyword among the messages a person sent
  • In:[channel or group chat name] + search keyword – Looks for the keyword within a channel or group chat
  • Subject:[keyword from a channel message that came with a subject line] – Returns all channel messages that have that keyword in their subject line
  • Sent:[Date] + search keyword – Looks for the keyword among the messages sent on the specified date

To learn more about KQL, go to Microsoft’s Keyword Query Language (KQL) syntax reference.

Here are two other tricks you can try to search like a pro:

  • To do an exact match search, enclose your search term in quotation marks.
  • If you can’t remember the exact word you used, type the first letters you can remember, then place an asterisk (*) at the end. For instance, entering “elec*” will give you results that contain words that begin with those letters, such as elections, electricity, and so on.

Save messages

To ensure that you don’t forget important items, save messages for easy access later on. To save a message, click More options (…) > Save this message.

View your saved messages by clicking on your profile picture, then Saved. Alternatively, you can go to the search box and enter /saved.

Translate messages

Teammates and business partners may send chat messages in a language that you or others don’t understand. To illustrate, non-native English speakers may have difficulty following message threads that are predominantly written in English. Thankfully, Teams users can just hover over a particular message, click on the ellipsis (…), then click Translate.

Teams’s translation capabilities also go beyond written text. The app can add captions to video calls and translate those captions live. As of this writing, you can share the videos in up to six languages. In a video call, just open the Translate to menu and choose the language(s) you prefer. Those watching the video can then click Subtitles On in the lower right-hand corner of their screen so that they can read the translated captions.

To fully leverage Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft products you’re using, rely on our experts at NetWize

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