Let’s get you acquainted with Teams
Microsoft Teams is included in the Microsoft 365 package as a chat-based collaboration tool. It allows users to create and lead conference calls with others, seamlessly integrating with the other Microsoft applications like SharePoint to safely record documents shared. Microsoft Teams was first introduced in the first half of 2017. Interestingly, it was first concepted at an internal hackathon at the company headquarters.
From 2019 to 2020, Microsoft saw a jump in the number of organisations using Microsoft Teams from 500k to 1 million. And did you know that as of 2020, 91 Fortune 100 companies use the collaboration platform?
Why do so many organisations choose Microsoft Teams?
For one, it gives teams structure. Its integration capabilities with other Microsoft applications serves it well as a communication and collaboration tool, providing a holistic platform for users to share documents seamlessly. Avoid duplication and store your files in SharePoint, and edit Word docs, PowerPoints and Excel Spreadsheets in your chats. But more on all of this later!
Want to learn more about Microsoft 365? Read our guide: What is Microsoft 365?
Business adoption of Teams has increased by 1250% in 3 years.
During the pandemic, Microsoft Teams saw a huge rise in active users – jumping from 20 million in November 2019 to 75 million in April 2020 (which is now – in 2022 – 270 million). And in terms of competitive advantage in 2022, Microsoft Teams continues to thrive. Microsoft Teams noticed 894% more growth from March to June 2020 than its rival, Zoom. And compared to Slack’s 18 million users, Microsoft Teams is a notable market dominator.
You don’t need an account – but you don’t get far without one
You don’t need Microsoft 365 to gain access to Microsoft Teams. You don’t even need an account or license. What you need is access from a business – whether you’re freelancing or part of a wider organisation – you’re working with. However, there are limitations. While you can join Teams calls, you won’t be able to set them up yourself.
What you will get access to is the meeting chat, screen share and other key features of conference software you’d expect.
Joining is simple: someone in the organisation will send over a request which’ll land in your email inbox. It’s then a case of logging into the system using your Microsoft account. For more information, why not watch this video.
There are several options for using Microsoft Teams as a guest when accessing a meeting – download the Microsoft app, staying in browser or routing you to an existing downloaded app.
To get the best out of the platform – you shouldn’t use it in silo
Part of the reason for Microsoft Teams being top of their game – and taking top spot in global active users – is because of the flexibility it brings your teams. A crucial component of successful companies at the beginning of the pandemic was agility; the ability to quickly pivot to optimise and sustain productivity.
Microsoft Teams has proved countless times that it’s enabled companies around the globe to continue business operations when in lockdown. Crocs, the global footwear brand, worked to donate footwear to hospitals across the US. They stated that Teams ‘brought [their] global business together and had the program live in a matter of days’.
Not only can you use trusted Microsoft apps here, but there’s the Microsoft Apps-source which allows your external apps to integrate. Microsoft Teams is also more than a communication platform – with its integration with the Microsoft 365 suite and over 30 external apps. That means you can collaborate in the app while communicating in real time.
You can become more flexible in meetings by changing layouts, sharing your screen to deliver presentations, or use the Whiteboard feature that works amazingly for team brainstorming. All your scheduled meetings will sync up with your calendar in real time, because of its integration with Outlook. From here you can add shared documents accessible and editable from the invite for all attendees.
So when it comes down to using Microsoft Teams for meetings, how can you join and invite people onto Teams calls?
Joining a call from the app is simple:
- Open up your calendar then click on a meeting invite. Here you’ll see a button called Join that upon clicked, will locate you to the meeting. This is accessible before or during the scheduled time.
- You’ll have the option on this next screen to turn on your camera and test out your audio.
- If you’re a guest then you’ll need access from those in the meeting to let you in. If you’re a part of the organisation, you can click Join now to enter the meeting.
When you’re in, you can share your screen, using the navigation bar at the bottom. Clicking the projector icon will expand the bar to a bottom tray with all your screen share options, including how much you want to show. You can select your entire desktop, a single monitor or a single application.
There are also options to record meetings. If you’re wanting to send the meeting to those who couldn’t attend, or you’re discussing important matters that you want to file away, it’s the perfect tool. To record your meeting, click More actions which will appear as three dots. Select Start recording. Your meeting is now recording. Everyone in the meeting gets notified that they’re being recorded along with the transcript presenting automatically on everyone’s interface.
It’ll then start processing once the meeting has elapsed and is available to every attendee afterwards in the meeting chat section. It saves in SharePoint automatically, so to save it to an individual’s drive, simply download it.
Want to communicate with someone, but it’s not worth a call, and it seems too short to be an email? Instant chat in Microsoft Teams lets you instantly drop someone in your organisation a message. Provided they don’t have the do not disturb status on, they’ll get an immediate notification.
Chats can be 1-to-1 or with multiple people in a group. Microsoft ensures that chats are encrypted in transit and when they’ve been sent.
Microsoft states that channels are “a single place for a team to share messages, tools and files”. They can be organised in any way your team sees fit – by team, by sector, by industry, by function. Teammates get added from channel admin accounts, meaning that there’s no one where they shouldn’t be.
Channels have their own folder in SharePoint, meaning that all folders and documents created within them are instantly added and filed away.
Instant access to SharePoint
SharePoint is a Microsoft application for creating websites, publishing content and storing files. For example, if a global business has loads of sales, technical and marketing material they need to store somewhere security and non-client facing.
Each team is connected to one or more SharePoint sites – anything shared within each Team is saved security on SharePoint for your team to access.
How much does Teams cost?
|Microsoft Teams (free)||Microsoft Teams Essentials||Microsoft 365 Business Basic||Microsoft 365 Business Standard|
|Free (no commitment)||£3.00 per user/month||£4.50 per user/month||£9.40 per user/month|
||Includes everything in the free version, plus:
||Includes everything in Microsoft Teams Essentials, plus:
||Includes everything in Business Basic plus:
There is also an add-on licenses feature for specific Microsoft Teams capabilities. Providing flexibility to add these capabilities for those users in the team that need them, rather that increasing the licenses, and related costs, for the whole team.
The add-on licenses include Microsoft 365 Business Voice, Teams Phone with Calling Plan Bundle, Audio Conferencing and Microsoft Teams Rooms to name a few.
Web vs App vs Mobile App
The versatility of Microsoft Teams is what drives so many organisations to use it for their business operations. There are so many ways to use the application that you can build a seamless routine – using all applications of the software, or each on their own merits the same outcome.
The web application is useful for those who don’t religiously use it – guests to your organisation or freelancers would typically use this feature as it doesn’t require you download it.
However, the web and desktop apps aren’t the same. For example, you can’t blur your background of have 1-to-1 recordings of meetings in the web app. The desktop app is available to install and download onto your device and this is accessible without the use of internet (but you’d struggle to use it without internet). You also can’t create breakout rooms on web apps nor have any other pop-out windows.
With more features, the desktop app is more accessible than the web app. When bringing the mobile app into the mix, it adds a holistic balance. Regarding Windows vs Mac, there are slight differences in the interface, but nothing much is different. The only difference between the two is the ability to share system audio in live events. This will share the audio from your device if sharing your screen, which is only available on Windows. However, this is the only difference between the two.
The mobile app carries all the benefits of the desktop and web app, but it provides convenience. Imagine this: you’ve just finished an important meeting. When you get to the train station, standing on the platform, someone emails about a follow up meeting for later that day. Not being able to get your laptop out, you check it on your phone. Or, if there’s a quick follow up call, you can easily attend from the comfort of your phone.
You’re able to download the mobile app on both iOS and Android.
Teams vs Zoom
Zoom is still very much the default whenever someone suggests a conference call – ‘a zoom’ – which appears to now be outdated. It’s the same with the colloquial term coined during the pandemic of ‘zoom fatigue’ which is still ushered today to describe someone who’s exhausted by the amount of virtual calls they’ve had in any one time period.
The question remains: Microsoft Teams or Zoom? It may seem like a difficult conundrum – but it all depends on your business needs.
They both have plans of similar ranges in price, and they both have the same fundamental features. Screen share, recording, whiteboard, breakout rooms are all shared functions.
Where things differ is in their capacity. Zoom can hold up to 1,000 attendees (which makes it great for webinars) while Teams can only house up to 300 in a regular meeting. In Teams, you can have the option of a live broadcast event with a question panel, which works great for larger teams. There are more integration capabilities with Zoom, and there are more available features that come with the free plan, but Microsoft Teams seems to make up for this with the storage space and the 60-minute limit of free meetings, compared to the 40-minute limit of free Zoom plans.
Zoom has skyrocketed in popularity because of its ease of use. Its interface is basic on the surface, resulting in it being readily adopted by everyone. Microsoft Teams takes a slightly longer path in getting acquainted with it, but that’s only in part due to its compatibility with other Microsoft applications.
Teams vs Slack
These two have had fierce clashes in the past, with Slack filing a complaint in Europe stating that they “illegally tied its Teams product into its market-dominant Office productivity suite”. Teams is definitely popular among enterprise and large organisations, with Slack still being the go-to for start-ups and small businesses. This is probably down to the integration capabilities of Microsoft Teams with Sharepoint and other Microsoft applications.
With Teams overtaking Slack’s active usership in 2019, it seems like the popularity of Microsoft 365 has impacted its rise to fame.
Though people still use the two in tandem. You can enable cross-platform communications to ensure that nothing gets lost in translation, you can easily connect with external team members if they’re using the alternative solution and use APIs & bots to connect the two. That means if someone updates something in Teams, you can get notified in Slack.
There are differences, however. Let’s start with the number of people on video conferences: Teams allow up to 300 in a regular meeting, as oppose to Slacks limit of 15.
Like with Zoom, compared the Microsoft Teams, the plans and pricing is fairly similar. The difference, however, is that Teams can also come as part of the same package as Office 365 solutions, making Microsoft Teams by itself cheaper. You’re essentially getting more productivity for your money!
Let’s talk about security
Microsoft Teams ensures that data is encrypted. Files are backup by SharePoint and benefit from SharePoint encryption. There’s also separate encryption for messages in transit as well as once they’re sent, meaning that it’s extremely difficult for anyone outside of the organisation to find them.
Teams also enforce team-wide and organisational level two-factor authentication and single sign-on through Active Directory. We’d argue that Microsoft Teams is very secure, so you can keep peace of mind. Microsoft Defender is a tool that gives you added security for all your messages, files and transfers, monitoring which content they suspect to be malicious and giving you the option of blocking user access for those who spread this.
The tool also offers Safe Links as a way to combat malicious intent. Microsoft describe this nicely: “Safe Links is a feature in Defender for Office 365 that provides URL scanning and rewriting of inbound email messages in mail flow, and time-of-click verification of URLs and links in email messages and other locations”
Microsoft Teams is an integral part of the Office 365 and Microsoft 365 packages, leading your teams to enhanced productivity and collaboration.
For more detail on this, contact one of the sales specialists at Boldfield.