Tag: microsoft teams

Did you know … you can send audio messages in the Teams mobile client?

There are times when typing on your mobile device isn’t a problem, but there are a lot of scenarios where it is easier to talk than type (especially for those of us up North cold enough Fahrenheit or Celsius doesn’t matter!). You can now record an audio message in both individual and channel conversations.

In the message composition dialogue, look in the lower right-hand corner and find a microphone icon. To record a message, hold the microphone icon and speak. You’ll see a banner indicating that your message is recording. Release the microphone icon to stop recording.

Click the ‘play’ icon to review your audio message and click the little paper aeroplane to send it.

The audio message is can be played from any Teams client – mobile, web, or desktop.


Did you know … you can schedule a meeting in a Teams channel?

I’ve previously provided information on scheduling a private meeting in Teams and a shortcut to schedule a meeting from within a chat. Private meetings are great for discussing topics that need to be private, but a team can be more engaged with a project when planning and implementation discussions are visible and inspectable.

Instead of inviting participants to a private meeting, schedule the meeting in a channel and members can attend your meeting and see what happened during the meeting. Channel meetings will appear as a thread in the channel discussion, and any chat messages sent during the meeting can be read by Team members.

If the shared notebook was used to take meeting notes, or a recording of the meeting was made, links to those items will be displayed in the meeting thread. Avatars for each attendee appear in the bottom right-hand corner of the meeting thread. Because the meeting information is readily available in the channel discussion, these meeting are a great way of keeping everyone “in the loop” and engaged.

To schedule a channel meeting, click the drop-down for “Select a channel to meet in”, expand a Team name, and select the appropriate channel.

Meetings appear in the channel, and participants can click to join the meeting directly from the channel post.

As the meeting organizer, I see the meeting in my Teams meetings section and my Outlook calendar.

However, other channel members to not see channel meetings in their Teams meetings section or Outlook calendar.

*Not* displaying the meeting to all channel members is an intentional decision – Microsoft originally displayed all channel meetings in everyone’s calendar. It caused a lot of confusion because people weren’t sure if they needed to attend the meeting or not. Not displaying the meeting can cause problems too – I glance at my calendar to plan my day and don’t know about your meeting until the reminder pops up ten minutes before the meeting starts. If you need specific Team members to attend your meeting, enter their names in the “Invite People” section.

Individuals listed as attendees will see the meeting in their calendar. Other team members can join if they have interest and availability, but the required participants can see the meeting and plan on attending.

When a channel discussion becomes involved and it would be easier to talk, you can start an ad hoc meeting in a channel. Click the “Meet now” icon under the new conversation box. Attendees can join the meeting from the channel thread, and meeting information is posted to the thread just like with a scheduled channel meeting.


Do you know … what that Team is?

While you can join public teams, or you may have been provided an access code to join a private team, most of the time someone adds you to their Teams space. If you’re lucky, the name they gave the Team is an answer unto itself. If you’re not lucky, they named it “Engineering” and you work with eight different engineering groups. A description is included when creating a Team, but how do you read that description? At the bottom of your Teams listing, click on the little gear.

You will see a summary of your Team memberships – along with the description.

If you’re still not sure, ask the Team owner. Click the not-quite-a-hamburger menu across from the Team and select “Manage Team”.

You’ll see the Team owners. Hover your mouse over a name, and you can quickly send the person a chat message.

Tip for Team Owners: In addition to providing a brief team description, you can add a Wiki tab to your Teams space with more information on how the Team and its channels should be used — if you’ve got a “Watercooler Discussion” channel for off-topic commentary, or if a channel receives posts from an RSS feed or another connector, you can convey that information to Team members in a Wiki tab.


Did you know … you can use Teams as a support channel?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure this was true until we tried it. But my group is promoting Teams usage within the company, so it made sense to try using Teams as a tool for users to engage support. I don’t mean technically work – anything where someone can report an issue & someone else can read/respond to the issue can be used as a support channel! Smoke signals and carrier pigeons would technically work. I mean ‘you can use Teams as a support channel without subjecting yourself to rampant chaos, long wait times, and irritated participants.’

What did we do? Some employees transitioned to a new company under the Earthlink CSMB divestiture. While the individuals would be terminated in PeopleSoft (i.e. we’re not going to keep paying them), they needed to retain access to many Windstream systems during a transition period. Since terminating an employee in PeopleSoft automatically terminates their Active Directory and LDAP accounts (a great thing from a security perspective), these individuals needed to be changed to temporary IDs (n99 accounts). Coordinating account changes for fifty people is an undertaking, and the actual conversions were spread across a full day. After their account is converted, each individual needs to perform a series of steps to get their computer and applications functioning with their new ID. And problems occur.

I built a Teams space for the transitioning employees and support staff who would be assisting with the account conversions. End-user documentation and the schedule of whose account is being converted when was stored in the Teams space. On the account conversion day, we had a HD Meeting bridge open and used a Teams channel for issue reporting.

What happened? Well, first I’ll tell you what didn’t happen. The Teams channel didn’t become a confusing mess of issue reports that became onerous to manage. Now I’m not saying I want to replace ITSM with a bunch of public Teams spaces you can join when you’ve got an issue … but in a limited and controlled environment, Teams was a great supplement that allowed us to better support the transitioning individuals.

People who had never used Teams before didn’t find it difficult (although they also had the bridge-line as a backup) – they used the https://teams.microsoft.com URL, signed in, and were quickly able to chat with the support team.

When issues were reported, support staff could quickly reply to indicate they were looking at the issue. And unlike a bridge call, three people can easily type at the same time. As a support person, I clicked the little bookmark to ‘save’ an issue on which I was working.

Typing /saved into the command bar at the top of my Teams client

Provided quick access to threads on which I was working. When multiple issues are reported to a bridge line, I find myself with a Notepad document with who and what.

When the problem was a misunderstanding of or a gap in the documentation, I was able to update the end user documentation directly in Teams. These updates were immediately available to users.

Individual chat and screen sharing within Teams – without having to ask someone how to spell their name three times – was an enormous help in walking users through reconfiguration tasks. Where I’ve used Skype for this before, telling someone who I am so they could chat or share their screen with me was time consuming. And I had to tell a LOT of people.

In Teams, you can use the “meet now” button at the bottom of the channel discussion to start an ad hoc meeting that anyone can join.

Or hover your mouse over the individual’s avatar on their post and click the “Chat” icon to start an individual chat.

From within the individual chat, the individual needing assistance could use the sharing control to share their screen.

And they could even give keyboard/mouse control to support staff.

But the best thing about using Teams as a support channel? Participants read channel posts, followed previously-provided instructions, and sorted their own problem.

And in the days following the account conversion? I left the Teams space open for anyone who encountered a problem. Leaving the Team open means support staff can keep an eye on the channel without dedicating a lot of time to waiting to see if problems arise.

The one thing that would have made the experience even better – pinning posts to the top of the channel. It would have been great to pin the three process updates where everyone could find them instead of relying on participants to read through the entire channel history.


Did you know … the Android Teams app has a dark theme?

Microsoft published an updated Teams app in the Play Store on 14 February 2019. While the update includes ubiquitous “bug fixes and performance updates”, there is a noticeable functional change too: a dark theme has been added. Tap the hamburger menu to access the “Settings” menu. Select “General” and slide the “Dark Theme” slider to the right.

The app will restart and use the new theme.


Did you know … you can mark a Teams post unread?

One of the first settings I tweak when I get a new computer – before setting up my printers, grabbing FireFox from the Software Center, or setting up Putty sessions to our hosts is to STOP Microsoft Outlook from marking a message read every time I click on it. Yes, you can add a delay – mark it read if the message has been displayed for 10 seconds. But if I’ve really read a message, I either reply to it (which marks it as read) or delete it. On the few occasions where I want to stash the message without replying, I can mark it read myself!

Teams is different than Outlook … I cannot just delete someone’s post because I’ve read it.

The channel is bolded again to indicate there are unread posts.

And the ‘last read’ marker is moved prior to the message.

Currently (13 February 2019), marking a post unread in a channel discussion does not make it show up when you filter your activity feed for unread messages. If you mark the message as unread within the Activity Feed, though, the item will appear in the “Unread Messages” filtered view.


Did you know … your Team can have 5,000 members?

Microsoft updated the Microsoft Teams Limits and Specifications documentation, an Teams can now have 5,000 members. That’s a LOT of people! Are there special considerations when managing a large Teams space? Yes!

Even in a smaller team, it is a good idea to document the purpose of the Teams space and how it should be used. Is there a channel into which members are encouraged to post interesting information they happen across even if said information is not directly work related? Can members create new channels; and, if not, how are new channels requested? When managing a large Team, it is vital that everyone understand the purpose for each channel and what types of discussion are appropriate.

Because you cannot currently pin a post to the top of a channel, I have used the General channel’s Wiki tab to convey this information. You can rename the Wiki tab – a good idea if it will be more than a blank page! Click the drop-down by “Wiki” and select “Rename”.

Type a new name and click “Save”.

Update the Wiki page with information about your Team.

The first real problem in creating a large team is picking 1,739 names and adding them to your team. Instead of manually adding individual members, you can generate a code that can be used to join your team. This code can be e-mailed to those who should join – or to managers for distribution to their staff. Click the not-quite-a-hamburger menu next to your Team name and select “Manage Team”

Click on the “Settings” tab, expand the “Team code” section, and copy the code.

Click on the “Members” tab – that “Search for members” dialogue is very useful if you want to remove a specific member from a very large team.

There are other settings that can reduce chaos in large Teams spaces. Click the “Settings” tab. Expand the “Member permissions” section. If thousands of people can create channels, you can quickly reach the 200-channel limit in a Teams space. By restricting channel creation and deletion to Team owners, you can exert more control over the Teams space design. You can even prevent non-owners from posting to the General channel. I do not allow members to modify tabs or connectors – again, controlling what the space looks like and avoiding accidental deletions.

It is beneficial to allow Owners to delete all messages – if a post is inappropriate or contains information that should not be shared with the large group, it can be quickly removed.

Scroll down and expand the “@mentions” section – since at-mentions generate notifications to a huge number of people, you may not want to allow members to at-mention the team or channel.

You may want to restrict “fun stuff” as well – a few gifs or memes can be funny, eight hundred … not so much 😊


Did you know … you can schedule a meeting from a Teams chat?

Clicking around in a UI (or even using shortcut keys to navigate elsewhere) can make you lose focus – but it would be overwhelming to see your calendar, all channel activity, shared files, calendar, and Planner overview in the same view. Fortunately, there are shortcuts in Teams that allow you to perform quick actions without leaving your current screen.

There are discussions that are well suited to IM-like interfaces – I frequently bring up a side-channel chat for conference calls to run ideas by my group before announcing it to others or to get clarification about a topic without interrupting the flow of discussion. When participants span time zones, asynchronous communication allows everyone to participate in the discussion. But there are times when it’s just easier to talk. If everyone is available, you can launch an audio or video meeting right from the upper right-hand corner of the chat.

That doesn’t work if everyone’s not available to talk. While you can schedule a meeting in the Meetings panel, that means leaving your current conversation. Fortunately, you can also schedule a meeting from the chat pane. Under the new message box, click the little calendar icon.

And schedule a meeting – attendees are pre-populated with chat participants, but you can add and remove participants as needed.


Did you know … you can add a subject to your Channel conversations?

It can be time consuming to scan through channel conversation and find posts that are really relevant to you – unlike e-mails that have conveniently scan-able subjects, Teams can seem like a deluge of threads, and you’ve got to read through each one to see if it’s something important to you or not.

To some extent, breaking topics out into different channels and Teams helps, but few are deeply involved in every single aspect of a discussion. And personnel matters discussed in a group’s Teams space often only impact some people – announcements about the Education Assistance policy, the deadline for the smoking cessation program, or weather information for a specific office may be really important to you or they may be something you could have ignored if you hadn’t needed to read the first sentence or two before disqualifying yourself.

But Teams threads do have subjects – it’s just really easy to start a thread without one (unlike e-mail where it’s glaringly obvious that your subject is missing). To add a subject to your thread, either hit Ctrl-Shift-x or click the ‘Format’ button to expand the rich text editor.

Now there’s a thread subject – type a quick summary just like you would have in an e-mail message and type your thread content in the ‘Start a new conversation …’ section.

When you post your message, your subject will appear in larger, bolded text. This allows channel members to quickly scan through threads and decide if they need to read them or not.

Subjects are even highlighted in search results – making it easier to find your thread in searches (and scanning through a channel when not using search).


Did you know … you can @mention your Team without typing the whole Team name?

If you want to bring the entire team’s attention to a post without taking half a second to think about which Team you are actually using, you can use @team instead. @team will resolve to whatever Team into which the message is posted. These shortcuts are only available in Teams channel conversations – typing @team in a private chat won’t do anything.

There’s a shortcut for the current channel too — @channel

The message text is the same using @team and @channel or typing the actual team and channel name.