Communication is the most vital part of every team. It brings smooth collaboration, enhances productivity, and creates better results. Businesses need better ways to provide effective communication for their employees, whether for remote workers or office-based.
Businesses should invest in software that readily enhances communication and teamwork. There are plenty of software programs that focus on building better communications. We have heard of Slack, Skype for Business, Zoom, and more.
However, despite the popularity of these software programs, there is one that stood out the most, Microsoft Teams.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams was first launched in November 2016. It was part of the Office 365 package, used as a central hub for conversation, collaboration, video chat, file sharing, and enhancing productivity.
Microsoft has seen a spike in the usage of its product, rising from 20 million users in November 2019 to 44 million in March 2020. The following month, April 2020, it rose to 75 million. It surpassed the number of users of Zoom. Due to the worsening of the pandemic last year, Teams was able to grow.
It shows that Microsoft Teams’ features are functional and versatile. Teams build better connectivity.
It is a cloud-based unified communication solution that’s similar to Slack, Cisco Webex, and more. It enables local and remote workers to work together in real-time using any device. Furthermore, it can integrate with other Microsft applications.
Benefits of Microsoft Teams
Built for Collaboration
Teams is created by Microsoft to promote collaboration within their Office applications or suite. Now, it can work as a standalone productivity software that encourages communication between members or personal use. It also includes a plethora of features that are essential for remote working.
The audio and video conferencing feature has plenty of functionalities similar to other communication software like Zoom and Skype. Furthermore, meetings can be scheduled and include multiple participants in the call.
Real-time chat amongst employees is made easy. Create threaded conversation, find messages easily, communicate as a team or individually, or categorize/name conversations.
The audio call or voice call serves as an alternative way to traditional calls. Users can include up to 250 employees and work on both desktop and mobile devices. Teams also allow call transfers and call queues.
When conducting video conferences, members can screen-share to collaborate on a document. Give control to anyone in the team to take charge of the meeting.
Another feature of Teams that encourages collaboration is file-sharing functionality. There is no need to send emails which could result in delay and confusion. Also, the integration of Microsoft 365 enhances collaboration and productivity. It eliminates the need to switch apps. Instead, integrated Teams on Office 365 can help employees work while communicating on a single platform.
Collaborating through email is harder. You become engrossed in multiple responses, and keeping track of your conversation becomes strenuous than ever. In addition, hitting reply to all instead of one person is another reason why collaborating with email is not recommended.
MS Teams make sure that when you communicate with your workmates, it runs smoothly. You can create channels for each project or subtopic. With each channel, you can send messages to the right team members or people.
It eliminates the chaos and disorganization by having a smooth conversation and keeping track of files needed.
Integration with Microsoft Suites or Applications
The flexibility of Teams to integrate Microsoft Suite and other third-party apps is another reason businesses will benefit from this software. Organizations can integrate business applications of Microsoft such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Onenote, SharePoint, and more.
Third-party applications like Asana can now be added to your team’s suite of tools. In addition, MS Teams has an app store where users can select business apps they use or need. Some of these apps are Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Sign, and Planner.
Bots are used as helpers or reduce time-consuming tasks. It can automate duties like pulling together reports from different platforms, answering questions, providing primary information faster, and more. Popular bots to add to your Teams software are T-bot (standard Teams bot), Polly Bot, and Statsbot.
Need to access your work or reply to a workmate? Teams has an on-the-go application that is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. With the Teams app, you can set meetings, call, chat, add, and access files. The user-friendly chat design makes communication faster and easier.
Using Microsoft Teams gives you and your employees the peace of mind you need. It has several security features to add layers of protection. Also, Microsoft doesn’t have access to their customers’ content. All files shared in Teams are only controlled by the customer.
Real-time conversation or chat messaging within the team eliminates the need to communicate via email. The latter can only cause more confusion.
Instant messaging is the best and effortless way to communicate and collaborate, as there are different ways you can chat with others. It includes one-on-one or group chat. You can also send emojis and GIFs.
Files can also be shared and sent via Teams chat. You can tag people to call their attention, organize conversation, record voice as a message, and upload documents.
Furthermore, Teams permits saving of conversation for later use. Meanwhile, the Chat Translator ensures global collaboration.
Video Calls and Conference Meetings
You can get better communication and collaboration with Microsoft Teams video conferences and calls. You can host calls using any device.
Call and collaborate by inviting via email to work together with your workmates in real-time while using MS Office or screen sharing.
Furthermore, conduct virtual meetings, host online events, and allow others to join automatically or let them wait before they can join a call.
Other tools available for conferences are the ability to customize the background to minimize distractions, raise a hand when needed to say something, and turn on the caption to follow along with the meeting.
MS Teams is designed to help members work together in a simple and more efficient environment. Teams Connect is a feature that allows users to share channels with everyone. Here, members can chat, call, collaborate, and work on a single document. Teams Connect highly prioritize external collaboration.
Keep all your Office Suite in one place and communicate with your workmates using Teams. You can work on a single document or project without leaving the app to send a message. Every change made happens in real-time.
Messages can be translated when communicating with other members. Teams offers up to 35 languages. In addition, channels can be private or public and can add the needed members.
Also, Teams has an online store where companies can get apps they often use and integrate into Teams.
Since a lot of communication and file sharing happens in MS Teams, it is befitting for Microsoft to make their software as secure as possible. Aside from two-factor authentication and single sign-on security features, here are some that Microsft includes;
- Safe Links: It’s a security feature that protects users from malicious links by validating them on chats, channels, and tabs. If the link is infected or contains malicious content, links are disabled.
- Meeting Controls: It gives the host the option to disable the video of an attendee or create an invite-only meeting.
- Advanced Threat Protection (ATP): A cloud-based service that allows organizations to determine if a file or content is malicious.
- Private Channels: It gives users the ability to discuss important matters with required members only. Not everyone can have access to the channel or chatbox.
- End-to-end Encryption (E2EE): An upcoming security option that secures online conversation. Coming first half of this year.
Latest Updates (2021)
It works in real-time. It’s a feature that can help people with disabilities or difficulty with language proficiency. Furthermore, live transcription with speaker attribution can assist attendees who are late or those who missed the meeting. Simply turn on the Allow transcription policy for it to work.
Bypass Lobby Option
The latest update includes two new options: “People in my organization, trusted organizations, and guests” and “People in my organization.” It allows certain groups of people to bypass the meeting lobby when joining a call or meeting.
Team Meetings Control using Mac Touch Bar
The Macbook’s Touch Bar can control meetings in Teams. Users don’t have to click on the window for the options they need. Using the Touch Bar, participants can click on the view participants panel, read chat meetings, use the raise a hand button, mute/unmute, and leave the meeting.
On-demand Chat Translation
This feature applies to Android users. It helps people of different languages collaborate as they communicate with one another by translating chats.
Increase File Support
MS Teams has increased the upload size limit from 100 GB to 250 GB. Hence, it allows users to share large files like videos, research projects, 3D models, and more.
Share Files Stored in Teams
Sharing files in Microsoft Teams comes easy. You can create a sharable link and set the permission to access the file.
Increased Team Members
Individual teams can now have a team member limit of up to 25,000. It is built for organizations with large team sizes and those who want to enable an easy and better way to communicate and collaborate with each member.
Change Status to “Out of Office”
If you are unavailable or on vacation, you can change your status and message status to “Out of Office.” It will display on chat when someone tries to reach you. Even your Outlook calendar is updated.
A new category was added to the device portfolio of the Teams Admin Center. Admins can customize and automate the Teams panel devices.
For the complete list of current updates Microsoft Teams has received last February and March, you can read it here.
Does Microsoft Teams Come with Office 365?
When Microsoft Teams was first released, it only catered to the Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) business or enterprise plans. Now, even those who own licenses for personal and family versions can start using Teams.
Your IT admins will confirm if your organization has Microsoft Teams. If not, they will have to set it up or turn it on for Teams to be readily available for your business or enterprise Microsoft 365 suite.
Microsoft Teams Cost
The costs of Microsoft Teams differs from the Office 365 plans you use. For Basic Business Office 365, you can get MS Teams for $2.50 user/month with an annual commitment. Meanwhile, the Microsoft 365 Business Standard costs $10/user/month with an annual commitment.
For the Office 365 E3 plan, it costs $20/user/month with an annual commitment.
Can I Get Microsoft Teams for Free?
Yes. Even if you don’t have a Microsoft 365 account, you can get the free or basic version. Here’s how you can start your free Teams.
- Use your Microsoft account, or you can use your Skype, OneDrive, Outlook.com, or Xbox Live logins. If you have no account, create a free Microsoft account.
- After creating an account, sign up for a free Microsoft Teams.
- Choose which version you want: Teams Free or For Work (work and organizations), For Education (school), and Teams for Personal Life or Home (friends and family).
- After choosing what plan/version you want, click next.
- Then choose what app you want to download (Windows or Web).
If you are looking for a professional, flexible, and friendly communication tool that can meet your business needs, Microsoft Teams is the right software for you. There are plenty of Microsoft Teams reviews online to prove how excellent this software is. Also, you can use Microsoft Teams for free with no Microsoft 365. It is a versatile software that works for large organizations, small businesses, and family or personal use.