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Best Microsoft Teams features – 18 hidden gems to use

How We Chat Insights March 27, 2019
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Best Microsoft Teams features – 18 hidden gems to use

Microsoft Teams features

If only there were some under the radar Microsoft Teams features that you could get your hands on.

New to Microsoft Teams? Experienced Teams user and want to get more from your productivity stack?

Good news.

In this post, we look at some of the best hidden features on Microsoft Teams, so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your app.

Microsoft Teams features for team productivity

Let’s start with the Microsoft Teams features that drive results for your entire team.

Teams is designed to boost productivity by improving the flow of information in your business. Even just making sure that different groups throughout your business can communicate is enough to improve productivity. 86% of employees cite lack of collaboration for workplace failures.

Are you using these hidden features on Microsoft Teams?

1 – Tabs

Tabs in Microsoft Teams allow businesses to display rich and interactive web content to their teams. There are two kinds of tabs on Teams:

  • Static tabs: These support individual users. For instance, you might have a tab that allows employees to make personal notes as they work.
  • Configurable tabs: These are part of your Teams channel. They offer ongoing information and guidance to teams.
Microsoft Teams tabs
Adding a tab in Microsoft Teams

2 – Microsoft Immersive Reader

This is one of those Microsoft Teams features that is often overlooked as a capability reserved for educational institutions.

The immersive reader speaks the text on a channel aloud at varying speeds. If you’re struggling to focus on a piece of text, or you need to grab information while your eyes are focused elsewhere, the Immersive Reader is useful functionality.

Click on the 3 dots on any message and select the reader from your drop-down menu.

This 90-second video from Microsoft shows you how to use Immersive Reader.

3 – Activity filtering with @ mentions:

It’s challenging staying productive when your eye is always on the real-time chat feed in Microsoft Teams. Fortunately, you can filter the content you see with @Mentions.

This allows you to separate your personal messages and to-do lists from other less relevant conversations.

The activity filter ensures that you stay up to date with the right information without facing the threat of information overwhelm.

Microsoft Teams features
@ mentions in Microsoft Teams

4 – Bookmark specific content:

Want to make sure that you can find the information you need in a hurry when you’re working on a project?

Microsoft Teams comes with the option to bookmark specific pieces of content, whether it’s a message or an attachment. You can classify the content is important to you and spend less time searching for crucial data.

In many businesses, there’s a constant stream of information moving through a chat app at any time. Bookmarking your content helps you to cut through the noise and find the data you need. See the below screenshot where the final message has a pink highlight on the right hand side.

Microsoft Teams features
Microsoft Teams bookmark

Teams Search and Filter is useful for finding content too.

Microsoft Teams Search and Filter

Microsoft Teams Search and Filter

Microsoft Teams features for knowledge sharing

Ever noticed how difficult it is to keep track of information in your business when you’re relying on email to share files, documents, and content?

With countless emails that end up lost in spam folders or the wrong inbox, it’s easy to lose essential messages. The result is that countless employees spend up to 2.5 hours struggling with email each day.

Here are some Microsoft Teams features that make it easier to manage your knowledgebase.

5 – Microsoft Teams connectors

Connectors keep groups ahead of the curve by delivering updates from the services that you typically use.

Rather than asking your teams to find information from Twitter, Trello, Wunderlist, and so on, you can connect those streams straight to their channels.

Any member of a Microsoft Teams channel can connect their entire group to some of the most popular cloud services. When Connectors are set up, all members of a chain will be notified when new messages appear.

Microsoft Teams connectors

Microsoft Teams connectors

6 – Combine your company Wikis

If you already use Wikis within Teams, this feature is excellent for supporting better collaboration.

Click on the “…” left-hand menu and select the Wiki option. You’ll be taken to the Wiki home page on your Personal tab, where you can take notes and check information. You can also click the All tab for a summary of every Wiki you’re involved with.

You can also add notes to your Personal Wiki wherever you are. Just type /Wiki into the Teams text box and type up your note.

Microsoft Teams wiki
Microsoft Teams wiki

7 – Sync your SharePoint sites

One of the best things about Microsoft Teams is how easy it is to connect with tools you already use. For instance, if you have SharePoint team sites that you want to bring into Microsoft Teams, you can. Users can:

  • Add SharePoint pages and lists into Teams channels
  • Use the SharePoint news connector to stream news directly into channels
  • Add full SharePoint sites in Teams via the website tab
  • Include SharePoint document libraries as tabs in Teams
Microsoft-Teams SharePoint
Microsoft-Teams SharePoint

Microsoft has also announced that users will soon be able to create Teams for SharePoint sites by clicking on the “Create a Team” button in the left-hand corner of the site page.

Microsoft Teams features for collaboration

80% of businesses today rely on social collaboration tools to enhance their business processes.

Whether you’re trying to keep your remote workers involved with what’s happening in your office, or you need to sync different departments, Teams can help.

The most obvious features for collaboration offered by Microsoft Teams include things like real-time messaging, video conferencing and audio calls. However, we’ve highlighted some Microsoft Teams features that are less obvious.

8 – Inline message translation

Not everyone feels comfortable working in English.

Inline message translation allows people to chat in their native tongue and translate messages into English for your other users.

It’s an easy way to keep everyone on the same page – no matter their native tongue.

Microsoft Teams in line translation
Microsoft Teams in line translation

9 – Cloud recording with automatic transcripts

We frequently overlook important meeting details in today’s fast-paced business world.

Fortunately, automatic transcription and cloud recording can help. The feature allows you to record your meetings automatically and store it in the cloud.

Not only can you go back and listen to the conversations you had with your team, but the transcriptions are automated too. This makes it easier to find specific information with just a keyword or phrase.

Cloud recording and automatic translation
Microsoft Teams cloud recording and automatic translation

10 – Guest access

You don’t have to be a member of Microsoft Teams and Office 365 to connect via Teams.

Microsoft provides secure guest access so that people in a business can connect with individuals outside of their organization.

Anyone with a consumer or business email account can join a chat. There’s also the option to view files and participate in meetings.

Guest access in Microsoft Teams is turned off by default, but it’s easy to access. Microsoft provides a complete how-to guide to help you navigate the process. Once you’ve configured your guest access, team owners can adjust rules and permissions.

Guest access
Guest access

Users of Skype for Business will be familiar with the federation capability. This is not identical but is the next best thing. For details on the differences and the nuances users are experiencing, check out this post on switching between Microsoft Teams accounts for guest access.

Switching between Microsoft Teams accounts for guest access
Switching between Microsoft Teams accounts for guest access

Microsoft Teams features for developers & IT teams

Today’s teams are rarely looking for a one-size-fits-all solution to their problems.

The rise of APIs and CPaaS solutions shows how eager we are to access more customizable tools and apps.

Some of the best Microsoft Teams features are ideal for letting developers in your business shine.

11 – Microsoft App Studio

Many organizations will download Microsoft Teams, install their favorite plugins, and carry on with work as normal.

However, if you have specific requirements for your team, you might want to use the Microsoft App Studio.

Launched in January 2018, App Studio allows businesses and developers to design their own tools with Teams language. This makes it easy to augment your workflows with new capabilities and processes.

Microsoft App Studio
Microsoft Teams App Studio

12 – Microsoft Teams Bots

If you want to take advantage of artificial intelligence and easy automation features, try the pre-made Microsoft Teams bots. Some of the best bots you might not know about yet include:

  • Polly: a simple bot that polls your team members and helps to keep track of employee engagement
  • Whobot: a bot that can answer questions about your colleagues like who knows about the current incentives for your sales team if you need help serving a customer
  • Grow Bot: a feature that encourages collaboration by allowing team members to exchange kudos
  • Stats bot: an analytics bot that delivers scheduled reports via sources like Google Analytics
Polly
Microsoft Teams Polly

13 – PSTN integration

You can now integrate your Microsoft Teams experience with PSTN calling.

There are multiple ways to do this, including direct routing and Microsoft Calling Plans.

The Calling Plans available from Microsoft allow you to integrate with PSTN through a cloud-based subscription. The benefit of this is that you don’t need any additional hardware.

On the other hand, if you want to stick with your existing PTSN trunk, you can try Direct Routing.

This method allows businesses to connect their PSTN to the Microsoft Teams Cloud PBX. You can use Direct Routing with any telephony provider. However, you will need a Session Border Controller.

Microsoft Teams calling
Microsoft Teams calling

Features for Business Leaders

If you’re a company leader looking to take your organization to the next level, you’ll need to know the best hidden features for Microsoft Teams.

This means embracing tools that help with everything from analytics to company compliance.

14 – Analytics and BI in Microsoft Teams

It’s important to know how your employees are using their Microsoft Teams app.

Usage reports gathered by Microsoft Teams give you an insight into adoption rates and user feedback. This is particularly useful if you’re implementing a new Microsoft Teams strategy and you want to plan a step-by-step rollout.

Teams reports are available in the Microsoft admin center. They offer overviews of how your teams use Teams, including information about the features they access most.

To view your reports, you’ll need to be a service admin in Teams. You can also be a Skype for Business admin or Office 365 global admin. Go to the Teams admin center, click on Analytics and Reports, and choose the report you need.

Analytics and Reports
Microsoft Teams Analytics and Reports

15 – Meeting recording for compliance

Recording Microsoft Teams meetings is a great way to make sure that you’re capturing crucial information for compliance purposes.

Recordings capture video, audio and screen sharing activities at the same time. The meetings you record can also be saved to Stream, which means you can manage and download the content later.

Microsoft Stream
Microsoft Stream

Recording meetings is helpful if you want to create department or company-wide announcements.

With your recordings, you can reveal information about news items, or create training videos for employees. Click on the “…” in your channel and choose Start Recording.

16 – Manage First-line Workers

As a relatively new addition to Microsoft Teams, this may still be a hidden feature to some companies. Now, you can address shift issues and arrange your work schedule within Teams channels.

Managers can easily plan where they need more support from specific staff members. There’s also the option for employees to make shift change requests.

The Shifts feature is switched on by default for most companies. Just click on the “…” option and select Shifts to get started. To access Shifts on mobile, you’ll need to expand your modular tray. You can pin Shifts to your nav bar for easy access.

Managing shift requests in Microsoft Teams
Managing shift requests in Microsoft Teams

17 – Private channels

Control which individuals can collaborate and communicate in Teams by building private channels.

This is a valuable feature in financial companies where parts of your organization may not be permitted to see and share information.

Private channels were previewed at Enterprise Connect as a long time request from Team users. This capability makes it easier to control how data is shared in an age where privacy and compliance are crucial.

You can see the differences between public and private channels in this video by Modality Systems.

Microsoft Teams features for syncing your business

Sometimes you need to look beyond Microsoft Teams to find the features that are the most transformative.

For instance, did you know that you can connect your Microsoft Teams conversations with channels on Slack and Cisco Webex Teams?

In enterprises, there is often a group of Slack users – sanctioned or otherwise. These users will not conform to Microsoft Teams just because someone has decided this is the way you need to work.

In the same vein, forcing them to use Microsoft Teams instead of Slack isn’t going to work either.

And using both Microsoft Teams and Slack is unproductive and risks losing information.

Connect Slack and Microsoft Teams
Connect Slack and Microsoft Teams

The same is applicable to Cisco Webex Teams. Most enterprises have Cisco endpoints for VoIP usage or conferencing. Cisco hardware is built to integrate with Cisco Webex Teams. So, why would you force the Webex-heavy users to switch to Microsoft Teams.

Deploying Microsoft Teams but also have Cisco Webex Teams users
Deploying Microsoft Teams but also have Cisco Webex Teams users

You don’t need to.

Mio is a solution that eliminates the silos between teams in your workforce. As users send messages on their Microsoft Teams channels, Mio receives them as API events.

Mio then automatically translates Teams messages into content for Slack and Cisco Webex Teams too.

Mio:

  • Routes direct messages to and from each messaging application
  • Links public spaces and channels across platforms
  • Supports file uploads and file sharing across platforms
  • Continues threaded messages across platforms
  • Allows you to edit and delete messages across platforms
  • Supports rich text formatting across platforms

Sound too good to be true? See for yourself.

Are you ready to explore the best Microsoft Teams feature that keeps your teams in sync?

Mio is one of the best Microsoft Teams features
Mio is one of the best Microsoft Teams features
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  1. […] For an in-depth rundown of the best Microsoft Teams features you could be utilizing, we’ve also put together a Microsoft Teams feature guide. […]

  2. […] Schulz, suggested Slack could achieve feature parity with main rivals Cisco Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams post direct […]