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Microsoft Teams Best Practices: 14 To Get You Started

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Microsoft Teams Best Practices
Dominic Kent

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Microsoft Teams Best Practices: 14 To Get You Started

Microsoft Teams Best Practices

To use Microsoft Teams effectively, it’s important to adhere to Microsoft Teams best practices. 

Whether you’re starting fresh or a Teams pro, there’s always something new to learn in Microsoft Teams.

In this post, we’ve curated 14 Microsoft Teams best practices to help you use Microsoft Teams effectively.

Microsoft Teams best practices included:

  1. How to create a team in Microsoft Teams
  2. Best practices for Microsoft Teams channel names
  3. How to change your password in Microsoft Teams
  4. Managing notifications in Teams
  5. Appropriately using likes and reactions
  6. How to record on Microsoft Teams
  7. Background images for Microsoft Teams
  8. Microsoft Teams best practices for messaging Slack users
  9. Microsoft Teams best practices for messaging Webex users
  10. Add some Microsoft Teams integrations
  11. Using the Microsoft Teams web app
  12. How to delete chats in Microsoft Teams
  13. How to delete channels in Microsoft Teams
  14. Microsoft Teams out of office

How to create a team in Microsoft Teams

Before you create a team, make the decision whether your topic should be a group chat or needs a dedicated team. 

Jacob Simon, Unified Collaboration Analyst at Foot Locker, says “Know the limitations of chats and when to create a proper team.”

Group chats are ideal for gathering people together to discuss something one-off.

For example, when you need to catch up on a project but don’t need to flag your activity to the rest of the team.

You might be part of the design team working on a new graphic for a new product. The engineers don’t need to be part of your conversation as you walk through your new color palette.

Create a team when you have a set topic that needs collaboration from many parties.

For ongoing projects, or for private department breakout areas, teams are superior to group chats. Benefit from gathering your whole team in a dedicated area and use message threads and other team-based functionality to your advantage.

Here’s how to create a team in Microsoft Teams:

  1. Select Teams on the left-hand pane
  2. Choose Join or Create a Team
  3. Select Create a New Team
  4. Choose Build from Scratch or  Create from existing group
  5. Choose Private, Public, or Org-wide
  6. Add a name and description then click Create
  7. Add members from your organization using their name
  8. Invite external guests using their email address
  9. Add further channels to the “General” channel which gets created for you

To customize your channels, check out this video below.

Best practices for Microsoft Teams channel names

When you start creating teams and channels, you may have an idea of what a “good” name looks like.

It might take some iterating but once you’ve settled on a format, the most important thing you can do is to communicate the naming convention for your Microsoft Teams deployment.

For example, you might decide to keep things simple like having a General team and a channel per department.

Microsoft Teams naming conventions

This example is easy to stick to. But, when other users have access to create (and name) teams and channels, your guide will come in handy.

If members of the marketing team can create breakout channels for content marketing, product marketing, and email marketing, you have three users creating new channels.

They could be left to name channels as they like but you may need those channel names at a later date. Another example is time-sensitive channel names.

Badal Ratra, a frequent contributor in the Microsoft Teams community forum, asked this question:

Microsoft Teams channel names best practices

As a few people pointed out, dates sound like a good idea for a channel name but become impossible to manage and are out of date if your channel is used later than this date.

You should also think about the character length of your channel names.

When Teams is used on mobile or a minmized browser version, only the first few characters will be visible.

Renaming Microsoft Teams channel names

Changing a channel name at a later date is possible.

Team owners and members can change the name of a channel by selecting the channel in the list, then More options More options button > Edit this channel. 

If you don’t see the Edit this channel option, that means that a team owner has changed the permissions that members have.

For those looking to change the name of the General channel, this is something Microsoft locks down as your original and default channel.

How to change your password in Microsoft Teams

It is best practice to change your password frequently. Your organization may have rules for how long this period is. If they don’t, for maximum security, make sure you change your password every month. 

To change your password in Teams, follow these instructions:

  1. Sign in to your Microsoft account
  2. Select Security
  3. Choose Password security
  4. Enter your current password followed by a new password
  5. Enter your new password again to make sure you chose the password you were aiming for
  6. Hit Save

If you have forgotten your Teams password, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the login screen on Teams
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Choose Forgot your password?
  4. Check your email for a temporary password
  5. Follow the steps outlined to choose a new password

Managing notifications in Teams

Heather Bicknell, Product Marketing Manager at Lakeside Software, says there are three key things to look out for when it comes to balancing notifications.

  1. Tune your notifications if you’re suffering from notification fatigue – only turn on notifications for the channels that are most important. The rest can be checked on an ad-hoc basis.
  1. Use team @ tagging sparingly, especially for large groups. If you ping people too frequently in items that don’t concern them, they’ll start to ignore you. The object of @ tagging becomes redundant when overused.
  1. Create new teams and channels to avoid sprawl and unnecessary complexity. If something feels off-topic in a particular channel, it probably belongs in its own channel with the right team members.

Appropriately using likes and reactions

Unlike on social media, where likes indicate agreement or endorsement, use likes to confirm you have read a message or actioned a task.

For example, if a member of your team asks if you’ve completed the billing run for this week, a simple like confirms to them it’s complete.

Reactions, on the other hand, should be used for agreement and endorsement. That’s why there’s so many! You can like, love, smile, be shocked, express sadness, or anger at something a team member has said.

Microsoft Teams reactions

How to record on Microsoft Teams

If you are hosting a Teams meeting for training or an interview, it is best practice to record this meeting. 

Once recorded, you can playback both video and audio components of your meeting. These can be used for marketing materials, training videos, podcasts, or just listening back for a key quote from the person you interviewed.

During a Teams meeting, hit the … button and select “Start recording”.

How to record on Microsoft Teams

You will know your meeting is recording as Teams will display this message at the top of your meeting.

How to record on Microsoft Teams

To download or playback your recording, you have two options.

You can either navigate to your meeting in Teams. Here, you have the option to listen or watch back the meeting within your Teams client.

How to record on Microsoft Teams

Your second option is to log in to Microsoft Stream. In Stream, you have access to a list of all Teams meeting recordings. You can download, playback, edit, and share from Stream.

Microsoft Stream

Microsoft Teams background images

If you’re working from home, or a sensitive environment, use Microsoft Teams background images to hide your background.

In Microsoft Teams, you have several options to hide your background.

  1. Blur your background 

To do this:

  • Click on your audio and video settings screen when you join a meeting
  • Choose the ellipses “…” for more options
  • Tap on Blur my background
  1. Use a Teams background image

To do this:

  • Tap the … when you’re in a Teams meeting
  • Click “Show background effects”
  • Choose your image from the default options
  • Click preview to test it out
  • Click apply to save your background image
Microsoft Teams background images

For something more advanced, and to stand out in front of your boss, colleagues, or clients, you can opt for a third-party background.

Premium Microsoft Teams backgrounds

To download a selection of premium Microsoft Teams backgrounds, you can choose from 300 high-quality images and videos here.

Microsoft Teams best practices for messaging Slack users

If you have external contacts (or internal) who use Slack instead of Microsoft Teams, what is your current experience?

Do you switch to Slack every time you need to chat with them? Maybe you make them switch to Teams even though they use Slack all day?

Instead of switching between apps to accommodate others, create a universal channel between the two platforms.

This allows you to stay in Microsoft Teams and your contact to stay in Slack.

Chat with Microsoft Teams and Slack users without leaving Cisco Webex Teams

To connect with Slack users without leaving Teams, follow these steps:

For Microsoft Teams admins

If you’re an admin on your Microsoft Teams tenant, you can install the app directly.

Once installed, send your unique channel URL to any contacts you wish to invite into the channel. Or use the “invite by email” tool and your contact will receive an invitation to join your universal channel. They can join via the same install flow but in Slack. 

When your contacts join your universal channel, you can start to chat cross-company and cross-platform!

For non-admins

Step 1

  • Make sure you’re on a paid Microsoft Teams plan. We’re unable to get organization/tenant information on free accounts so the app won’t work as intended.
  • Open Microsoft Teams.

Step 2

From the sidebar, find and click on “Apps“.

  • If the option to install an app doesn’t show up, this might mean you don’t have permission to install the application.
  • You can either ask your administrator to grant you permission or forward them an email with the app install details.
Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Slack users

Step 3

Search Mio Universal Channels in the search bar and select the result on the right.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Slack users

Step 4

Select the down arrow 🔽 on the “Add” button and choose Add to a team.

NOTE: The app will not work as intended if it’s not added to a specific team.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Slack users

Step 5

On the following screen, search for the channel of a Team you want to install Mio in and select Set up a bot.

NOTE: You can always add Mio to more Teams later.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Slack users

Step 6

Check for a direct message from the Mio Universal Channels bot and click Authenticate to login to your account.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Slack users

Step 7

Congratulations, you installed Mio Universal Channels! Look for a message from Mio Universal Channels to get started.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Slack users

Type ‘help’ in a direct message to the Mio Universal Channels bot for further help.

You may also like: 6 Ways to Connect Slack and Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams best practices for messaging Webex users 

What happens when you need to chat with someone who uses Webex for collaboration? 

It could be a contractor, a supplier, or even a client. Whoever they are, you shouldn’t need to leave Teams to talk to them.

By installing a universal channel between your Teams app and your contact’s Webex Teams app, you can chat cross-platform and cross-domain.

See it in action below:

To install a universal channel in Teams, follow these steps:

For Microsoft Teams admins

If you’re an admin on your Microsoft Teams tenant, you can install the app directly.

Once installed, send your unique channel URL to any contacts you wish to invite into the channel. Or use the “invite by email” tool and your contact will receive an invitation to join your universal channel. They can join via the same install flow but in Webex Teams. 

When your contacts join your universal channel, you can start to chat cross-company and cross-platform!

For non-admins

Step 1

  • Make sure you’re on a paid Microsoft Teams plan. We’re unable to get organization/tenant information on free accounts so the app won’t work as intended.
  • Open Microsoft Teams.

Step 2

From the sidebar, find and click on “Apps“.

  • If the option to install an app doesn’t show up, this might mean you don’t have permission to install the application.
  • You can either ask your administrator to grant you permission or forward them an email with the app install details.
Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Webex users

Step 3

Search Mio Universal Channels in the search bar and select the result on the right.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Webex users

Step 4

Select the down arrow 🔽 on the “Add” button and choose Add to a team.

NOTE: The app will not work as intended if it’s not added to a specific team.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Webex users

Step 5

On the following screen, search for the channel of a Team you want to install Mio in and select Set up a bot.

NOTE: You can always add Mio to more Teams later.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Webex users

Step 6

Check for a direct message from the Mio Universal Channels bot and click Authenticate to login to your account.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Webex users

Step 7

Congratulations, you installed Mio Universal Channels! Look for a message from Mio Universal Channels to get started.

Microsoft Teams best practices: setup a universal channel to talk to Webex users

Type ‘help’ in a direct message to the Mio Universal Channels bot for further help.

You may also like: 5 Ways to Connect Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex

Add some Microsoft Teams integrations

Microsoft Teams is full of pre-built apps to make the Teams experience better for users of Office 365 apps like SharePoint and Excel.

It could be the reason you’re using Teams in the first place. In fact, 59% of Office 365 users are using Microsoft Teams.

Outside of the Office 365 suite, there are tons of Microsoft Teams integrations made to help you use Teams as your primary tool for work.

Tools like these help users combine their Office 365 and [any other tool] experience into a single pane of glass:

  • Mio
  • Zoom
  • Cisco Webex Meetings
  • Cacoo
  • LucidChart
  • Mural
  • Wrike
  • Givitas
  • Mindmeister
  • Jell
  • Meistertask
  • Soapbox
  • ServiceNow
  • Hive
  • Woobot
  • Any many, many more.

Check out the full post of Microsoft Teams integrations here.

Using the Microsoft Teams web app

If you find yourself in an area where you don’t have enough bandwidth to load your Teams desktop app, or you are using a shared computer that doesn’t have Teams installed, try using the Microsoft Teams web app.

Here, you have access to most of the features you have in your desktop app. The major difference? There’s no download and you only need your browser CPU to start using Teams.

Go to https://teams.microsoft.com to access the Microsoft Teams web app. Click Use the web app instead so you don’t start a new download of Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams web app

You can use the same credentials as you do your desktop app.

Alternatively, you can use the Microsoft Teams mobile app. If you are in between desktops or don’t have space to get your laptop out on a train, the Teams mobile app allows you to keep track of conversations in your teams and channels.

Microsoft Teams mobile app

How to delete chats in Microsoft Teams

One of the Microsoft Teams best practices that sounds a little odd is deleting chats. 

If you’ve sent the wrong information or changed your mind on an idea, you can edit or delete chats in Microsoft Teams.

All you need to do is find the message you wish to delete and  hover over the message until the emojis and  appears:

How to delete chats in Microsoft Teams

Click and choose delete message if your message is no longer relevant. Choose edit message if you made a typo or wish to change your message.

How to delete chats in Microsoft Teams

Once you have deleted your message, you will see a confirmation message where your message was before.

How to delete chats in Microsoft Teams

How to delete channels in Microsoft Teams

It is best practice to delete channels in Microsoft Teams if they become unused.

Rather than subjecting users to a channel list full of unused channels, you can choose to to delete them.

If you need to delete an entire channel in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft provides simple instructions to do so.

You will need to be logged into the desktop version or Android version of Teams to do so. As of August 2020, iOS does not support channel deletion.

To delete a channel, go to the channel name and click More options More options button > Delete this channel.

When you delete a channel, you will lose all it’s contents and conversation history.

Why can’t I delete a channel in Teams?

There are several reasons you may not be able to delete a channel in Microsoft Teams. These include:

  • Admin rights for deletion (contact your Teams admin)
  • Retention policy does not allow for channel deletion (SharePoint settings)
  • Private channel (only creator of channel or admin can delete)

If none of the above work, it could be a possible bug in Teams. Try reporting to Microsoft via your Office 365 portal.

Microsoft Teams out of office

This Microsoft Teams best practice is much like the world of email. If you’re not available because you’re on vacation or traveling, your co-workers need to know.

To set your Microsoft Teams out of office, follow these steps:

  1. Click your profile image in the top right-hand corner
  2. Choose Set status message
  3. Type your out of office message
  4. To redirect people to other co-workers in your absence, you can @ mention them
  5. Check show when people message me
  6. Select the time period you wish the message to last for
  7. Click Done.
Microsoft Teams out of office

These Microsoft Teams best practices should be enough to keep you going for a little while.

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