18 Tips for Working Remote with Microsoft Teams

Posted by Jordan Weber on Mon, Apr, 20, 2020 @ 15:04 PM

Your go-to guide to working remote with Microsoft Teams.

Working remote doesn't have to be a pain, but it's a sure bet you'll be miserable if you're stuck trying it without the right tools. Say what you will about quarantines, but be thankful we have the internet to help us deal. The past couple years have also seen a surge in the development of office chat and online collaboration platforms. Programs like Teams and Slack are a great deal more sophisticated than your average messaging app; indeed these products have evolved into complete work-sharing platforms. Sagiss has spent the past several years deploying and managing Teams for our clients. We'd like to take this opportunity to share and pass on some of that knowledge to other people who spend a lot of time in Teams. 

 

Table of Contents

Customize your profile settings

1. Set your profile picture

2. Set Your Availability

3. Set Your Status Message

Customize your virtual workspace

4. How to Pin a Chat in Teams

5. How to Name a Chat in Teams

6. How To Create Teams Contact Groups

7. Add to Contacts to a Teams Group

8. Configure Teams Notifications

9. Follow Someone's Status

Use The Video Chat Tools

10. How to Blur your video chat background

11. How to Work While on a Teams Video Call

Create dedicated channels for individual clients/projects

12. How To Create A Teams Chat Group

13. How to Create a Teams Channel

Use The Bots & Integrations

14. Example: Install Polly

Video conferencing

15. Use Teams-specific video-conferencing hardware

Edit Teams files in multiple ways

16. Edit a Document in Teams

17. How to Edit Teams Files Using the Desktop App

1
8. Chat about a Specific File

This article is no-frills guide to help you master the most useful features of Microsoft Teams. After reading this you'll know how to customize your profile settings, notifications, arrange organize your chats, collaborate on files, and much more.

***Note*** This article is part of a series of tips and news updates regarding Microsoft Teams. Links to related Teams articles are here below:

Have a question or something you'd like to see added to our guide? Contact us with your suggestion and we'll email you back as quickly as we can. Ready? Let's get started.

Customize your profile settings

Adjust your profile to better reflect who you are and how to best get in touch with you. Below we review how to set your profile picture, your availability, and status message.

1. Set your profile picture


1. Navigate to the top-right and click on the circle with your initials.How to set your profile picture in Microsoft Teams
2. Click on "Change picture".How to set your profile picture in Microsoft Teams Step 2

3. Here you have the option to upload a new profile picture, or change an existing one. How to set your profile picture in Microsoft Teams Step 3

For this example we've chosen to customize our profile picture with a car logo, but you can choose any image you like.

2. Set your Availability

How to set your Availability in Microsoft Teams1. Navigate to the top right corner, click on your profile picture.






2. Hover your mouse over "Available" to select from a list of status options. Bear in mind that your status may automatically change to "Away" if you leave Teams idle for several minutes. 

3. Set your Status Message 

How to Set a Status Message in Teams Step 11. Navigate to the top-right hand corner and click on your profile picture. Then click on "Set status message".



How to Set a Status Message in Teams Step 12. You now have the option to set a customized status message.

In our example, we've set the status message to read, "Working remote until further notice. You can reach me via Teams, email, or my cell."  


How to Set a Status Message in Teams Step 13. You can also set the duration of your status message. We have our example changed from "Today" to "never", to make the message remain indefinitely.







 

 

Customize your virtual workspace:

Invest a few minutes in your virtual workspace to make it suit your personal style of work. Much of the Teams interface is customize-able in one way or another. You can re-arrange the order of your chats, and even give them names. In this section you will also learn how to create contacts, contact groups, and set your notification preferences.

4. How to Pin a Chat:

1. Keep track of important chat strings by pinning them to the top of your chat list. Navigate to the left-hand side, and click on "Chat"

How to pin a chat in Microsoft Teams Step 1

2. Right-click the important chat you wish to pin. 

3. Click on "Pin"

4. The chat string will now remain pinned to the top of your list of chats.

5. How to Name a Chat:

How to pin a chat in Microsoft Teams Step 2

1. Navigate to the left-hand side, and click on the "Chat" tab

2. Click on the chat you wish to rename

3. When the chat string open, click on the pencil icon near the top of the window. Change the name and click "save". Easy as that!


6. How to Create Contact Groups:

How to Create Contact Groups in Microsoft Teams Step 1

1. You can use Teams to keep track of all of your contacts. Navigate to the left and click on the "Chat" tab.


2. Look near the bottom right-hand side of the screen and click on "Create a new contact group".

7. How to Add to Contact Groups in Teams:

How to Edit Contact Groups in Microsoft Teams

1. Now that you have a contact group setup, you'll want to begin filling it with contacts. Click on the Chat tab, and then click on the "Contacts" tab near the top of the window. 

2. Here you'll see the contacts you'veo Teams. Click on the "•" next to the group where the contact will go. Click on "Add a contact to this group".

3. Begin typing the name of the contact you wish to add. Select from the suggestions and then click "add". You're all set!

8. How to Configure Notifications:


How to Configure Notification Settings in Microsoft Teams Step 11. Having the wrong notification settings can be a real pain. Control how Teams notifies you of various events, such as receiving a chat message.




How to Configure Notification Settings in Microsoft Teams Step 2

2. Click on your profile picture, and then scroll down and select "Settings". Then look to the left and click the "Notifications" tab.




3. From here you can enable or disable badges, banners, sounds, and other pop-ups. Disabling message preview pop-ups could be especially useful to companies reliant on web-conferencing. Turning off pop-up message previews is a good way to avoid accidentally sharing snippets of confidential info when you share your screen.

9. Follow Someone's Status:

How to follow someone's status in Microsoft Teams Step 11. To be notified when a specific person is available or offline, go to the bottom of the Notifications menu (see example above) and click "Manage notifications".

How to follow someone's status in Microsoft Teams Step 22. Type the name of person whose status you wish to follow, and click from the suggestions that appear.







 

 

Use The Video Chat Tools

10. How to Blur your video chat background:


1. How to blur my video chat background in Teams Step 1To turn on background blur during a meeting, look down to the conference bar and click the  "•••". Click on "Blur my background". 

***Note: Not all devices currently support this feature. We suggest following the Microsoft  Teams support site for more information on compatibility with specific devices. 


11. How to Work while on a Teams video call:


How to edit files while on a video call in Teams Step 11. There will be times when you'll have webcams running and will need to access shared files at the same time. Teams makes accessing files during a video conference very easy.

How to edit files while on a video call in Teams Step 22. During a call, look to the left and click on the "Files" tab. This will minimize your call screen within the Teams window. You can then explore files as the meeting continues.

How to edit files while on a video call in Teams Step 33. Click on the desired file and it will open in Teams as well, with your video conference overlaid on top.










Create dedicated channels for individual clients/projects

12. How to Create a Chat Group:

1. Chat groups are easy ways to loop 2 or more people into a running dialogue. Members of the same project team may find it useful to create a chat group where they can relay group-specific information that doesn't belong in a general chat channel.

How to create a new chat group in Microsoft Teams Step 12. Look to the left and click on the "Chat" tab. Then click the  icon at the top of the screen to create a new chat.





How to create a new chat group in Microsoft Teams Step 2

3. In the "To:" blank, begin typing the names of the people you'd like to include in the new chat group. Select the names as the suggestions appear. Finish creating the group by sending a message.

How to create a new chat group in Microsoft Teams Step 3

4. To name/rename a chat group, navigate back to the chat group and click the pencil icon, to be found just under the search bar.


13. How to Create a channel:

Chat groups are meant to facilitate group communication on a specific issue or task, whereas Channels are a more general and permanent category of conversation. Some teams may find it helpful to create dedicated channels for each of their clients and/or long term projects. 

1. Look to the left and click on the "Teams" tab. Find the team for the channel you wish to create and click it's "•" icon. Click "Add channel".

How to Create a Channel in Microsoft Teams

2. Give your channel a name and description, and select privacy settings. You can choose to make this channel accessible to everyone on the team, or only select individual. In the example below we choose to make the new channel visible to all team members.

If you follow these steps and do not see an option to create a channel, your administrator may have disabled this feature. We recommend speaking with your current IT support provider to find a resolution.

Use the bots/integrations

14. Teams come pre-built with many integrations for popular office apps we use every day. Let's install an office app called Polly, as an example.

How to install Polly in Microsoft Teams Step 1

1. Polly is  a basic office polling app. It's easy to activate within Teams. From the left panel, click the "•" next to your team. Click "Manage Team".

How to install Polly in Microsoft Teams Step 2

2. Navigate to the right and click on the "Apps" tab.

How to install Polly in Microsoft Teams Step 3

3. The most popular apps and add-ons appear when you click into the tab. Polly might be on the list already. If not, use the search blank on left hand side to find Polly.




4. Search for Polly and add it to your bots! You can access it from the Apps tab once it's been enabled. 

5. Now that it's installed, try experimenting with the app. We don't have a how-to article for Polly yet, so in the meantime we recommend following these instructions on the Microsoft tech community website. You can also check out this quick clip on how to deploy a poll with Polly in Microsoft Teams.

6. As you can see in the screenshot above, there are pre-built bots for many existing apps, including Trello, Zoom, Cisco Webex, Yammer, and many others. We recommend spending a couple minutes to browse the store and see which integrations are available. 

Video conferencing

15. Use Teams-specific video-conferencing hardware
conferencecam-group

A number of companies manufacture video conferencing equipment designed specifically for Microsoft Teams. At Sagiss we use a Logitech system that works well. The system uses a dedicated control pad at the conference room table, paired with speakers, mic and camera mounted at the TV. 

Conferencing hardware designed specifically for a given chat application has its advantages. For one there are no compatibility issues. You don't have to worry if your chosen mic or camera will work because the manufacturer has already seen to that. Second, the interface on the conference room pad is very similar to the chat interface users see on their desktop app. Users on their first conference call with the system should find the controls relatively familiar and easy to use. 

If you're interested in a building a setup like this, we recommend speaking to a local IT support provider to get started. If you are with a business around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Sagiss can help you! Please feel free to contact us anytime to get the process started with a complimentary network assessment and consultation. 

Image source: https://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/microsoft-rooms

Edit Teams files in multiple ways

Once a Microsoft-based file has been uploaded into Teams, users may view that file in a variety of ways. This is to to say you can open some files within the Teams app itself, from your browser window, and even from the desktop app. Regardless of how you choose to access the document, your changes will push to the central cloud-based document.

16. Edit a Document in Teams

The quickest way to edit a file in Teams is to use Teams itself, assuming of course this is a Microsoft file we're talking about (.doc, .xls, .ppt, etc.) Here's how it works:

How to edit a Microsoft document in Teams step 1

1. Navigate to the left hand side of th screen and click on your desired Channel. Scroll over to the right and click on the "Files" tab. Scroll down and pick out the file you want to edit. In next series of examples, we'll be editing an Excel file called "Holiday Gift Tracker".

How to edit a Microsoft document in Teams step 2

2. Click on the file you wish to edit, and it will open it Teams. 

How to edit a Microsoft document in Teams step 3

3. You'll see the file open in Teams with the apps usual toolbars pinned at the top of the screen. It should like look a lot like your desktop app, as in our example here: 








17. How to Edit Teams Files Using the Desktop App

That said, you can also make these same changes from the desktop app, if you prefer to keep your workspace and chat windows separate. Here's how it works:

1. Navigate to the left-hand side and click on your team. Then look toward the center and click on the "Files" tab.

How to Edit Microsoft Teams files in the Desktop app2. Scroll down to the file you wish to edit. Click on the "•" next to the file name. Move your cursor through the menu to "Open", where you'll have three options. 

3. The "Open in Excel Online" option will open a browser window and offer the user a browser-based version of Excel. As we've seen already, editing within Teams simply open the document in the Teams window itself. Finally, you have the option to "Open in Excel", which opens the document in your desktop app. 

How to edit Teams files in a browser window

4. Bonus Tip: What if you open a file in Teams and then decide it's better to work in the desktop or browser app? It's easy to switch between the different platforms. Once the file is open in Teams, look to the top of the screen. You'll find options to re-open the file on your desktop or a browser window. 

18. Chat about a Specific File:

There's a very handy way to review documents as a Team. Use the "Conversations" feature on the file editing screen to examine and discuss the contents of a particular file. 

1. Click on the channel containing the file you want to edit, and then click on the "Files" tab near the top. Click on your desired file and it will open in Teams. 

2. Once the file is open, look to the top-right and click on "Conversation". A chat window will open on the right side of the screen.

How to have a conversation about a file in Teams Step 1

3. Begin by typing "@" followed by the name of the person/group you are trying to reach. Choose from the suggestions that appear as you type, and hit enter. In the example here, we are reaching out to Rob Schnetzer.







4. With the contact's name tagged, send a message. You may now choose to discuss work, whereas I chose to ask Rob for a good dad joke (the man always has a dozen more ready to go at a moment's notice; it's really quite impressive).How to have a conversation about a file in Teams Step 2





















That about wraps it up for the moment. Bookmark this guide and stay tuned to our blog for more updates on how you and your company can use Teams to it's fullest. 

Have questions about Teams? We're here to help! Contact us today and we'll respond within 24 business hours to schedule a free consultation and/or a general IT network assessment. 

 

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft Teams, Collaboration