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Improving Teamwork and Collaboration with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration hub built around group chat with a fast growing list of to all the apps your team needs.

Top Features

  • Group Chat: One-to-many messaging to collaborate with coworkers and external users. Keep projects, departments, and everyone up-to-date and organized all in one place.
  • Private Messaging: One-to-one messaging to collaborate with coworkers or external users. Collaborate using text, voice, or video. Quickly share documents, images, and more.
  • Workspace: Every team can customize their workspace with Tabs, Connectors and Bots. With over 150 integrations, file uploads, and chat every team can build a custom space for their team.
Microsoft Teams communicare through chat

Accessing Teams

Microsoft has developed apps for every device. Use the following links to access or download Microsoft Teams for your device.

What’s a Team?

A team is the foundation of the Microsoft Teams app. A team has members, channels, and apps.

A member is a person that has access to the team. If the team privacy settings are Public anyone within your organization can join the team. If the privacy settings are Private only invited members can join the team. A member can be an Owner, member, or guest. Owners manage the team by inviting new members, setting up permissions, and editing settings. Guests are members of the team that are external to your organization. Guests cannot perform all the tasks members can for example add apps or join public teams that they are not explicitly invited to.

Channels are dedicated sections within a team to keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects, disciplines — -whatever works for your team!” By default, a new team will have a general channel. Your team can chose to create a channel for each project, product, or any other logical organization your team may decide. A channel contains group chat, tabs, and connectors. Tabs are a way to add rich content directly to your teams channel. Tabs can be OneNote, wikis, documents, or one of many 3rd party apps to integrate into your team. They are a fantastic way to connect all your teams apps in one place for fast easy access. Connectors allow you to connect different apps into your team chat. You can connect Bing News and get daily updates on your industry, connect to your Trello boards and receive activity updates directly in your channel chat window, and more.

Navigating Microsoft Teams

A bit daunting at first look, Teams truly is a simple app with an intuitive flow based on improving productivity of your day-to-day tasks. The Teams window is separated into 4 primary panes: app header, primary navigation, secondary navigation, and the main messages pane.

App Header Bar

Microsoft Teams App Bar

The app header bar is located at the very top of Microsoft Teams. The bar will never move or be hidden. The Waffle menu will help navigate across other apps. The Compose button can be clicked at any time to immediately be navigated to your one-on-one chat to quickly instant message anyone within your organization. The Command Bar is used to search and perform other quick commands. The search function will search the open chat or channel messages that you’re currently viewing. Like most applications, the Profile button is located in the top right. A quick click will show your profile options, help, as well as, keyboard shortcuts.

Primary Navigation Menu

Microsoft Teams primary navigation

The primary navigation will be located on the far left of the window. Similar to the app header bar, the primary navigation menu will never move.

Microsoft Teams has a LOT of powerful features built in and can be extended to include more apps. The primary navigation bar is designed to help you quickly navigate between the different features.

The Activity button will navigate to a feed of all activity across your teams. The activity feed is a great place to track multiple chats or get caught up on any action you missed while you were away.

Chat will navigate Teams to your private chat where you can see your private messages or start a new private discussion. The Teams button will display your team workspaces where you can have conversations and access the resources that have been connected to one of your teams. The Meetings button will show your scheduled team meetings where you can quickly schedule a meeting with one of your teams. Clicking the Ellipsis will display a drop down of additional apps including your files. The bottom of the primary navigation menu may change slightly but the most important button is the Store. By clicking the store button you’ll see a list of different apps, many free, which can be connected to your Microsoft Teams workspace.

Secondary Navigation Bar

Microsoft Teams favorites

Located directly next to the primary navigation bar, the secondary navigation bar is used as additional navigation throughout Teams. Unlike the app bar and primary navigation bar, the secondary navigation bar is dynamic and will change depending on your selection in the primary navigation bar. For example, when selecting chat you will see a list of your most recent private chats. When selecting Teams in the primary navigation bar, you’ll see a list of your teams. Lastly, at the very bottom of the bar you will find the Join or create a team button used to create a new team or find a public team to join.

Messages Pane

Microsoft Teams General channel

The primary pane will contain the content of your current view. At the very top of the messages pane is a header section. The header section will contain meta information about your current view like the title of the channel, and privacy settings. Directly next to the title is an ellipsis, when clicked a drop down menu will display management options like adding connectors, getting the channels emails address etc. Directly below the title will be the channel tabs. Tabs can be added or removed to quickly connect your team to different apps and information. Adding tabs for the most common information your teams needs is one of the best ways to improve productivity. Add a wiki with information that will needs to be referenced a lot, add Planner to quickly manage projects, etc.


Microsoft Teams chat

Chat in a team channel is separated into Conversations. An image of the person, bot or app that starts the conversation will be displayed to the left of the topic. a reply button will be located at the bottom of the conversation. When clicked a text box will be displayed.

A text box to start a new conversation is located at the bottom of the messages pane. Most users will accidentally start a new conversation when they mean to reply. It’s a common pattern that you’ll learn quickly! Keep your communication organized in conversations to help find conversations later and allow multiple conversations to take place at the same time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope you found it beneficial. Feel free to contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn with any questions.