In this four-part blog series, we share our experiences of some of the key highlights of using Microsoft Teams: video calling, internal collaboration, Teams calling, and Teams rooms.

Thinking of a certain seventies advert, you might understand how we feel about Microsoft Teams – we liked it so much we bought the company.

Okay, we haven’t acquired Microsoft. But since we’ve adopted Microsoft Teams into our organisation, we’ve noticed significant improvements in productivity and efficiencies.

If you’re familiar with Microsoft apps, Teams is brilliant for enhancing communication and collaboration in the workforce. Instead of having to use different collections of apps and services for productivity and communication, Microsoft Teams brings together chat, meetings, calling, files, and apps, all in one place.

It’s little surprise that Forrester Research found that 3.2 hours per user per week is lost in poor team collaboration, information sharing, and meetings, as we’ve first-hand experience of what this integrated business tool can do.

Also, as Teams is constantly evolving with innovative and useful features, we’re finding new and better ways of working together and sharing ideas.

Microsoft Teams is an integrated tool within Office 365 and you may already have a Teams licence, so it’s worth taking a closer look at what it can do.

Video and Voice Conferencing

Originally designed to replace Skype for Business and compete against teamwork tool solutions like Slack, Microsoft Teams simplifies and enhances teamwork in virtually any office environment.

Like other businesses and organisations, we have offices, staff, suppliers and partners in multiple locations. But with flexible and remote working, it’s not always easy or practical to hold meetings in one place.

Getting to and attending meetings can eat up time and productivity. And, it can be particularly inefficient and frustrating if, instead of attending meetings in person, an outcome could have been more conveniently arrived at over a video call.

But, being humans, we’re social creatures. We value face-to-face interaction and, whether we like it or not, reading body language is important in communication and teamwork. This is where video conferencing is particularly useful.

Better collaboration – any time, any place, any device

Microsoft Teams has all the features and more of competing standalone solutions like Trello, Skype and Slack, but unlike them it stores everything all in one place. This means everyone can easily communicate, find and share what they need, when they need it, anywhere, and on any device. No more cluttered email inboxes, or switching of apps and devices just to communicate with colleagues.

Using Teams internally and externally, we’ve noticed huge productivity gains thanks to faster and more focussed interaction and decision making. Also, with better file sharing and more efficient team collaboration, projects are progressed faster.

As many of our staff work from remote offices, or from home, or they need to multitask with other projects from their workstation, our internal meetings are increasingly having team members joining us via Teams.

Many prefer to video call each other from their workstations over booking a meeting room, as they can share content and achieve outcomes faster.

For example, when our Technical and Project teams began engaging with our customers on Teams with project updates the feedback was very positive. While, initially there was some reservation with our customers and staff, we’ve since noticed a shift towards video calling.

Key learnings

We’ve learned a lot since we started working with Microsoft Teams, and we continue to find new uses for the many rich and evolving features.

Before Teams, we used Skype for Business, but issues with audio and frozen screens were common. Zoom was an improvement, especially with webcams and headsets instead of inbuilt mics and speakers (which we recommend all staff should have).

But when we started using Teams Video Calls, it was another level again. Now we can share files and links in Teams, record and transcribe meetings for later viewing, and we can even do a word search to skip to specific sections of the video.

While in-person meetings are still preferred, particularly when discussing project plans in detail, for most other times, Teams has become a major time saving tool here at The I.T. Team.

Even sales calls are starting to happen over Teams. Having a first meeting with someone over a video call is not quite the same as meeting in person, but many accept that Teams is a fast and effective way to communicate – especially if the customer is in a different location.

In summary, here are our key learnings with Microsoft Teams Video Calls:

  • The quality and stability of Teams video calls is excellent.
  • If you have an Office 365 business license, you may also have access to Teams.
  • Teams can now replace your Phone System with Teams Calling. More info on that to come, but if you would like to know more, reach out.
  • You can invite anyone internally or externally to your Teams meetings in just a few clicks.
  • Anyone can join via Web Browser or a basic downloaded app.
  • Suggest a video call first as the preferred meeting type. If your customer or contact has a preferred technology (i.e. Zoom/GoToMeeting) that’s fine as well.