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This guide will take you through the essential Microsoft Teams features

Following the rapid shift to remote or hybrid working, many employees were simply expected to know how to use video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams. However, for the majority of the workforce, a day spent in the office meant little more than responding to emails. The sudden adoption of Microsoft Teams for long-distance meetings and remote collaboration took some getting used to.

Given the pace at which the Covid-19 pandemic spread, the usual adjustment period and training to accommodate the use of Teams simply didn’t take place. Fortunately, Microsoft has tried to make the transition as streamlined as possible by providing an intuitive platform that is full of easy-to-use features for even the most inexperienced IT user.

However, if you’re still unsure about using Teams, we’ve come up with a handy guide that goes over some of the most important features below:

Signing up

Perhaps the most important step to using Teams is the first one: signing up. This is easily achieved by visiting https://products.office.com/microsoft-teams. Then simply enter the email address associated with your Microsoft account and select “Next”. Then enter your password and select “Sign in”. There may be a few more details to enter but then you should select “Set up Teams.”

After that is complete, it’s time to choose how you want to open and use Teams. Microsoft Teams is available in several different versions – with Windows, Mac, mobile, and web options all available. Download or access your chosen version of Teams and the signup process is complete. If you want to know more about logging in, this guide will show you how.

Exploring the Teams interface

The best way to understand how to use Microsoft Teams is to explore its user interface. On the left, you’ll see the App bar, where you’ll find a whole host of different icons. These include “Activity,” which displays mentions, replies, and other notifications, as well as “Meetings” or “Calendar,” either of which is synced with your Outlook calendar and provides a quick way of viewing all your upcoming meetings. There’s also “Chat,” “Files,” “Calls,” “Store,” and “Feedback.”

Aside from the App bar, the interface also boasts the “Teams” section, which displays a list of the user’s teams, “Channel,” the “Command Bar,” and various “Tabs” that allow you to move between different Teams pages. There are lots of additional features to get to grips with as well, so it’s a good idea to start investigating the interface to see what’s on offer.

Collaborate in a Microsoft Teams hub

In order to collaborate with others in Teams, you first need to join or create a Teams hub. To do so, select “Teams” from the App bar, followed by “Join” or “Create a Team.” If you’re creating a team, enter your chosen name and description, select your privacy settings and add your members.

A team can have a maximum of 2,500 members – so the opportunities for collaboration are pretty vast. You can also assign roles to each individual, such as “Owner” or “Member.” If you’re finished with a particular Teams hub, you can always choose to “Delete the team.”

Setting up a Teams call

Another of the most important actions to understand on Teams is how to set up a call. One of the ways is to select the “Schedule a meeting” button during a chat to set up a call with all the people involved in the chat. Alternatively, you can select the “Calendar Meetings” button followed by “New meeting.” Then if you select a time in the calendar, a scheduling form will appear for you to finish setting up the meeting. Once you’re happy with the meeting details, click “Save” and the relevant individuals will be sent a meeting invitation.

Don’t worry if you want to invite someone that doesn’t have Teams to a meeting either. As long you have their full email address, you can invite them. They’ll receive an email with a link to the meeting so they can join just like any other attendee that has a Teams license.

Take part in chat

Sometimes a full-blown video call may not be necessary, so Teams enables

collaboration to occur through its chat function. In order to start a new chat, click on the “Compose Box” and begin typing. Click “Send” to deliver your message to any individual in the team or channel that you’re working in.

One of the best aspects of the chat function is that any new member that is added can look back at all the previous messages – even those that were posted before they joined. This means it is easy for them to get up to speed with a new project.

Sharing files

Following the creation of a Teams hub, a SharePoint site is automatically set up, complete with a document library for each channel. Any file uploaded to Teams will be visible from the Files tab and simultaneously stored in SharePoint. If you want to open the file directly from SharePoint, you can click on the three dots located after the file name and select “Open in SharePoint.”

Accessing help

If you feel like you’ve exhausted all the assistance you can find from third parties, you can always try Teams’ built-in help feature. Towards the left-hand side of the app, you’ll find the “Help” button, where Teams provides localized advice on a host of topics. These are organized by feature, but there is also a “Videos” section displaying visual content on how to use the app.

Teams also has its own dedicated support webpage, which provides guidance, training, and tips so you can discover how any aspect of the platform works. With all that and the above guide, you’ll go from dummy to Teams expert in no time.

Fortunately, there’s another way to find the right app for your business: ask the experts. Contact us today for an IT assessment!

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechRadar.com SOURCE

There are three Microsoft 365 tools that are typically used for office communication and collaboration: Microsoft 365 Groups, Yammer, and Microsoft Teams. While these three are similar, did you know that there are subtle differences that set them apart from each other? Let’s take a look at some of these.

Microsoft 365 Groups

With Microsoft 365 Groups, every member gets a shared inbox, calendar, project planner, notebook, and document library. You can also integrate third-party apps like Twitter, Trello, and Mailchimp to Groups so notifications are sent directly to your shared inbox.

This means all relevant messages and information are sent to one place, so if your organization normally communicates via email, Microsoft 365 Groups is ideal. What’s more, HR and sales departments that communicate with external parties will also find plenty of uses for its email features.

A big downside of Microsoft 365 Groups, however, is email overload. Since all messages and notifications are sent to one inbox, users may become overwhelmed by the number of emails they have to sort through every day.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams, a chat-based collaboration platform, works with Skype for Business, so you can text, call, video chat, and share files with colleagues. Thanks to its seamless integrations with other Microsoft 365 apps, you can even work on shared files without leaving the app.

Unlike Groups, Microsoft Teams is designed for more advanced collaboration, making it great for completing projects with tight deadlines or other tasks requiring immediate feedback.

Yammer

Much like Groups and Teams, Yammer works well with other Microsoft 365 tools like Outlook and OneDrive. However, Yammer is a professional social media app designed to foster open communication and break down barriers between teams.

Yammer serves like a virtual office bulletin board: important files and announcements can be shared with the entire company through this platform. Users can also see the most popular post on their feeds, follow it, and even comment.

Yammer also takes design elements and features from social media apps like Facebook, making it a popular choice for companies with millennials in their workforce.

Although we’ve discussed the fundamental differences between Groups, Teams, and Yammer, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what each app can do. To figure out which apps you need, you must understand how your employees work, how they like to collaborate with one another, and what you want to achieve from such collaborations.

Fortunately, there’s another way to find the right app for your business: ask the experts. Contact us today for an IT assessment!

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Despite businesses’ reservations, remote working comes with numerous benefits, including lower overhead expenses and improved productivity. And with the coronavirus pandemic forcing employees to work from home, this might just be the tipping point for remote work to become the norm.

Enforced flexibility

A pandemic is one of the most socially, economically, and politically disruptive events that could ever happen. Infections and fatalities constantly increase, business operations are shut down, and scientists race against time to find a cure.

Companies lucky enough to remain operational still face a significant challenge: maintaining business continuity. For most, the simplest way to achieve this is by moving their business resources online and adopting an effective remote work strategy.

With resilience and careful decision-making — as well as the right tools and processes — you might just find your employees more productive, less stressed out by work, and expressive as ever.

A wealth of benefits

Remote work offers several benefits for both employees and employers. In addition to saving time and eradicating commute-related stress, remote work can improve employee productivity. A number of studies reveal that the freedom to create a comfortable environment and schedule encourages employees to perform at their best.

At the same time, employers benefit from reduced overhead expenses while also having access to a wider pool of applicants. Because workplace flexibility is among the top considerations of many young job seekers, remote work arrangements would be right up their alley.

Employers can also hire outside of reasonable commuting distance, as employees won’t have to report to the office as frequently, if not at all. What’s more, mandatory daily attendance is going out of fashion — more businesses are now prioritizing performance over hours clocked in. Many prefer focusing on the quality of outputs rather than just keeping people in the office from 9 to 5.

Businesses reap great rewards for recognizing performance instead of just presence. This approach makes for more engaged, efficient, and satisfied employees, consequently creating a healthy and progressive company culture.

Encouraging development

Many businesses believe that a traditional office setup helps bring about better relationships and collaborations. However, data actually points out that interpersonal behavior and communication — not solely proximity — are the key drivers of trust and teamwork.

Traditional work arrangements also make it easier for managers to look after their employees — it’s easy to see who is and isn’t at their workstation during office hours. However, mandating work hours and location makes sense only for time-sensitive and location-dependent jobs like retail, manual labor, and healthcare, where employees need to be physically present.

Meanwhile, for knowledge workers whose jobs involve non-routine problem solving, an office cube isn’t always the most conducive environment for devising solutions and innovations. Sometimes, the best and most unique ideas come from exposure to the surroundings, people, and events outside the confines of an office.

Embracing change

Being forced to adopt a work from home policy in the face of a global crisis isn’t an ideal circumstance to test the waters. Full-time remote work doesn’t and won’t work for all businesses. But this shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing projects and sustaining productivity and efficiency. Leverage your resources to help you weather the storm and emerge stronger than before.

Though we have yet to see if remote work is here to stay, it’s currently a nonnegotiable aspect of the corporate setup, and we should learn how to make the most out of it.

Having a strong strategy in place and the right tools and equipment are crucial to ensure effective communication, collaboration, and management. Our experts can help you configure the perfect remote working setup for your business.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

The global pandemic hasn’t defeated many hard-working managers and teams. They’re protecting themselves from the virus, meeting deadlines, collaborating on projects, and hitting business goals, all while working from home. In this article, we’ll go through a list of the essentials tools for the new normal that is remote working.

For both employers and employees, a remote working arrangement has attractive benefits. Organizations can tap into a potentially larger labor pool, hiring from just about anywhere and finding highly skilled talent at lower rates.

Fifty percent of remote workers reported increased job satisfaction and had 13.5 percent more calls completed. Being spared the stress of a daily commute and having a better work-life balance are factors to their happiness, and therefore, better productivity.

In the face of natural calamities, outages, and the ongoing pandemic, a distributed workforce becomes a necessary business continuity measure — a means to protect employees and keep productivity up, even as normal facilities remain unavailable.

But all of this was only possible because we have the technologies to support remote work. Barriers to remote working have been brought down by the advancement of remote working tools. With a plethora of software to choose from, we’ve selected the ones that help your remote teams thrive.

Remote desktop applications

Accessing your work computer while on the go or out of the office was once unheard of. Remote desktop apps have made it possible, allowing users to work remotely on a computer through another device and from any location.

Our picks: TeamViewer and Splashtop
Team Viewer has capabilities such as screen sharing, file transfer, wake-on-LAN, and clipboard transfer. Free for personal use, the app is easy to set up and is available for multiple operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Android. Meanwhile, Splashtop has similar capabilities but with the added benefit of “low-latency” transfers or the transfer of a high volume of data and messages with minimal delay.

Real-time communication and collaboration software

Every successful organization needs to communicate. When communication breaks down, productivity and engagement suffer. Given the lack of face-to-face contact, regular, real-time communication is arguably more critical for remote teams and their managers. The following apps make it possible, seamless, and simple.

Our picks: SlackMattermostRocketChatMicrosoft Teams, and Join.me
Deemed the alternative to email, Slack is the leader of the pack, with its robust API that allows integration with countless applications. Its basic functionality enables remote workers to direct message (DM) or create “collaboration hubs” around departments, projects, or any topic. Mattermost and Rocket Chat are open source tools that recreate many of Slack’s capabilities.

Microsoft Teams and Join.me are well-known video chat and conferencing apps. However, as a full collaboration and communication suite, Teams offers more for Windows users. It allows VoIP, direct and group messages, and integration with all the Office 365 apps. Not only is Join.me a free video-conferencing app, but it also allows participants to use a cool brainstorming feature called “whiteboarding” for real-time interaction on a shared document.

Project management essentials

When you’re managing a team of dozens located in different parts of the globe, things can start to fall apart quickly. Time differences and distance can create significant complexity if you lack the right tools. These two apps can help you overcome the challenges and streamline project organization and collaboration.

Our picks: Basecamp and Trello
Basecamp is a web-based management tool for planning and collaboration on projects. There’s no installation needed, just your regular web browser to access its powerful core functions that include task management, messaging, collaboration, file sharing, scheduling, quick search, and reporting.

Trello’s overall shining feature is its simplicity. The web-based tool’s approach to project management is built around one concept: the bulletin board. Users can create boards that represent projects and each board can be populated with cards assigned to specific members and customized with deadlines, comments, and attachments.

With the current global crisis, remote working tools have become even more crucial to sustaining productivity, accomplishing projects, and solidifying distributed teams. It’s important your organization chooses ones that are well-suited to budget, infrastructure, and goals. Our experts can help make a proper assessment and configure the perfect remote working setup. Talk to us today.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing employees to work from home, you and your staff can take advantage of Microsoft Teams to stay productive. Microsoft recently enhanced this already powerful tool’s capabilities, making it easier for more people to take advantage of its advanced features.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams combines workplace chat, video conferencing, and file storage and collaboration. It also has extensions that integrate with third-party apps, even those not made by Microsoft. As a unified communication and collaboration platform, Teams is like combining Slack, Google Drive, and Zoom into a single app.

How do you get Microsoft Teams?

If you have an Office 365 license, then you can readily access Microsoft Teams. But that’s not the only way to access and take advantage of the platform.

Individual users can use their work or school email address to sign up through this link. You will automatically receive a license valid until January 2021. This license lets you take advantage of chat, screen sharing and recording, video meetings with up to 250 participants, and Live Events for up to 10,000 participants.

If you have a Gmail or Outlook email address, you can sign up for the freemium version by clicking on this link. This version supports chat as well as group and one-on-one audio or video calling. It also gives you 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB of personal file storage.

The previous freemium version used to have various limits on users, but Microsoft opted to lift these restrictions on March 10. Another notable change is the inclusion of meetings requests, which Microsoft has committed to include in the freemium version in the future.

Microsoft also offers assistance to IT professionals looking to roll out Teams for their company. Microsoft offers a free Office 365 E1 for six months. All you have to do is to contact your Microsoft partner or sales representative.

If you work in the education sector , Microsoft recommends getting Office 365 A1, a free version specially created for educational institutions. This version is available for students, teachers, and administrative staff.

How does Microsoft Teams remain at peak performance during the crisis?

The sudden increase in remote workers is sure to put a lot of pressure on many platforms, but Microsoft Teams is more than prepared to handle the load. In particular, it is designed to anticipate problems on three core aspects:

  • Systems during a sudden surge in usage
  • Location during an area-specific event, such as a hurricane
  • People during an event that affects users, such as COVID-19

To address problems in these aspects, Microsoft implements what is called an Active/Active Design. This means that the system uses multiple instances in response to user request or input. These instances run in different datacenters, which means that an event that affects one cannot affect the others. This enables the system to isolate problems and resolve them without affecting performance.

Microsoft Teams offers a great opportunity for companies to remain productive in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to get started or understand how you can take full advantage of its functionalities, just give us a call.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE