How to use Microsoft Teams part 3: Bots, chat, files, meetings, and activity feed

Image of turquoise background with illustrated Teams icons and stars Image of turquoise background with illustrated Teams icons and stars

Microsoft MVP Jasper Oosterveld on Microsoft Teams bots, chat, files, and meetings—and how the activity feed differentiates Teams from Skype.

ShareGate's easy-to-use SaaS tools enable organizations to achieve more than ever before with Microsoft cloud technologies. In this four-part series, Jasper Oosterveld brings you up to speed on Microsoft Teams.

Welcome back to the series on how to become a Microsoft Teams rockstar! The first two parts are all wrapped up, and we are ready to jump into the next installment!

Are you ready? I know I am!

Want to learn Microsoft Teams best practices from the pros? Our latest eBook, Win as a Team!, is full of MVP insights and tips, and is available for download with no info required.

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Teams can be your favorite tool.

(But, don’t take our word for it)


Microsoft Teams bots

Bots are your friends.

They’re designed to make our lives easier and support us in our day-to-day work. Microsoft Teams integrates the Microsoft Bot Framework—which enables developers to design bots of their own.

Need a bots refresher? Brush up on best practices and how to use bots in Teams.

You can view all of the available bots within Teams by clicking on More options, then selecting More apps:

List of available bots

After clicking on More apps, an overview of all available bots appears:

Click on More apps for an overview of available bots

The selection of bots you can choose from has grown significantly since the launch of Teams. I won’t go into too much detail about all the different kinds simply because there are so many—but I would advise finding a bot that fits your current needs and testing it out.

Microsoft includes its own bot—a personal assistant app called Who. Powered by the Microsoft Graph, Who lets you search for people in your organization by name or topic.

You can ask it a variety of questions by typing in the start of simple phrases:

Type in the beginning of a question for WhoBot

For example, you can easily find the manager of one of your colleagues:

It's easy to find the manager of a colleague

WhoBot can also provide a dynamic organization chart:

WhoBot provides a dynamic organization chart

Or a list of your upcoming meetings:

View a list of upcoming meetings

Who has huge potential when it comes to connecting and finding people. That being said, Microsoft hasn’t released any updates for a while, and it’s still only on version 0.2.

Microsoft Teams activity feed

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Automated governance to make Teams everyone’s favorite tool.

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The activity feed—accessed by clicking on the Activity tab in your left sidebar—displays all of your colleagues’ activities across the teams, channels, chats, and apps that you have access to.

You can also send personal chat messages into the feed that work as preview cards summarizing your app’s activity.

Messages inserted into a channel create notifications that appear in the activity feed. That, in turn, generates alerts on desktop and mobile apps, and encourages higher levels of engagement.


Microsoft Teams chat

Chat within Teams is very similar to Skype for Business. You can exchange audio calls, video calls, and text chats with one or more colleagues. In my eyes, Teams really surpasses Skype for Business with the following features:

Fun chat

Who doesn’t like to have fun while chatting? I know I do! That’s where Teams comes in.

While they are in no way mandatory, you can use emoticons, GIFs, stickers, and memes to lighten up the chat room, so to speak.

Shared files

File sharing through chat in Microsoft Teams is great! That’s because all of your team’s files are stored in one place—the Files tab:

All your team's files stored in the Files tab

At any moment in time, I can go back to my chat with Patty and view our shared files. Awesome, right? You’re probably wondering where the files are actually stored. Well, look no further:

Shared files stored in OneDrive for Business

Any files I share with Patty are stored in my OneDrive for Business, and vice versa.

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business: Which tool should you use?

The big question that comes to mind is probably:

"How do I know whether to use Teams or Skype for Business to chat?"

The services can certainly coexist and interact with each other within your organization—you can learn more about their interoperability by reading the official Microsoft documentation.

However, you should know that Microsoft announced they'd be "retiring" Skype for Business Online on July 31, 2021. As of September 2019, all new Office 365 customers are onboarded directly to Microsoft Teams—the new default for chats, calls, and meetings. Microsoft did release this useful roadmap about the transfer of Skype for Business capabilities to Teams.

I’d recommend moving your organization’s digital collaboration and communication to Teams whenever possible.

Microsoft Teams meetings

You also have the option to view your calendar within the Teams app:

View calendar in Teams

But it’s really nothing special, right? What I do love is the option to create a meeting for all the members of your team:

Book meetings directly in Teams

The scheduled meeting appears in the channel:

Meeting appears in Teams channel

All the members are now aware of the meeting, and can add it to their own calendar.

Microsoft Teams files

Last up is the Files tab. It’s pretty straightforward—you can view all of your, and your teams’/channels’, recent files and downloads.

You can also now add a cloud storage service to Teams, including:

  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • ShareFile
  • Google Drive

Simply click Files on the left side of the app, then select Add cloud storage and choose your cloud storage service from the list.

I love that this new feature lets you integrate even more third party services and tools. You’ve got to hand it to Microsoft—they recognize that the main goal is getting the job done, regardless of which tools you choose to use.


Conclusion

I hope this article helped convince you that Teams is a day-to-day work tool you can really rely on. Aside from collaboration within teams and projects, you can chat with colleagues, view your agenda, and share files from cloud storage.

Microsoft Teams brings together all the benefits of Office 365 services and tools in one application. That’s a big part of why I think Teams is so great and encourage everyone to embrace this modern workplace tool!

Stay tuned for the final part in this series—rock on!


Next article in the series

Guide to Becoming a Microsoft Teams Rockstar - Part 4

Want to read more articles from Jasper? Start here:

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