Updated on June 12, 2019.
Welcome back to the series on how to become a Microsoft Teams rockstar! Parts 1 and 2 are all wrapped up, and we are ready to jump into the next installment—an in-depth look at how to leverage bots, as well as the Activity, Chat, Meetings, and Files tabs.
Are you ready? I know I am!
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.
You can view all of the available bots within Teams by clicking on More options, then selecting More apps:
After clicking on More apps, an overview of all available bots appears:
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:
For example, you can easily find the manager of one of your colleagues:
WhoBot can also provide a dynamic organization chart:
Or a list of your 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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
Any files I share with Patty are stored in my OneDrive for Business, and vice versa.
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 is in the process of phasing out Skype for Business in favor of Teams as the core communications tool for Office 365.
There’s no hard deadline yet for when the switch has to be made, but 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.
You also have the option to view your calendar within the Teams app:
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:
The scheduled meeting appears in the channel:
All the members are now aware of the meeting, and can add it to their own calendar.
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:
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.
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!