Top 5 benefits of Microsoft Teams for distributed work

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If your organization is working remotely and hasn’t deployed Teams yet, what are you waiting for? Here are 5 key benefits of using Microsoft Teams for distributed work!

As explored in our new benchmark report, State of Microsoft 365: Migration, Modernization, and Security in 2021, productivity tools like Microsoft Teams have become integral to how we work. When COVID-19 forced a global shift to remote work, Teams saw meteoric growth with over 115 million daily active users by October 2020—a 475% increase since November 2019. In a single day in March, a stunning 2.7 billion meeting minutes were recorded.

Users’ needs continue to evolve alongside that growth, and Microsoft has added a host of Teams features to address them. In this roundup, we highlight some key benefits of Microsoft Teams for distributed work / cloud-first strategy including new capabilities you can leverage for greater agility, collaboration, and productivity.

Top 5 benefits of using Microsoft Teams for distributed work:

  1. Teams streamlines work and saves time

    As Microsoft’s “hub for teamwork”, Microsoft Teams brings together chat, calls, meetings, Microsoft 365 apps, and third-party tools in one centralized location.

  2. Teams hosts more effective video meetings

    Videoconferencing has become a mainstay of life during the pandemic, and improved video meetings are one of the many benefits of Microsoft Teams for distributed work.

  3. Teams helps you collaborate seamlessly

    Leveraging Microsoft Teams collaboration capabilities enables you to move beyond transactional messages and meetings and focus on the flow of work.

  4. Teams makes conversations and connections more meaningful

    People in a distributed workforce still crave human connection. A host of new Microsoft Teams features make interactions more natural, engaging, and fun.

  5. Teams keeps everyone informed

    Now more than ever, it’s vital for businesses to keep employees informed and on the same page—wherever they work. Integrated Teams apps help you communicate more effectively with employees.



1. Teams streamlines work and saves time

One of the top benefits of Microsoft Teams can be found right in its name. The app is a “hub for teamwork,” as Microsoft describes it, “that brings together chat, meetings, calling, Office 365 apps, and third-party tools, all in one place.”

By tying together many Microsoft 365 tools in one centralized place, Teams surfaces and leverages functionalities that helps a distributed team work together better.

Related: Groups vs. Teams vs. SharePoint explained

Streamlined file sharing

Microsoft has revamped the file sharing experience in Teams, which benefits both employees who seek to collaborate with minimal friction and IT organizations that want to maintain data security. This feature enables users to create “a shareable link for any file stored in Teams and directly set the appropriate permissions.” 

When sharing a file from within Teams, users can provide access to people both within and outside an organization. They’ll be alerted if recipients don’t have permission to view the file and can change the permissions accordingly.

Remember that sharing files and folders in Teams is based on the settings configured in SharePoint and OneDrive (where those files and folders are actually stored), so the way you configure sharing for SharePoint and OneDrive will affect sharing in Teams as well.

History menu

Context switching, as we all know, is a productivity killer. Herein lies another key benefit of Teams. By packaging powerful Microsoft 365 tools together through one interface, Teams reduces the need to jump between apps, tasks, and projects.

The new History menu for Teams desktop clients builds on this functionality by enabling users to quickly return to places they’ve recently visited, including “activities, channels, conversations, tabs, files, apps, and just about everywhere else you can go in Teams.”

Screenshot of History menu in Teams.

Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/use-history-to-revisit-where-you-ve-been-in-teams-7a89a0e5-9d4a-41a0-8c29-1f218b2fec9e?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US&storagetype=live

Microsoft Teams displays

Introduced in August 2020, Microsoft Teams displays is a new category of Teams-dedicated devices. Featuring an all-in-one touchscreen device and powered by Cortana, Teams displays are designed to seamlessly integrate with your PC.

All Teams-related alerts, messages, calls, and meetings are channeled to the device, freeing up your desktop or laptop to focus on the work at hand.

Take your understanding further: Microsoft Teams Channels best practices

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More new features

Other improved Teams experiences include a larger gallery view (which lets you see up to 49 video streams at once), meeting controls docked at the top of the screen for easier access, and moving the Meeting notes to a tab in the main Teams window. 

Screenshot of larger gallery view in Teams.

Source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/new-meeting-and-calling-experience-in-microsoft-teams/ba-p/1537581


2. Teams hosts more effective video meetings

Improved video meetings are one of the many benefits of Microsoft Teams for distributed work. As video conferencing became a mainstay of life during the pandemic, Microsoft released a series of Teams enhancements to make meetings more efficient and intuitive.

Automatic noise suppression

Background noise is a familiar nuisance, whether you’re working from home or in a shared office space. Users can now remove unwelcome background noise during Teams calls and meetings by enabling an AI-based noise suppression option.

End-of-meeting notifications

These automatic alerts tell participants when five minutes are remaining in a meeting, so they know it’s time to start wrapping up. The notifications remain on screen for 10 seconds before disappearing and are triggered for all scheduled private or channel meetings.

Meeting join launcher

The improved meeting join launcher experience provides clearer options when users launch a Teams meeting. When clicking on a meeting link, users are prompted to join the meeting online, download the Teams client, or join with the native Teams client.

Screenshot of improved join launcher experience in Teams.

Source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/what-s-new-in-microsoft-teams-may-2020/ba-p/1423015


3. Teams helps you collaborate seamlessly

While many companies adopted Teams pre-pandemic as a tool for messages and meetings, we all know that the benefits of Microsoft Teams extend far beyond this. The key to leveraging its collaboration capabilities, says Microsoft, is “to move beyond transactional meetings and focus on the flow of work.”

The following new features help users accomplish this.

Tagging

Users can now create and manage tags to reach the right people faster in Teams chats and channel conversations. The tagging capability allows you to organize and categorize people in Teams based on attributes such as role, project, skill, expertise, or location.

Screenshot of user creating a new tag in Teams.

Source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/reach-the-right-people-faster-with-tags-in-microsoft-teams/ba-p/1302986

Shareable calendars

One of the most popular requests by Teams users, the new shared calendar app allows you to create and share a calendar with members of a specific Teams channel. Whenever you schedule a new meeting, a notification is posted in the channel’s activity feed, and users can then add the event to their personal calendars.

Approvals in Teams

The new Approvals feature allows you to create, share, and manage approvals directly from Teams. From client agreements to expense reports, send a new item for approval from a Teams chat, a channel conversation, or the dedicated Approvals app. The Approvals app tracks all previous and pending approval requests, including their status, source, requester, and approvers.

Offline autosend

Whether working from home, in an office, or on the road, this new capability enables users to stay productive even without an active internet connection. When a user is offline, their Teams messages are queued on their local device and automatically sent once the device is back online.


4. Teams makes conversations and connections more meaningful

Despite all the technological power at their fingertips, a distributed workforce is still composed of real people who crave human connection. Among the top benefits of Microsoft Teams are a host of new features to make Teams interactions more natural, engaging, and fun. 

Breakout rooms

What was once a tedious task for meeting organizers has been made easier. With breakout rooms, meeting hosts can organize participants into smaller groups for discussion, conversation, and brainstorming. After assigning attendees to separate breakout rooms, meeting organizers can join any of the sessions and then call attendees back to the main group when the breakout is over.

Live reactions

Clear communication is already a challenge in the workplace, and virtual meetings can make it harder as team members struggle to read one another’s nonverbal cues and body language on a computer screen. With the live reactions feature, participants can better express themselves in meetings by choosing from four options: like, love, applause, and laugh.

Screenshot of live reactions feature in Teams.

Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/express-yourself-in-teams-meetings-with-live-reactions-a8323a40-3d07-4129-934b-305370a36e21

Together mode

Launched in July 2020 at the height of the pandemic, Together mode “reimagines meeting experiences to help participants feel closer together even when you are apart.”

Together mode unites meeting participants in a visually appealing virtual space, such as a conference room or an outdoor theater, rather than separate boxes. “The design offers unique benefits: less fatigue from frequent video meetings, a better sense of connection with others, and more effective meetings.”


5. One of the top benefits of Microsoft Teams: It keeps everyone informed

Now more than ever, it is vital for businesses to keep employees informed and on the same page—wherever they work. Built on the Power Platform, two new apps for Microsoft Teams help companies communicate more effectively with employees.

Bulletins

Designed for company communications, the Bulletins app can be easily integrated within and pinned to Teams. Bulletins provides a space where managers can post memos, announcements, and other company news, including images and videos. The app is optimized for mobile devices, so employees never miss important alerts or updates.

Screenshot of Bulletins app in Teams.

Source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/track-projects-and-share-news-in-teams-with-two-new-power-apps/ba-p/2118479

Milestones

Streamlining project management for cross-functional teams, the Milestones app is a central place to plan, track, and update the progress of work items. Users can track tasks by owners and status or view updates in the activity log. The productivity app’s dashboard also provides a 360-degree view of an entire project.


Read the full report

Flexible, distributed work is here to stay. In fact, 70% of the IT professionals we surveyed for our benchmark report expect the majority of their workforce to continue working remotely through 2021. In this new world of work, leveraging the full capabilities of Microsoft 365 and Teams is more critical than ever.

Sign up to read the full report, State of Microsoft 365: Migration, Modernization, and Security in 2021, to get data-backed insights and expert recommendations to better leverage Microsoft for your business. The report also outlines what makes for a successful, scalable, and secure distributed workplace—now and for the future.

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