Tips for Using Microsoft Teams

Update 1/19/2021: Microsoft still bundles Teams with many Microsoft 365 packages, so it’s effectively a free tool in many organizations’ remote work toolkits. Capacity increased to 300 participants and 50 breakout rooms in 2020. The “Settings” tab now shows a “Together Mode” that works if you’re meaning with more than four people. You can enable AI-based noise suppression to spare people’s ears from sounds of construction, traffic, and barking dogs. Polls are now available, too.

We’ve talked previously about Microsoft Teams, the reliable, secure platform for video, audio, and chat communication, as well as file sharing and collaboration. It’s still free with many Microsoft 365 packages, and Microsoft has no plans to change that, so it’s worth a try. Microsoft has been hard at work during the pandemic, making Teams easier to use. Here are some recent changes:

Coming Soon (now in testing):Up to 49 people per screenBreakout rooms

June 9, 2020

Access pinned chats and channels while offline.
Your most recent conversations, as well as your pinned chats and channels, are now available when working offline in Teams.

Customize your background – built-into Teams.
No longer are you limited by stock photos or 3rd-party add-ons.

June 5, 2020

Group chat size increased to 250.
More room for everyone, get a large group chat going with up to 250 participants.

Privacy for people joining meetings via phone.
To increase privacy for participants joining a Teams meeting by dialing in via phone, Teams now obscures your number from any participants that are outside your organization. Your number will still show for teammates in your org.

May 27, 2020

Meeting options button in Teams.
Once you send your online meeting invite, open your meeting options via the new button in Teams. Once you’ve sent your meeting invite, open the event and select Meeting options (at the top of the event). This will open a tab in your web browser where you can tweak your meeting settings, like lobby bypass and who can present.

Book appointments and online visits with Bookings.
The Bookings app in Teams offers a simple way to schedule virtual appointments, like healthcare visits, financial consultations, and educator office hours. Schedulers can manage multiple department and staff calendars, as well as communications with internal and external attendees, from a single experience. The virtual appointments themselves are held via Microsoft Teams Meetings.

Pop out a chat for multitasking.
Double-click a chat in your chat list, or select Pop out chat icon in Teams to open a chat in a secondary window. Now, you’re free to move about Teams while working in multiple chat conversations.

May 15, 2020

Raise your hand in a meeting.
Have a question or comment but don’t want to interrupt the person speaking? Let people know you have something to say with the new raise hand feature in Teams. While in a meeting, select the Raise your hand in your control bar. This will place a gold hand icon on your video feed to let the rest of the attendees know that you’d like to speak.

Roll call!
Meeting organizers can now take attendance during a meeting. To get your attendance report, select Show participants Show participants icon > Download attendee list. The report will download a CSV file that can be opened in Excel. The file will contain the name, join time, and leave time of meeting attendees.

May 13, 2020

Meetings are 3×3 on desktop.
You can now see up to nine faces at once, arranged in a less boxy pattern.