What Is Microsoft Teams?| Should We Be Using It As Collab Tool?

In today’s dynamic and swiftly changing world, virtual communication and collaboration platforms have become immensely important as global companies mark a smooth transition to a virtual platform to conduct meetings, allocate work, and complete tasks.

With the right technology and tools, corporations and employees can seamlessly organize and execute tasks in a flexible, online environment. Today, numerous collaboration tools and applications offer consumers affordable plans to move the workplace online through a simple and effective interface. 

Among such tools, Microsoft Teams stands out due to its sleek design interface and a means to boost employee engagement, galvanize productivity, and adapt flexibly to the virtual collaborative environment.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a business-oriented platform for communication and collaboration, which offers numerous tools for smooth and integrated work experience.

What is Microsoft Teams

The unique interface of Microsoft Teams amalgamates workplace chat, storage, video channels for a meeting, and application integration. Marketed as an ‘all-in-one solution,’ Microsoft Teams was announced as a service on March 14, 2017. 

It provides an efficient platform that is well-integrated with Microsoft’s Office 265 subscription service and has extension features that can connect with non-Microsoft products and services. This collaborative software provides the best tools for extensive connection and collaboration between remote locations, multiple devices. 

It is a means for reducing costs for organizations while providing a flexible alternative. Teams also provide a way for switching between a multitude of communication methods such as live document editing and collaboration, sharing files and documents across platforms, video calling, and conference calls through one single, efficient platform. 

The chat-based communicative platform is a unique team-space that acts as a nucleus for smooth creative decision-making and departmental communication regardless of the number of participants and team members. 

Be it a platform for companies or educational institutions, Microsoft Teams offers several unique features to enhance its video-calling and file-sharing interface, such as customization for backgrounds, screen-sharing. It is available in 53 languages and 181 markets across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

5 Main Components Of Teams

The stunning and sleek interface of Microsoft Teams is built by five main features and components that deliver the best communication and collaboration tools in a simplistic and easily-accessible umbrella application.

Teams

Central to Microsoft Teams is the platform’s Team feature. The Team is a special tab that consists of a collection of people in one particular section with various tools and features at their disposal. 

Depending on the specific type of project or group, teams can be populated with content, files, videos, or used for announcements. It can be used for creative groups, working groups in office or school classrooms. 

You can build teams entirely from scratch or by relaying members and teams from an Office 365 group or team. Equipped with a template, Teams make it immensely simple and easy to build one from settings through the Create icon. 

It can be either private and for only a select few invited users, or public and accessible and discoverable by the whole organization and/or classroom.

Teams

Channel

Another feature of Teams is the Channel. Channels are specific areas where one can carry out conversations with other members of the ‘Team’ about any particular topic or work issue. 

It acts as a communication tool that can even be allocated for different departments in an organization. Channels allow for tagging and organizing conversations regarding a specific stream under its relevant sub-group and are wonderful for larger teams and workgroups. 

In channels, team members can partake in discussions, attach files and videos, and work together on any project smoothly and efficiently.

Channels

 

Channel Tabs

Channel tabs are an interesting Microsoft Teams feature that will allow users to access content in a specified space in a channel or a chat. This provides collaboration over shared data and content. 

Tabs can be added to channels by owners and team members to easily access the content they need and interact with it collaboratively.

Two tabs come with each channel by default. One is titled “Files” while the other has a heading of “Conversation.” 

You can easily add more tabs to the channel by clicking on a plus sign that says “Add a tab” at the top. All existing files can be converted into a tab through a simple click. 

Similarly, you can add websites as tabs by adding the URL. Creating custom tabs is very easy, and whenever a user wants to add a tab, they are guided by built-in instructions.

Channel Tabs

 

Activity Feed

The feed is another feature of Microsoft Teams, allowing simplistic collaboration and communication methods for an organization. 

Accessed by the Activity icon, the Activity Feed is a brief summary of all new messages and activities that have happened in the channels in your Teams list. 

These streams of messages can easily be filtered for any specific messages or mentions and replies. Notifications for new postings, file sharing, and calls are also available and alerted through the Activity Feed.  

Activity

 

Chat

Apart from its stunning collaboration and file-sharing tools and threads, Microsoft Teams is also built with an excellent communication interface through the chats tab. 

Chats can range from one-on-one conversations or a group chat with multiple participants for any specific task group or working group. 

New chats can be created simply by clicking on the New Chat + option and can consist of as many Team members as one requires. Chat messages can be formatted by italics, bold, and underline options for texts.

Chat

 

How good is Microsoft Teams as a collaboration Tool?

Microsoft Teams provides an excellent platform for collaboration between team members and colleagues by giving instant and smooth access to apps, documents, files, and tools such as video calling and conference calls. 

Multiple tabs can be added to sharing files, organizing team members, and collaborating with other members in real-time documents and work. 

Teams provide a comfortable and accessible interface that allows for keeping all essential features of Office 365 together by providing instant access and links to attaching Office apps such as Word, Excel, and cloud storage and sharing options.

All in all, Teams is an excellent addition for schools and workplace organizations looking for an integrated and standardized platform to allow for different streams to work together but in relevant tabs and channels. 

With real-time file-editing and features for online meetings that can host up to 10,000 users, Teams is ideal for collaboration. 

The chat functions and document storage options in Teams, as well as the integrated video calling and screen sharing features, allow for more excellent connectivity in the online sphere. 

Moreover, audio conferencing features allow for hosting online meetings. Anyone can join through the phone with no internet requirements.

Who can use Microsoft Teams?

Anyone who has an Office 365 account with the appropriate Microsoft 265 license plan can access Microsoft Teams. 

Microsoft Teams can be accessed via all Office 365 A1 suite licensing: Office 365 A1, Office 365 A1 Plus, and Office 365 A5, including the existing Office 365 A3 customers who purchased E3 before its retirement. 

Any person with a business or a consumer email account such as Outlook, Gmail, and others can join Teams as a guest and enjoy complete access to Team chats and meetings and shared content, including files and videos through the Microsoft Teams free version.

How much does it cost?

Microsoft Teams’ free version is available as part of the Microsoft Office 3665 subscription package. 

However, those looking for more features and full services can also join the premium plans for Teams that begin at $5/user/month subject to an ‘annual commitment’ requirement. 

Consumers who do not have access to the Teams license as part of an Office 365 account subscription can also choose to sign up for the free one-year trial.

Conclusion

Microsoft Teams is a welcome addition to the world of virtual communication and collaborations through one singular and sleek platform. 

With its highly accessible nature and affordable plans, Microsoft Teams can be used by schools, workplaces, and other organizations to establish greater communication channels. 

It also acts as a one-stop platform for calls, file-sharing, messaging threads, and content organization and division in a virtual setting. 

Teams are easily-learned and provide a simplistic interface for all users looking to explore its many collaboration features within their teams and beyond.

 The best part about this unique collaboration tool is how easily guests or employees can access it in an organization as it is linked to the same Office 365 stream of resources.

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