Written by Rob Young, Director – 16th May 2018
With more and more businesses adopting a flexible working policy or using contractors, the number of remote workers across the world increases daily and it’s been predicted that half of the UK workforce will be working remotely or flexibly by 2020 as emails, documents and software are now accessible from anywhere.
While working remotely has its benefits for businesses who have several locations, large workforces and departments, including reducing overheads, more productivity, lowered stress levels and boosted morale for employees but this flexible some businesses are concerned that their teams may not be able to collaborate on projects effectively.
What’s the solution for effective teamwork?
Seeing as it’s proved teamwork is five times more likely to be high performing. (Source: Microsoft 2017). Microsoft Teams was designed to improve teamwork and boost collaboration and since its launch, Microsoft Teams is now used by over 120,000 businesses worldwide who use the platform to make their internal and client business projects run smoothly. Teams is also cloud-based, so can be accessed anywhere via the desktop or mobile application and is supported on Windows and Mac, as well as iOS and Android.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams, included as standard in Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E3 or E5 subscriptions is the complete collaboration tool enabling both office based and remote staff to collaborate with individuals or designated groups of employees within online workspaces within the Microsoft Teams application.
Teams is cloud based, so can be accessed anywhere via the desktop or mobile application on both iOS and Android.
What are the business benefits of Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Application integration
Microsoft Teams is fully integrated to Microsoft Office 365, and combines chat, meetings, notes and attachments which allows businesses to seamlessly interact with each other wherever they are; assets such as calendars, files and email can all be shared too.
This includes the classic Microsoft tools such as Word, Excel, Skype for Business and PowerPoint. And it also incorporates newer tools such as SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, Delve and Microsoft Graph. Microsoft Teams is always up-to-date, and the scalability of Teams means that it’s easy to add users as your business grows.
Meeting and scheduling tools
Teams syncs with your Office 365 calendar and pulls in all existing appointments, it also displays suggested times when all the other attendee’s within each dedicated Team are free and gives you the option to choose if the meeting is private or anyone can join in. This is a particularly useful setting if you are hosting voluntary training or brainstorming.
Once you have created a meeting, both you and the attendees can post about the meeting in a separate chat thread, set agendas and upload relevant documents.
You can also schedule and join meetings using Skype for Business with HD video, VOIP and additional dial in audio options including useful integration with a wide range of meeting room devices for one-to-many businesses with up to 10,000 attendees whether they are internal or external.
Below is a useful video showing the meeting and scheduling capabilities within Teams.
Outstanding user enablement via 20 Bots
To promote adoption of Teams within the workplace, Microsoft has programmed 20 useful Bots that are very similar to virtual chat agents.
These help users of Microsoft Teams get a wide range of tasks done in the most efficient way. The 20 bots operate on artificial Intelligence each with specialist knowledge bases. T-Bot can answer frequently asked user questions regarding Teams, Polly Bot can help with voting/polling with colleagues, Hipmunk can help arrange your travel plans if you need to get a meeting or fly abroad and Stats Bot can generate scheduled reports from many platforms including Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Google Analytics. Below is a picture of both Polly Bot and T-bot in use.
Teams Developer Platform
If you require a specific integration within Microsoft Teams such as a useful business process or social media applications, these can be easily implemented within the Teams Developer Platform using open APIs.
Real-time document collaboration
You can co-author and edit Microsoft Office documents within teams at the same time as other users, and pin the most important documents within each workspace for quick reference by other Team members.
View likes, @ mentions and messages quickly and easily in the Activity and Chat panes, you can also use the filters to view anything else that might be relevant to you in the conversations. By keeping all notifications within the Teams platform your email inbox does not get bombarded and risk you overseeing or deleting important emails by mistake.
Users login to Teams the same way they login to Office 365, using multi factor authentication and secure guest access.
As for the security of the data stored within Teams, there is built in information protection and the Microsoft Teams app is served by Microsoft’s Hyper Scale Cloud which includes the option for local data residency if required. Eg for industries where the data must remain within the same country.
Microsoft Teams and all the other Office 365 tools meet the compliance standards of HIPAA BAA, ISO 27001, ISO 27018 and SSAE 16 SOC 1 and 2 report. Users also login the same way they would to Office 365, using multi-factor authentication and secure guest access.
Below is a great overview video of Microsoft Teams.
If you are an Office 365 Enterprise E3 or E5 subscriber, you automatically have access to Microsoft Teams as part of your standard subscription.