About the Author
Christian Buckley

Christian Buckley

Get More Done In Microsoft Teams

For years, I’ve been doing monthly webinars with my friend Tom Duff where we cover 10 new Office 365 productivity tips.

It has gotten a tremendous response and its not hard to see why. We’re spending more of our day in Microsoft 365 and using Microsoft Teams. At the same time, Microsoft is releasing new features at an unprecedented rate.

In the Q3 2021 earnings call Satya Nadella reported, “We are accelerating our innovation, adding over 300 features over the past year, including more than 100 new capabilities so far in 2021.”

I’ve combed through this deluge of awesome functionality and battle tested many of these capabilities to distill down to my top 20 Microsoft Teams productivity tips.

These Microsoft Teams tips and tricks span from the basic (for those just starting to learn how to use Microsoft Teams) to the advanced, but all are practical and all have saved me considerable amount of time as I communicate and do business in Microsoft Teams.

I hope you find these helpful. If you have other great productivity tips, reach out to me on Twitter @buckleyplanet.

Want to know more about Teams Management & Governance?

AvePoint has you covered! ! It’s important to properly govern the provisioning and lifecycle of your Teams. Learn the right way to manage Teams with our, When to Use and How To Manage Teams and Office 365 Groups ebook. Or learn more about our Cloud Governance solution.

eBook Tablet atBot

TIP 1

Leverage the Full Potential of Tabs

What

“Tabs allow team members to access services and content in a dedicated space within a channel or in a chat. This lets the team work directly with tools and data, and have conversations about the tools and data, all within the context of the channel or chat.”

Why

Tabs are one of the most basic, and yet powerful new features of Microsoft Teams, giving you the ability create tabs for every tool, spreadsheet, video, or website that is essential to your project or team. Tabs make Teams the “hub” for your work.

How

At the top of your Teams workspace, select the + to add a new Tab and select from the many available options. Click ‘Save’ to add the tab.

Leverage the Full Potential of Tabs

TIP 2

Reorganize Your Teams and Channels

What

When using Microsoft Teams, you can drag and drop Teams into any order, pin important channels (you can also drag and drop them), and hide teams to clean up your navigation view

Why

If you are creating or being added to dozens of Teams, the navigation can quickly become crowded. A great Microsoft Teams tip is to regularly sort through active and inactive Teams and channels, keeping the most important up top for easier navigation, and hiding or archiving Teams that are no longer active

How

To change the order of Teams, simply drag and drop into your preferred order. Likewise, you can drag and drop a channel to your Pinned folder, or right click on a channel and select ‘Pin’. For Teams that are still active but where your role is limited, you can click on the ellipsis (…) next to the Team and select ‘Hide’ to move it to your Hidden Teams folder.

Reorganize Your Teams and Channels

BONUS TIP

Reorganize Your Teams + Channels for Your Org

What

There isn’t a great way using native functionality to reorganize Teams, channels and private channels to improve how your collaboration is organized. Using a third-party migration tool like AvePoint Fly can help you reorganize your Teams information architecture to maximize productivity.

Why

The way that you use Microsoft Teams may have drastically changed. Or, perhaps you’ve experienced M&A, divestitures and other organizational shifts that can lead to things being in the wrong place. You could have “bottom heavy” Teams with channels that might be better as separate Teams or “top heavy” Teams where a Team might work better as a private channel under another. Or your naming conventions might simply be a mess.

Reorganize Your Teams + Channels for Your Org
How

Communicate with your Team owners to fully understand how each is used and its importance. Focus on the end user experience and how the future structure will relate back to the implementation- what processes will interact with which Teams, how associated information will be stored, secured and then archived or deleted when it’s no longer essential. Use a third-party tool that will preserve as much Teams data fidelity as possible to pilot and then execute your migration.

TIP 3

Set Your Status Duration

What

Users can set the duration of their status rather than rely on the default settings

Why

The defaults of 5 minutes may not be your preferred duration before Teams automatically changes you from Busy to Away. This little Microsoft Teams hack now allows you to control the duration.

How

Click the Profile image in the upper-right corner, and then click on the Status arrow to see the Duration options of 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, Today, This Week, or set a Custom timeframe.

Set Your Status Duration

TIP 4

Create Tabs in Chats

What

With every private chat, four tabs are provisioned by default: Conversations, Files, Organization, and Activity. Users have the ability to add additional tabs that can only be seen by chat members

Why

For ongoing private chats (e.g. manager and direct report) you may have tools and data on which you collaborate regularly. As with tabs in channels, you can use tabs in chats to surface important data and tools.

How

Select the target chat, and at the top of the workspace, click on the + to add a new tab.

Create Tabs in Chats

TIP 5

Bookmark Important Conversations

What

Bookmarking saves threaded discussions to your profile so that you can keep track of important conversations.

Why

One of the most frustrating aspects of the proliferation of conversations, teams, channels, projects, documents, meetings and more is navigating them. Bookmarks help you to organize your conversations.

How

From the ellipsis (…) on any conversational post, select ‘Save This Message’ to add the bookmark. To see your bookmarks, click on your profile image and select ‘Saved’. The saved messages will appear on the left. Click on the saved icon to remove your bookmark.

Bookmark Important Conversations

TIP 6

Redirect Email Conversations to Channels

What

You can send an email to a channel in Teams using the channel email address. Once an email is part of a channel, anyone can reply to it to start a conversation.

Why

Sometimes you may want to redirect an important email thread to Teams so that everyone on the project team can see and participate in the discussion.

How

Within the target channel, click on the ellipsis (…) and select ‘Get Email Address’. Copy the email address, and paste into your forwarded message.

Redirect Email Conversations to Channels

TIP 7

Clean Up Your Hypertext Links

What

Using a keyboard shortcut, you can clean up lengthy hypertext links to keep your channel posts short and organized, adding as link to selected text.

Why

Nobody likes lengthy links (especially those generated by SharePoint or OneDrive!).

How

Highlight the words you wish to link and press CTRL-K, which opens a dialog box. Enter your lengthy URL and click Insert.

Clean Up Your Hypertext Links

TIP 8

Leverage the Mobile App
(Especially with Multiple Domains)

What

The Teams mobile app is a quick and easy way to stay on top of important conversations across multiple channels, Teams, and even domains whether you’re in front of your primary machine or working remotely from your phone.

Why

Information Workers are becoming more and more comfortable with reading content from their mobile devices. The Teams mobile interface makes it easy to see notifications and move between conversations. Additionally, the mobile app can seamlessly move between domains – something the desktop app still struggles with.

How

Download the mobile app from your favorite app store, and add relevant login details. To move between domains, simply click on your profile, and then select the domain.

Clean Up Your Hypertext Links

TIP 9

Sync Files to Your Desktop

What

Using the Teams integration with OneDrive, you can quickly synchronize files and folders with your local computer.

Why

If you are frequently opening certain files, or have a very active project and want to reduce clicks to get to key content, you can create a sync between your target files and your local computer to streamline your access.

How

Go into the Files within your target channel and select ‘Sync’ from the top menu. Teams will prepare the link to OneDrive, and then add a quick access folder to your desktop.

Sync Files to Your Desktop

TIP 10

Pin Important Apps to the Left Rail

What

Keep your most-used apps right organized and easily accessible by adding them to the left rail in Teams.

Why

As Teams truly becomes the hub for teamwork, you might find yourself constantly toggling between key apps and tools, such as Yammer or Lists or Tasks. Rather than navigating down into your Teams and channels to access these apps, just pin them!

How

Using the ellipsis (…) on the left rail, find the relevant app in the most recent used or through search, and right click on the app icon to pin the app to the left rail. To un-pin, simply right-click on the app icon and select ‘Unpin’.

Pin Important Apps to the Left Rail

TIP 11

Use the Channel Cross-Posting

What

Cross-posting an announcement or information allows you to share information across multiple channels and Teams at once.

Why

Sometimes you have content or a message to share across more than one channel in a Team – or across multiple Teams. Rather than manually add your content into channels one-by-one, you can create once, and post in multiple locations.

How

Open a new conversation in a relevant channel, select the Compose option to craft your message, and then click on ‘Post in Multiple Channels’. A “To” field will be added to your post and a ‘Select Channels’ button will appear.

Use the Channel Cross-Posting

TIP 12

Use Natural Language Search with 12 Cortana in the Mobile App

What

“Microsoft Search in Teams and Office mobile is adding support for natural language queries in English in the U.S. With Teams mobile, you will be able to type phrases in the search box or tap on the mic to ask Cortana to find messages, chats, meetings, people, files, and links bookmarked by administrators in a way that covers keywords as well as a range of time in Teams.

In addition, you will also be able to ask Cortana to look for messages or chats from a particular person, topic, or across a range of time.”

Why

Some people are less adept at typing with their thumbs while driving. Cortana can save you time (and possibly your life!)

How

Available now in the US, this feature will be rolled out to other regions over the course of 2021. To use, simply click on the microphone icon next to search.

Use Natural Language Search with 12
            Cortana in the Mobile App

TIP 13

Microsoft Lens in Teams Chat

What

The new Microsoft Lens will enable the integration of short video bites in Teams Chat. With Microsoft Lens built into Teams, you will be able to record a short video, annotate it with text, emojis, do basic editing, and add live filters.

Why

In real-time, you will be able to add your thoughts about what you’re capturing with video from Teams and share it immediately with your colleagues.

How

Rolling out now

Microsoft Lens in Teams Chat

TIP 14

Create Tags for Groups of Users

What

With tags, you can categorize people based on attributes, such as role, project, skill, training, or location and essentially create distribution groups in Teams.

Why

For some topics or projects, you may find yourself repeatedly notifying the same group of people each time there is an update. Instead, create a tab for the project with all relevant stakeholders, allowing you to @mention the group in one simple step.

How

Find the relevant Team on the left, and select the ellipsis (…) and choose ‘Manage Tags’. A dialog box will open allowing you to create a name a tag, and add members.

Create Tags for Groups of Users

TIP 15

Create Teams Templates

What

“A custom team template is a predefined team structure with a set of channels, tabs, and apps. You can develop a template that helps you create the right collaboration space quickly. Your custom team template uses your preferred settings.”

Why

As an admin, you may want to ensure that all Teams include standard channels, tabs and apps so that collaboration is consistent.

How

Log into the Teams admin center, select ‘Teams Templates’ from the left and ‘Add’ from the top menu. In the Teams templates section, select ‘Create a Brand New Template’ and add the name, description, visibility, channels, tabs and apps, and then click on ‘Submit’.

Create Teams Templates

BONUS TIP

Add Governance Settings to Team Templates

What

Team templates are great but they also have limitations. Using a Teams template wont transfer content or membership. In addition, any type of policy (ie Team owners cannot create a SharePoint sub-site) cannot be included in a Team template. Finally, team templates are tenant wide so each department will see the others’ templates.

Using an automated governance tool like Cloud Governance can automate provisioning using pre-configured templates that include channel and tab setups but also membership and operational governance settings such as external sharing, expiration and more.

Add Governance Settings to Team Templates
Why

Each department collaborates in different ways at different levels of sensitivity. You can address those unique needs and enforce polciies without hampering the collaboration in other departments.

How

With Cloud Governance, users can navigate to an organizational app in Teams which presents a tailored catalogue of services that allow the creation of appropriate Microsoft 365 workspaces based on who the requestor is and what they need. The workspace is then automatically configured (and can be immediately provisioned or submitted for conditional approval) using the organization’s pre-determined governance policies.

TIP 16

Leverage the Shared OneNote

What

Take shared meeting notes, and then expand upon that OneNote content by adding real-time notes, images, and even video and audio recordings to the record.

Why

OneNote offers more than simple notetaking. Multiple people can annotate at the same time, as well as add audio and video recordings.

How

Assumes you have the Teams and OneNote add-ins for the Outlook desktop application. When creating a new calendar event from the Outlook desktop app, select both Teams meeting and OneNote as a shared resource. You can access the shared OneNote before, during, or after the meeting and sync it with your desktop and mobile device.

Leverage the Shared OneNote

TIP 17

Record and Transcribe Your Meetings

What

Set up Teams Meetings to record and transcribe by default. Providing an instantly searchable digital asset to your information management system.

Why

Meetings are an important information asset. By automatically recording your meetings by default, you can then use the native transcription capabilities in Stream to generate a searchable record of each meeting – or leverage this transcript to publish your meeting recording publicly, thus improving SEO for your shared content.

Record and Transcribe Your Meetings
How

An Admin can set a Stream policy to record and transcribe every Teams Meeting. If these are not turned on by default, the user can go into Stream and edit their recording, setting the default language and turning on live captions to start the transcription process, which will appear in the box to the right of the recording.

TIP 18

Transfer a Meeting to Another Device

What

Microsoft Teams allows you to start or join meetings on any device, and transfer between devices. As long as a meeting is still in progress, you can leave and join it again any time you want.

Why

Sometimes a meeting goes long, and you need to leave the office to your next appointment and want to transfer the meeting to your mobile device so that you can listen in as you drive.

How

Using your mobile device, go into the Calendar on the teams app and find the current meeting in progress, and click ‘Join’. The app will ask if you want to join (a second time) or transfer. Select ‘Transfer to the device’ and select your preferred audio and video options, and click ‘Transfer Now’. Your laptop connection will drop as you are transferred to your mobile device.

Transfer a Meeting to Another Device

TIP 19

Gather Feedback in Meetings with Polls

What

Meeting presenters can prepare polls in advance and launch the polls before, during, or after meetings that attendees can easily view and answer.

Why

Polls liven up an otherwise boring meeting, and help the presenter to gather important feedback.

How

Begin the process by adding the Polls app as a tab to your chat or meeting. As you prepare various polls to be launched during your meeting, you will see them as drafts within the tab. You can determine the order in which you publish each poll, or launch them all in rapid succession. Once you launch a poll, it shows as live in your Polls tab. By clicking View Results, you can track responses in real-time.

Gather Feedback in Meetings with Polls

TIP 20

Recap Your Meetings with Meeting Recap

What

Microsoft Teams can now provide a recap with the meeting recording, transcript, chat, and attached files being shared with participants in the meeting Chat tab and viewable in the Details tab.

Why

Those who missed the meeting, joined late, or want to revisit what was discussed can play the recording or review the transcripts respectively.

How

Meeting recap is now rolling out. To find the recap, go into your Teams calendar, click on a past event, and click again on the expand arrows to see a full view of the meeting details, recording, and shared notes.

Recap Your Meetings with Meeting Recap

Additional Resources​