Catch up on our Q&A webinar about Using Microsoft Teams to Enable Remote Work.
With more than 200 attendees submitting more than 50 questions, our “Using Microsoft Teams to Enable Remote Work” webinar was one of our most popular virtual events.
In fact, the hosts—Office 365 Teamwork Lead Michael McNett, Microsoft Certified Senior Solutions Architect Veenus Maximuik, and People & Change lead Phil Swettenham—extended the webinar 15 minutes past its scheduled end time to keep answering questions.
In the age of the coronavirus, the need for information about Microsoft Teams is great, and the webinar offered something for everyone in its technically diverse audience. According to a poll posted at the beginning of the webinar, 60% of the participants were just getting started with Teams, 19% had widely deployed it, and 15% were using other Office 365 tools like Outlook, OneDrive and SharePoint. 6% were not yet using Teams.
After providing a quick overview of Teams, the hosts dove into key topics such as how to deploy Teams rapidly, how to drive employee adoption, and how to maintain company culture and engagement. During the Q&A session, attendees took the discussion even deeper by exploring issues affecting specific industries and more advanced Teams functions.
Have more questions? Email the hosts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is the transcript from the webinar. Please note: The answers have been slightly edited to make it reader-friendly, and may not exactly follow the broadcast.
Microsoft Teams Q&A
If you don’t have an Office 365 Tenant today, you can connect with a Microsoft certified partner to deploy an Office 365 trial, which includes Teams. Because of the coronavirus crisis, Microsoft is now providing the trial for free for six months. The free trial includes some of the most important features, including meet now—the ability to “ping” someone in real time to start an unscheduled one-off meeting—as well as video and audio calls. Your setup partner can also help you configure your Tenant so you can get started without worrying about what needs to be enabled or disabled.
Normally, we would recommend it to be much more intentional to include a lot more adoption and change management to include a deeper analysis of governance. But, in this case, don’t overthink it. If you want to support remote workers, get the bare minimum out there quickly.
That would require setting up your Tenants, your accounts, and the licenses that you want for all your different users. Then, after you have SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams, you can enable your chats and meetings. Some additional things that you could consider is audio conferencing.
You could also consider some possible security enhancements if required by your company.
But, every time you add these extra enhancements and automation, it slows down the process. What we recommend is a rapid two-day deployment that includes basic Tenants set up, your account set up, your licenses set up, and enabling all of the key functions and applications workloads across your Office 365 as well as configuration of some basic teams to support remote workers. It can be done very quickly.
When you’re doing the deployment, don’t over-complicate. We’re thinking of the human aspect of this. Communicate so people understand what’s required– how to install the system, how to use it and do some basic training. There are some really good tools out there. We have tools, and Microsoft has really good tools as well to make sure that people understand the basic navigation.
The advantage of Teams is it’s not excessively complicated. So, if you keep it simple for your first roll out – communicate its basic functionality, how to do chats, how to help conduct meetings, how to do video conferencing, things like that. It’s pretty easy to get up and running.
This can be as simple as directing the users to use the built-in help provided by the Teams Client itself, which mainly consists of short, 30-second videos that can answer many basic questions.
A couple of other great tips that we have learned from experience would be:
- Start small. You could start with an organization-wide team as well as two to three critical teams, depending on your business needs. As you roll out Teams, you can consider other components, such as audio conferencing, which allows you to join a Teams meeting with a regular phone instead of the Teams Client.
Don’t forget about security. Just because we are self-isolating, doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep looking out for spammers and bad actors. An example of a security measure you can take right away is enabling second-factor authentication.
As you are experiencing, adoption is one of the biggest challenges. Just because you build it and set it out there doesn’t mean that people are going use it. And if you don’t have a good adoption approach, they will fall back on their old way of doing business, which often means more and more email.
One great way to engage people with Teams is to help them understand that it does not just have to be for businesses. Teams can mimic the same type of “water cooler talk” they have always enjoyed, for example. That’s especially important in today’s environment because people need to be able to connect, even if they can only do so virtually.
Also, when you’re doing the deployment, don’t overcomplicate it. And, invest time in training. People need to understand what’s required, how to install the system and how to use it.
Our company has some good training tools, and Microsoft does too, of course. The advantage of Teams is it’s not excessively complicated. If you keep it simple for your first roll out – basic functionality and navigation, how to do chats, how to conduct meetings, how to do videoconferencing – it’s pretty easy to get up and running.
And lastly, just communicate — communicate often. You cannot over-communicate in this case. Let your people know what Teams is for and why it’s there, but also make sure they understand that there are some limits. You’re deploying this very rapidly to enable that remote worker. It’s not, necessarily, to solve all the collaboration and communication needs of your organization.
The trick is, all of this has to come from the top, right? So, if you have a leader who’s not abiding by this, talk to them. Say, “We really need to get people into the Teams environment. Let’s move those conversations off your email put them into Teams.”
The coronavirus pandemic s a catastrophic thing we’re all facing, but, in many respects, it’s just accelerating what was already coming. A recent global workplace analytics study based on information from the last Census said that 3.6 percent of current American employees are working remotely. By 2028, it’s expected to be 78 percent.
Fortunately for us at Centric, we’ve been a virtual company now for 20 years, so we can offer some lessons on how to work remotely, though a lot of what we have learned applies to any working environment:
- Trust each other. If you’re a leader who doesn’t trust your team to work remotely, your chance of success isn’t going to be very good. You’re not going to be seeing people face-to-face, but you still have to lean on your team, wherever they are, and make this thing work
- Establish a working space. Having a working space where you’re free from distractions or you don’t have children and dogs and things running in and out of the room is important, so you can focus on work.
- Keep a similar routine. Keep the same office hours you’ve always kept, but just do it remotely from your home office. But, there’s a flip side to this. One recent study said that remote workers typically work four days more a month than people who are working on-site, so it’s not just about 8 to 5 in the office. Makes space for yourself and make space for family–particularly in these trying times with the coronavirus. You have to be socially balanced, too.
- Be understanding. The remote workforce is much more relaxed; accept that things will be different. You may be in a meeting and hear someone say, “I’m going to step outside to the back garden now, so you may hear my dog barking.” Be as open as possible to this new environment.
- Connect with video. At Centric, we use video a lot, which helps provide the visual cues that you can miss by not having face-to-face contact. You can’t judge emotion with email, chat or even Teams chat, so video can help with that.
- Be present. In the world of remote working, it’s really easy to do multiple things at once. You’re on a meeting with your team members, and there’s a regular stand up going on, you can answer emails, you can do other things in the background. I think it’s important to be present in that conversation. Your colleagues will know if you’re not, and so will you.
Have fun. Particularly now. Things like virtual happy hours and virtual lunches allow you to interact with your team. That’s very important.
Integration with Office 365 and Other Apps, Plugins and Bots
Go all in. If you get into island mode, with some people using Skype and some using Teams, it just causes frustration. You’re going to have to do it anyway by July 31, 2021, so just go all in. Rip the Band-Aid off fast.
Get to use the tool as needed and integrate your video stuff and chat stuff all within Teams instead of having it located in two different places.
The first thing, and it’s not a plugin, but don’t overlook coauthoring. It’s something we use day in day out at Centric, and it is key to building a culture of collaboration.
A couple of good plugins are Envision and Mural. They’re great for brainstorming. It’s just like a virtual whiteboard.
Planner has some good use cases within Teams, but it doesn’t replace a larger project management tool like Microsoft Project. For smaller groups, it lets everyone have a view of who’s doing what on the project and makes it easier to move tasks from one phase to another.
The bigger issue is more about how you organize your teams and what information you’re presenting to everybody that’s going to those teams.
Don’t forget RSS news feeds. That’s a nice tool to give automatic information about specific topics within your channels.
As people start to use Teams, they become enamored and see that it’s solving so many collaboration problems. Gradually, they start to think that Teams is the place to go for everything. But, there’s still a need for SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams–they all interact together for full functionality.
SharePoint provides a location where you can have authoritative information that’s more communicative rather than collaboration oriented. You need this for HR policies, for example. And, it’s where you go to view your intranet if it’s SharePoint based.
If you have a set of sites today—one for a department, and so on—there may still be a need for those SharePoint sites, but, maybe some of those are so collaboration-oriented that you could put them into a team within Microsoft Teams.
At the department level – again, your HR department a good example—you may need a team for internal team collaboration, as well as a SharePoint site that anyone in the organization can go to for HR policies. It just requires some analysis and figuring out how you are using the tools today, which are more collaborative, and which are more communicative.
Teams all the way. The more you get people into it by getting them into a meeting, using some the tools, and sharing your displays about how you’re using teams day-to-day, they will gradually be sold on it.
We started putting Teams in place at Centric back in October 2018. About 10 months into it, we did a survey asking a lot of different questions. About 75 percent of the people said Teams has greatly increased their overall effectiveness and efficiency.
You’re always going to have outliers. Pockets of outliers can present problems if you don’t just go all-in and start getting people on the platform.
In the end, that’s what will help people understand that our organization will improve as a whole if we get more and more people to embrace this technology.
It truly can change how you operate in your workplace.
We have had some Teams clients use different meeting capabilities, but they tend to switch over to Teams for all meetings, whether internally or with clients.
I can’t think of a reason not to use Microsoft Teams meetings at this point unless you’re doing a webinar, and you’re trying to gather extra statistics and information about your end-users.
Security, Governance and Day-to-Day Operations
If you set up a team for your group, you can track conversations and documents. The difficulty is when people start doing just one-on-one chats or one-to-many chats that are outside of a team. Putting it into a team and a channel is an appropriate way to enable that tracking.
That said, Microsoft does have built-in content searches, e-discovery and auditing that you can run to track down even those personal conversations between two individuals if you need to. You can also have that “audit behind the scenes” if you are looking for it.
Finally, you can always turn off the ability for people to delete or edit their messages. Team owners can do those things, but you can turn that off at the team level itself.
I don’t know if it’s default or not, but I do know that when you create a channel, you establish a default so that notifications are shown for every member. Still, users can always go back and hide it.
Notifications are one of those features within Teams that most people pay very little attention to, but it has one of the biggest impacts as far as how well you can operate day-to-day.
If you turn up your notifications too much, you can get overwhelmed and probably frustrated. if you turn down those notifications too much, you don’t get the information that you need to, or that people are trying to communicate with. It goes back to repeated, continual education and reminders of how the tool can be used.
There are some best practices around things like putting a new team in place if you need the guard information. But, now that you have Private Channels within Teams, you can guard and send information through them.
For small workgroups—say, five or ten people—you can suddenly have people creating too many channels within the team that causes problems when you start getting larger groups of people within a team. In those cases, you need to be very intentional about setting up channels within the team.
The two main things are:
- Don’t just do it overnight.
Get the group together and really talk about the different use cases. Then, manage who can create channels and who can delete channels. For example, as the team owner for a small group, you can give all members the power to create, delete or edit channels if you want, but you wouldn’t want to do that in larger groups.
Yes, there are personal hidden mailboxes stored in Exchange Online. Even if you go with the free trial version of Teams that Microsoft makes available, it doesn’t have an Exchange Online component to it, but when you have conversations—whether a personal one-on-one chat, a group chat, or a chat within a Teams channel—all of that information is stored in the Azure Cloud in Microsoft.
So, if you need to, you can do things like perform a legal hold or do content searches. At a later time, you can capture and keep that data if you need to turn it over for litigation purposes, for example.
Training, Support and What Comes Next
Yes, but here is one extra thing to help you out. There is this bot that you can install called Faqbot. It allows users to interact within your Teams environment and ask questions, like:
- What are these things called private chats?
- How do I create a team?
- How do I create a channel?
The bot will go back to its knowledge base and look for those questions. Then it provides an answer, takes it to the next step and says, “If I don’t know the answer, I’m going to escalate this to somebody at the help desk.”
By doing that for those most common questions, you ease that IT workload while providing the ability to hand it off to a human. It takes a little bit of time to build out your knowledge base, but as far as installing it and enabling it, it’s pretty straightforward.
Microsoft has also made huge strides in Teams Help. If you haven’t visited it yet, just click the Help button in the lower-left corner of the Teams page. Some licenses also include two-minute embedded videos.
Finally, if you already have Office 365 and are pretty comfortable with it, check out Microsoft Learning Pathways. It’s a tool to build out a standard training site focused on doing basic tasks in Office 365. You can also customize it.
For example, you can turn off all the Planner-related help topics in Microsoft Learning Pathways if you’re not interested in Planner, and add your own branded training that’s directly related to your company.
We do this a lot when we roll out Teams and use the O365 Metrics Hub, which is brilliant for giving you information. It doesn’t tell you what people are doing, but it tells you how they’re using the tool. You can see, for example:
- How many licenses you’ve implemented
- How many people have actually logged in in the last couple of days
- How many chats are consumed
You can also get more detailed metrics within the Microsoft 365 Power BI add-on. Those are useful, but all they’re going show is numbers and trends. What those numbers still are not telling you is how much do people like it?
Have you gone out and surveyed them, asked them:
- What are your pain points?
- How can we make it better?
By doing that, you’re getting the feedback from the end-users. It’s not just about tracking numbers and graphs– it’s acting on those, and you can only do that by asking more qualitative questions rather than just strictly quantitative measurements you get from the graphs.
Also, think about what we’re all dealing with right now. We’re all working remotely, and you get to more of the social question, perhaps, “How connected are people are feeling?”
We did a global rollout of team for an organization, and a lot of things they were dealing with for their global sales team were that they were spread across many countries. Before we implemented Teams, we asked, “How well connected to your team do you feel? How well you feel that your organization shares information?”
Then we rolled out Teams and asked the same questions. The responses went dramatically up. Can you attach a business case to it? No, but it’s still extremely valuable to capture that emotional feedback—especially now.
Teams and Healthcare
Microsoft Teams is HIPAA compliant, and there are a variety of different extra security enhancements that you can put onto your Office 365 and Teams environment to make sure that it meets all of your internal regulatory or security requirements.
For example, in healthcare, I can use Teams on my mobile app to take a picture of something, like a wound on a patient, and that picture is stored securely within Microsoft Teams– it’s not even located on the phone itself.
Teams is being used for telemedicine today, and they are relaxing some of the requirements regarding the use of different types of tools to enable better healthcare. That relaxation will likely open up even more opportunities for tools like Teams in healthcare.
Recently, a bot came out that actually helps people determine – based on their symptoms – if they are likely to have the coronavirus, and it can also do a handoff to a human to determine the next steps for triage.