Microsoft Teams has become a critical tool for many businesses in today’s landscape of remote working. In fact, it reached 44 million daily active users at the height of the pandemic in April 2020, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a fantastic collaboration tool that really can make it easy to do your job anytime, anywhere, but many users aren’t making the most of the system. So today, I wanted to share five tips to get the most out of your Teams platform.

#1 Share and collaborate with external users

This is one of the core benefits of your Teams platform. You can converse, collaborate and connect with anyone – inside or outside your organisation. You can add guests to meetings, chat groups, calls and even share files.

Although Teams is one of the most widely used and leading platforms, some organisations are still using others, so it’s handy to be able to bring them in to your meetings on one platform. And there are more and more tools becoming available to enhance this. For example, there is now a Microsoft Teams calling app that can be used on the Slack platform, and Teams users can now screen share with Skype for Business users, enabling even greater collaboration with your network.

#2 Boost productivity

When it comes to making your workday more productive, there are a ton of ways you can use Teams to get more done, and many of them are underused. Here are just a few to get you started.

Move conversations and all attachments from Outlook to Teams (or vice versa) at the touch of a button. There can be times when it’s better to use email and some prefer this for one-to-one communication. But it can become annoying when you need to bring others in (remember reading through long email threads, complete with missing attachments, to get up to speed on a project?) Now, you can use the “Share to Teams” button on your Outlook to move it all to the group you need to share it with instantaneously.

Set up tags to communicate easily. Another great and often underused feature is the “Tags” function, which makes it simple to communicate quickly and effectively with a group based on any shared attribute. You can use Tags to direct a message to all people in that group (for example, all of your team leaders) or use the Tag as an “@mention” to ensure everyone in that group is notified of a message.

Activate the Teams app so you can collaborate anywhere. With the same interface as on PC or MAC, the app really makes it easy to get things done anywhere.

#3 Integrate your bots and business apps on one platform

Microsoft Teams has an open source code, meaning that any developer can build custom apps or integrations with existing apps, so Teams really can become a hub for all your business apps. These integrations are particularly handy when it comes to your project management apps, like Wrike or Trello, because the two systems work together, meaning your conversations and your tasks are in the one place.

There are also a range of bots you can use on Microsoft Teams that boost productivity and create connections between platforms. Bots can be used to do almost anything in Teams, from kicking off workflows or keeping track of team tasks to taking polls and congratulating staff, or even answering natural language questions about sales or customer usage. If you haven’t explored how bots can help you make the most of Teams, it’s something worth checking out.

#4 Use Teams for all your business calls

You’re probably familiar with Teams calling, but what you may not know is that you can replace your business phone lines with Teams Direct Routing, and it’s cost-effective for businesses of all sizes.

It means your team can make or receive business calls, anytime, anywhere in the world through their Teams app on any device, laptop, tablets, mobiles, which is perfect with so many businesses continuing to work remotely. There’s no need to upgrade hardware and it’s simple to install, maintain and use, so if you haven’t investigated it, it’s worth taking a look.

#5 Activate security features to protect your data

Microsoft Teams has the highest level of compliance and security features, but there are a few things you need to think about to ensure you have the right protection in place, particularly when you are giving access to external users. Here are just a few things to consider:

Can guests access more than they should? To get the most out of your Teams platform, chances are that you are collaborating with external clients, suppliers or other users. But how much access are you giving them? Are you checking your guest register regularly to make sure you remove people you no longer want to collaborate with? Microsoft has a ton of tips to make sure you are getting this right.

How are you managing apps? With the wide range of third-party apps available on Teams, it’s a good idea to think about how you want to manage these. Some organisations will choose to restrict and control the apps available to team members and this can be a good idea because the data collection or privacy policies on these third-party apps may not be aligned with yours. You can set the types of apps you want to allow your team to use in the Teams Admin Centre.

Are your settings allowing uninvited guests into meetings? While Microsoft Teams does have tight security features around meetings, it’s also important to make sure you have the right settings. If someone does gain access to a meeting link, they can join the meeting if you don’t have the right settings. Here’s how to check your settings.