This introductory blog series is intended for remote workers who have started using Teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams will be an essential tool in the battle to stay productive, to stay connected, and to fight corona as one global community. It is not intended for IT Pros which should refer to the Teams Real Simple with Pictures series, also on this site

Written: 17/03/2020 | Updated: N/A

Ok. Day one. You’ve just been told that you need to start using Teams. Your admin has installed it on your machine and has logged you in. You don’t know where to begin. What is a Team? What is a channel? What is a tab? Let’s get acquainted.

WHAT IS TEAMS?

Teams is an application where you can work together with others in Teams. You can chat together. You can hold meetings together. You can make phone calls. You can work together on documents like word and excel files. You can do all this without having to be in the same office or location. Teams has been designed by Microsoft so users can work together from anywhere, whether in the office, from home, or even on the go via their laptop, tablet or even their phone via the mobile app!

YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH TEAMS

Your experience with Teams will be through clients. You may use one, or all of these and it is typical to use a combination of all three as time goes on

1.) Desktop Client: Installed on your Windows, MAC or Linux desktop/laptop. This is the primary client and how most people typically use Teams on a day to day basis

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2.) Web Client: Available by logging into https://teams.microsoft.com and supported by most modern browsers including Microsoft EDGE and the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox. This is almost identical to the Desktop version which makes for a smooth experience moving between the desktop and online versions and if you are accessing Teams on a shared computer (I.e. in a library) or another machine. Changes are synced between the Desktop and Web clients and vice versa

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3.) Mobile Client: Downloadable from the IOS/Android App store on your device. The features are very similar to the desktop/web clients but designed for a mobile experience. hanges are synced between the Desktop and Web clients and the mobile client and vice versa.

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It is recommended you have the latest updates installed to your devices and browsers kept up to date to keep Teams running optimally.

SIX KEY FEATURES OF THE DESKTOP CLIENT

To orientate you, we’ll start off with six features in the Desktop Client

1 | TEAMS

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Teams are collections of people, content, and tools surrounding different projects and outcomes within an organization. You could – for example – have a team for sales, and a team for marketing to reflect the structure of your organisation. Yet you could also have teams for hobbies, interests, projects, social activities. It is important to stress that there is no limit or hard and fast rules on what a team ought to be, and organisations often limit themselves as they typically think of Teams in hierarchies like their own organisational hierachy

Dynamic Teams are short-term typically for events, projects and time specific activities
Ongoing Teams are longer-term, and typically reflect departments or business functions

2 | CHANNELS

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Channels are defined as dedicated sections within a team to keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects, disciplines. If, for example, you had a Sales Team, then typical channel you may see would be Leads, Opportunites, Pipeline, Reporting and Resources. However, how you name your channels and what you use them for is completely up to you. Currently, you can have a maximum of 200 standard channels in a Team and 30 private channels. The difference between standard and private will be explored in later blogs.

Every channel within a Team has tabs

3 | TABS

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Tabs allow team members to access services, apps and content in a dedicated space within a channel. The three default tabs in every channel are

  • Posts – where chats occur between members of the Team
  • Files – files shared and worked on collaboratively between members of the team
  • Wiki – a collective knowledgebase which members of the team can write together

The Add (+) symbol means you can add more applications to the Team. This could be any number of Microsoft of Third Party applications. Teams supports over 200. We’ll explore some of these in later blogs

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4 | APP BAR

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The app bar, or what is sometimes called the left rail, is a navigation bar for frequently used apps. You will see a set of default apps here like Chat (for private chats), Calendar (to schedule meetings) and Calls (to call others). As you begin to use Teams and other applications with Teams more frequently, you can pin them to the app bar by selecting the ellipsis (…) left clicking the app and select pin. This is a great way to have the apps you need most close to hand

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5 | SEARCH BAR

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The search bar is to search for messages, people or files.

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It can also be used to execute Slash Commands. Slash commands are commands that start with a forward slash (/) and can be a very quick way of performing an action. An example is /chat which intitates a private chat with another member of the business

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A whole list of slash commands can be found by simply typing / in the search bar

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6 | MENU

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The menu can be accessed by clicking on your profile picture at the top right of the client. This contains your presence and status, your client settings, the ability to adjust the zoom on the client to make it easier on the eyes, and the ability to sign out of the client if required

Our job here is done. Now you understand

  • What Teams is
  • The three principle clients used to access Teams
  • The six key features of the Desktop Client – Teams, Channels, Tabs, the App Bar, the Search Bar and the Menu

I hope you enjoyed this blog

Tomorrow’s blog is going to be on How do I join or create a team, create a channel and start a chat?

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