The growing popularity of Microsoft Teams has been well documented, with many businesses encouraging widespread remote working as a safety measure.

Although working from home was originally encouraged for social distancing reasons, there are now a lot of businesses looking to implement a long-term culture of flexible working, as they have been impressed by the productivity levels experienced over the past few months.

Microsoft are aware of this, and in a bid to retain many of its new customers, they are constantly introducing new and exciting features in direct response to customer feedback.

From our perspective, it’s important to keep up to date with the latest developments, understanding what changes have been made and the impact these will have on our growing client base.

Below, we’ve covered some of the most significant updates implemented in the past month and analysed how these will impact the current user experience.

Multi-window meetings and lobby settings

In recent blogs, we explored the importance of Teams meetings and calls in allowing colleagues to communicate and collaborate, despite being in different locations.

Last month, Microsoft doubled down on its efforts to improve the meetings experience by rolling out a new multi-window meeting and calling experience.

Allowing users to conduct meetings and calls on a separate pop-out window, this experience is the foundation for together mode and large gallery views, which allows participants to see up to 49 video streams at once.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has added a new option in response to the ‘who can bypass lobby?’ setting. The ‘only me’ option can now be selected, which means only the meeting organiser can join the meeting directly.

All other participants will be sent to the lobby, giving organisers greater control over who enters the meeting and when it begins.

New collaboration features

Collaboration is a key reason why Teams has become the programme of choice for many organisations during the pandemic. Microsoft understand this and have introduced a host of exciting features to enhance collaboration on the platform.

Contextual search is one of these, allowing users to find information faster by searching for content in a specific channel or chat by pressing the CTRL + F shortcut. However, it should be remembered that the search results will only contain messages and files found in the selected channel.

Another key update involves the introduction of a consistent file sharing and access control experience that users will be familiar with from other Microsoft services. Soon, users will be able to share files via sharing links, which can provide access to anyone, whether they are internal or external to the business.

For those organisations that use Yammer to engage with employees, it will soon be possible for users to stay connected to their communities within the Teams mobile app. To enable this feature, you must first install the Communities app in the Teams web or desktop clients.

Other new features include the channel info pane, which businesses can use to display summary information relating to a specific channel. Meanwhile, system measures will now be filtered out from the general channel, with team member information relocated to the member list.

Advisor and information protection sensitivity labels

Planning the best possible Teams deployment can be challenging, especially for organisations with limited experience using the service.

Designed to remove stress from the process, Advisor for Teams is an onboarding tool that helps businesses plan the best possible deployment through recommended plans and a collaborating space for the team to streamline the roll out of important workloads.

If utilised correctly, it is possible for organisations to increase their deployment velocity by up to 300%, making the entire process more efficient and manageable.

Microsoft information protection sensitivity labels have also been made generally available for Teams, SharePoint sites and Microsoft 365 Groups. These labels can now be associated with privacy policies, external user memberships and unmanaged device access.

With data constantly being shared in Teams, this capability will allow businesses to ensure sensitive information is secure in compliance with data protection laws.

New Power BI app

Businesses are beginning to understand the importance of harnessing relevant, accurate and timely data, in a bid to facilitate further growth and gain an advantage over competitors.

Power BI is the Microsoft service responsible for transforming information into important insights, allowing organisations to dig deeper into the masses of information they have collected for the benefit of the business.

The new Power BI app for Teams enables you to access reports and dashboards, finding insights in context before collaborating with colleagues where necessary.

This app also helps users make data-driven decisions at scale with confidence, providing people with new ways to connect insight and action through sample reports, automation and easy sharing functionality.

It’s yet another example of how Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to create a familiar and integrated experience for all its users, new and existing.

Make a lasting change…

Most readers will be familiar with Microsoft Teams and the benefits it provides to businesses that are currently working remotely.

One of the best things about the service is that it’s constantly evolving, with new features being introduced on a weekly basis, so users have access to the tools they need moving forward.

Rather than it being a short-term investment for the duration of the pandemic, businesses are now seeing the long-term potential of the service and how it can bring about lasting change to an organisation and its culture.

If you haven’t yet implemented Teams within your business, but would like to experience its benefits first-hand, then contact our in-house team and find a solution that meets your unique requirements.