Some of the UK’s lockdown restrictions have been eased in recent weeks, as businesses begin trialing a return to the workplace in some capacity.
However, with a lot of organisations warming to the idea of remote working, having been encouraged by improved productivity levels and lower overhead costs, it is likely that some will look to redefine their working week, allowing employees to continue working from home if they wish to.
For this reason, platforms like Microsoft Teams, that have been vital in allowing employees to communicate and collaborate throughout the pandemic, will continue to be overwhelmingly popular in the future.
If you are still actively using Teams, it is important to familairise yourself with the latest updates, so you can extract maximum value from the service and deliver better results across the board.
This blog will take a closer look at some of the most significant Teams updates introduced in recent weeks, so you can get the most out of the new features.
Meetings and webinars
With the opportunity for face-to-face interactions currently limited, Teams meetings and webinars features are proving extremely popular, as they allow employees and clients to communicate freely from different locations.
In a bid to enhance the meetings experience, Microsoft recently revealed a live transcription and speaker attribution feature that allows users to follow and review conversations alongside the meeting video in real time. Not only does this update promote inclusivity for participants with hearing difficulties, but it allows businesses to share information with people that didn’t attend the meeting originally.
Similarly, a meeting recap feature has been introduced to help teams stay on track and revisit the meeting minutes once it has concluded. The recap includes a recording, transcript, chat history and attached files, which can all be accessed via the details tab.
With the majority of Teams meetings scheduled in Outlook’s Calendar tab, users can now start meetings instantly from within the tab by selecting a ‘meet now’ option. This ‘meet now’ link can then be copied from the calendar and shared with others participants in a separate email or chat.
Finally, a new bypass lobby option has been added to offer another level of security and flexibility for Teams users. With this policy, businesses can allow certain groups of users to join the meeting directly, without the need for the host’s approval.
Like meetings, many users rely on Teams to make calls to fellow colleagues as a replacement for the daily workplace conversations.
One of the most exciting calling features to be introduced in recent weeks is voice-enabled channels, that allow users to connect a call queue to a Teams channel. Ideal for IT helpdesks or HR hotlines, this feature allows users to collaborate within a channel while talking calls in the queue.
Meanwhile, to support the most critical conversations in the event of a power outage, a Survivable Branch Appliance (SBA) has been added, which allows users to place and receive PTSN calls even if the network is down.
If an outage occurs, the Teams client automatically switches to the SBA, so that ongoing calls can continue without interruptions to the service. Then, once the network connectivity has been restored, normal functionality is resumed and call records are uploaded to the cloud.
This is a significant improvement for businesses that are offering customer support and are expected to provide assistance around the clock.
Chat and collaboration
With Microsoft Teams building a strong reputation as a facilitator of collaboration, many of the highly-anticipated updates centre around sharing information and the general chat features.
With file sharing such an important part of Teams, Microsoft has now increased the upload file size limit from 100 GB to 250 GB. This also applies to all other Microsoft 365 services, meaning users can easily share large files like a 3D building model.
In a bid to further streamline the file sharing experience, users can also create a shareable link for any file stored in Teams and directly set the appropriate permissions. With businesses now able to create an org-wide team of up to 10,000 users, these file sharing improvements will be felt company-wide.
In the latest round of Teams updates, Microsoft Viva Insights has also been added to the Teams service, allowing users with Exchange Online mailboxes to seamlessly strengthen key relationships and manage tasks with minimal disruptions to their daily work.
With Microsoft Viva Insights, businesses will be able to keep a close eye on employee productivity and wellbeing, using the analytics provided to assess the impact of work patterns and make improvements where necessary.
Planning for the future…
Although the vaccine rollout and relaxation of some restrictions is positive news, it is vital that organisations have systems in place so that operations can continue in the event of another lockdown.
With many employees preferring a culture of flexible working, where they have the option of working from home or the office, services like Microsoft Teams are vital in allowing colleagues to work together, despite being in different locations.
Since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft has shown that it will listen carefully to customer feedback and introduce updates that enhance the user experience. This commitment to quality will undoubtedly continue, as more businesses realise the benefits of utilsing Teams.
If your business is yet to implement the service, then contact our in-house team of specialists and find a solution that meets your unique requirements.