Microsoft Teams recently celebrated its third birthday, giving us another opportunity to look closely at the service and how it can help businesses of all sizes.

Since its creation, Teams has been a cloud-based hub for company communication and collaboration, allowing globally connected workforces to operate efficiently.

Whilst its userbase has grown steadily over the past few years, the recent coronavirus crisis has led to an unprecedented spike in usage, with over 44 million daily users – 12 million of those coming within a seven-day period in March.

According to recent figures from Microsoft, during that same seven-day period, users generated over 900 million meeting and calling minutes, offering a valuable insight into how vital Teams has become in allowing business to continue as usual, despite the disruptions.

The new challenge for Microsoft will be to retain these users once the crisis has passed, but the company already has its finger on the pulse, introducing a range of new features to improve the user experience.

Meeting improvements

Given the staggering amount of meeting and calling minutes recorded in March, Teams has introduced a couple of exciting features to improve the meeting experience for customers.

Whilst background blur already exists as a feature, allowing users to blur distractions going on behind them, there was no such feature available to suppress unwanted noise coming from one or more of the participants.

With real-time noise suppression, users can minimise distracting background noise, allowing other participants to hear what’s being said. This will be a great introduction for those who are often competing with the drone of a vacuum or traffic, during this period of remote working.

Another key meeting feature that has recently been added is the ‘raise hand’ option, which allows participants to send a visual signal when they have something to say.

This can be especially useful in larger meetings, where it can be difficult to offer input without talking over other people in the group.

Offering support across all industries

With businesses across a range of industries now using Teams, the technology has been adapted, so that it’s suitable for employees working in a range of environments.

Although most people are working from home, some industrial workers are still expected to continue as usual, so it’s important that they can collaborate and communicate effectively while staying safe.

Through a new integration between Teams and RealWear head mounted-devices, frontline workers will have access to information and can communicate hands-free with their colleagues.

Meanwhile, B2C businesses who operate through meetings with their clients can take advantage of the new ‘Bookings’ app, making it easier for people to schedule, manage and conduct virtual appointments.

This can be especially useful for online GP appointments, meetings, or job interviews, while social distancing measures remain in place.

Streamlined communication

One of the most-used features in Microsoft Teams is the chat, where employees can send messages in real-time to a group of people or specific person.

Within these conversation channels, users can share ideas and information, sending documents to other participants to enhance collaboration.

Soon, Teams users will have the ability to pop out chats into a separate window, allowing them to streamline their workflow and move easily between ongoing conversations.

Offline and low-bandwidth support will also allow employees to read chat messages and write responses even without an internet connection, which will be a welcome update for those employees who commute regularly and have limited access to internet.

Both chat updates have been designed to give new and existing users the tools they need to become more efficient in their roles.

Change for the future...

During a period of uncertainty, Microsoft Teams has stepped forward to facilitate remote working across all industries, with a significant spike in the number of businesses now using the service.

Although the crisis is far from over, Microsoft is confident that new users will stick with the service once things return to normal, and these updates show they are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to keep users happy.

The process of improving the Teams experience is still ongoing. Microsoft releases a new update cycle each month in direct response to customer feedback, giving people what they want most.

If you’re interested in joining the millions of new users, then contact our in-house team and find a Teams solution that works for your business.