As the world shifts to hybrid and remote work operating environments, businesses quickly realize how crucial communication technologies are to the viability of this new approach. Although many businesses flocked toward consumer technologies such as Zoom during the pandemic, most have settled into business and enterprise-oriented technologies, such as Microsoft Teams, for their go-to solution moving forward. Even though the Microsoft Teams product name may seem relatively new to most people, the product (previously known as Microsoft Office Communicator, Microsoft Lync, and Skype for Business) has been evolving for nearly 15 years. Through this evolution, Microsoft Teams has introduced countless new capabilities that help small businesses collaborate more effectively, both inside and outside their organizations.
Chat (Instant Messaging)
The first transformative capability of Microsoft Teams is its Chat feature. You might be thinking "What's so special about Chat? Instant messaging has been around for decades." While the capabilities of Chat aren't necessarily groundbreaking, a business's adoption of Chat as their primary line of inter-office communication is.
Without Microsoft Teams Chat, businesses with hybrid and remote work environments lean on email as their primary communication system. In addition to being relatively slow, conversations are often missed because they are buried in a sea of other email clutter. After adopting Microsoft Teams Chat, businesses have a new avenue for real-time communication amongst their staff. From getting a quick answer to a question while you are on the phone with a customer, to messaging several people to see who is available or what the status of something is, Microsoft Teams Chat enables an instant line of communication that email simply cannot deliver.
Taking Chat capabilities one step further is the Teams function in Microsoft Teams. The Teams function allows businesses to group their staff into functional units, such as departments or sub-groups. This allows conversations to be distributed amongst only those staff members they pertain to. Have a customer who needs immediate assistance? Message your Customer Service Team and see who is available to assist.
Also, unlike the Chat function which works more like simple text messaging, the Teams function allows for separate conversations topics in one view with inline replies. This allows team members to have multiple simultaneous conversations while staying organized and efficient.
The feature most people think of when they hear Microsoft Teams is the Meetings function. Just like Zoom, Skype, and other virtual meeting platforms, Meetings in Microsoft Teams allows businesses to host virtual meetings with people inside and outside their organization. This face-to-face communication is essential to a successful hybrid or remote work environment and helps form a deeper connection with customers that simply can't be achieved via email or phone calls alone.
Some powerful capabilities of Meetings include:
- Allow people to "dial-in" to meetings if they don't have a webcam or microphone (requires the Microsoft 365 Audio Conferencing add-on license)
- Host webinars with registration forms and attendee tracking
- Broadcast live events (aka: Live streams) to large audiences with optimization for multi-media playback, multiple presenters, and content moderators
- Record meetings for attendees who missed the meeting, training, or other future review needs
The Microsoft Teams Ecosystem
Beyond the obvious instant messaging and virtual meeting capabilities, Microsoft Teams has an entire ecosystem of apps and features that allow businesses to make Teams the center of their collaboration and productivity. From convenient file sharing and interactive polls to integration with other Microsoft and third-party platforms, Microsoft Teams has the apps and features businesses need to close communication gaps and introduce new levels of productivity in this new remote work world.