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What is Microsoft Teams?

What is Microsoft Teams?

With 1 in 4 office workers now participating in hybrid or fully remote working, it is vital that organisations provide the best tools to streamline communication and collaboration, wherever they are.

In a crowded field of contenders, Microsoft Teams has emerged as the solution of choice for enterprise organisations because it is easy to adopt and use. This cloud-based collaborative platform enables employees to communicate and work together in real-time. As part of the Microsoft Modern Work suite, it also integrates well with apps like Excel and Word.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a closer look at the platform’s features and capabilities and explore how it can enhance communication in your organisation.

Features of Microsoft Teams


Users can chat with individuals and groups, both one-on-one and in channels with a host of modern communication features including emojis, GIFs, @mentions, and reply threads.

Audio and video calls

Audio and video calls, both one-on-one and in groups, include screen sharing, call recording and virtual backgrounds. With outbound calling from PCs and mobile devices, Teams makes it easy to communicate and collaborate from anywhere.


Users can schedule meetings on a channel’s calendar or create them on the fly. The Meetings function provides a mix of video conferencing features including screen sharing, recording, and breakout rooms.

File sharing and storage

Microsoft Teams allows users to share and store files, both within Teams and with external users. With version control, co-authoring, and integration with Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint, document sharing is simple.

Integration with other apps

Teams integrates with other apps and services, including Microsoft 365, third-party, and custom apps. Some features include tabs, connectors, and bots, making integration easy.

Collaboration tools

Collaboration is at the heart of Microsoft Modern Work. The collaboration tools in Teams, such as co-authoring, whiteboard, and Planner and Tasks, help people work together on projects in real-time. 

Getting started with Microsoft Teams

If you're new to Microsoft Teams, getting started is easy. Here are some steps to follow:

Setting up an account

To use Microsoft Teams, you need to have a Microsoft account. If you don't have one, you can create one for free. Once you have a Microsoft account, you can sign into Microsoft Teams.

Downloading the Teams app

To use Microsoft Teams, you need to download the Teams app. You can download it for free from the Microsoft website. Once you have downloaded the app, you can sign in using your Microsoft account.

Joining a team

To join a team, you need to be invited by a team owner or member. Once you have been invited, you can accept the invitation and join the team.

How to create a team on Microsoft Teams

To create a team on Microsoft Teams, you need to be a team owner. Once you are a team owner, you can create a team and invite members to join.

Adding members

To start collaborating on Microsoft Teams, you need to add members to your team. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Click on the Teams icon in the navigation bar on the left side of the screen
  2. Select the team you want to add members to
  3. Click on the three dots next to the team name and select ‘Add members’
  4. Type in the email addresses of the people you want to invite and select their roles (member or owner)
  5. Click ‘Add’

Once you've added members, they will receive an email invitation to join your team.

Managing channels

Channels allow you to organise conversations and content around specific topics, projects, or departments. Here are some tips for managing channels effectively:

  1. To create a new channel, click on the ‘+’ icon next to the team name, select ‘Channel,’ and give it a name and description
  2. To join a channel, click on the channel name and select ‘Join channel’
  3. To leave a channel, click on the channel name and select ‘Leave channel’
  4. To manage channel settings, click on the three dots next to the channel name and select ‘Manage channel’
  5. Here, you can change the channel name, description, privacy settings, and add or remove members

Setting up notifications

Notifications can help you stay on top of important conversations and updates. Here's how you can set them up:

  1. Click on your profile picture in the top right corner of the screen and select ‘Settings’
  2. Select ‘Notifications’ from the menu on the left side of the screen
  3. Choose how you want to receive notifications (email, mobile, or desktop) and customise the settings for each notification type
  4. You can also set up quiet hours or turn off notifications for specific channels

How to use Microsoft Teams for communication and collaboration

Now that you know how to add members, manage channels, and set up notifications, let's explore how to use Microsoft Teams for communication and collaboration.

Understanding Chat

Chat is a great way to have quick conversations with individuals or groups. Here's how you can use it:

  1. Click on the chat icon in the navigation bar on the left side of the screen
  2. Select ‘New chat’ to start a conversation with an individual or ‘New group chat’ to start a conversation with a group
  3. Type your message and hit enter to send
  4. You can also add emojis, GIFs, and @mentions to your message

Understanding channels

Channels are virtual spaces where team members can collaborate, communicate, and share information. They can be organised based on a particular topic, project, or team, providing a dedicated space for team members to have conversations, share files, and work together on tasks.

Creating a new channel:

To create a new channel, you can follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the team where you want to create a new channel
  2. Click on the three dots next to the team name
  3. Select ‘Add channel’ from the drop-down menu
  4. Enter a name for the channel and add a description if necessary
  5. Choose whether the channel should be public or private
  6. Click ‘Add’ to create the new channel

Joining a channel:

If you want to join an existing channel, you can follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the team where the channel is located
  2. Click on the ‘Channels’ tab at the top of the screen
  3. Find the channel you want to join and click on it
  4. Click on the ‘Join’ button at the top of the screen

Understanding channel conversations:

Channel conversations are like chat conversations but take place in a specific channel rather than in a private chat. Team members can post messages, reply, share files, and @mention other team members.

Using channel mentions:

You can use @mentions in channel conversations to direct a message to a specific team member or group of team members. When you use @mentions in a channel, the team member or group you mentioned will receive a notification, alerting them to the message.

Understanding Teams meetings

Microsoft Teams offers various options for virtual meetings, including video and audio conferencing, webinars, and live events. Teams meetings allow users to collaborate and communicate with others in real-time, regardless of their location.

Scheduling and joining a meeting

To schedule a meeting on Microsoft Teams, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Teams app and select ‘Calendar’ from the navigation bar on the left side of the screen
  2. Click on the ‘New meeting’ button in the top right corner of the screen
  3. Enter the meeting details, including the title, date, time, and duration of the meeting
  4. Add participants to the meeting by typing their names or email addresses in the ‘Add required attendees’ field
  5. Choose whether to allow external guests to join the meeting by selecting ‘Anyone’ or ‘People in my organisation only’ under ‘Add optional attendees’
  6. Select ‘Send’ to invite participants to the meeting

To join a meeting on Microsoft Teams, you can click on the meeting link in the invitation email or calendar event, or join directly from the Teams app by following these steps:

  1. Go to the ‘Calendar’ tab in the Teams app
  2. Click on the meeting you want to join
  3. Click on the ‘Join’ button to enter the meeting

To join a meeting on Microsoft Teams, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Teams app
  2. Go to the ‘Calendar’ tab
  3. Click on the meeting you want to join
  4. Click on the ‘Join’ button to enter the meeting

Inviting external guests to a meeting

To invite external guests to a meeting on Microsoft Teams, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule a meeting as usual but select ‘Anyone’ or ‘People in my organisation only’ under ‘Add optional attendees’
  2. Enter the email addresses of the external guests in the ‘Add optional attendees’ field
  3. Send the meeting invitation

External guests can join the meeting by clicking on the link provided in the meeting invitation.

Recording a meeting

Microsoft Teams allows users to record meetings for future reference or for those who couldn't attend the meeting. To record a meeting on Microsoft Teams, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the ‘More actions’ button during the meeting
  2. Select ‘Start recording’ from the drop-down menu
  3. When you're finished, click on the ‘More actions’ button again
  4. Select ‘Stop recording’ from the drop-down menu

Sharing content during a meeting

Microsoft Teams allows users to share their screens, files, and applications during a meeting. To share content during a meeting, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the ‘Share’ button during the meeting
  2. Select the content you want to share, such as your screen or a specific application
  3. Click ‘Share’ to begin sharing your content

Other participants can view your shared content in real-time and interact with it if necessary.

Using Teams collaboration tools

With 20 million Brits working from home at least some of the time*, it is vital for employees to feel connected to the wider business. Effective collaboration is simple with Microsoft Teams collaboration tools, helping teams work together efficiently. Some of the most popular collaboration tools available in Teams include co-authoring documents, using the whiteboard, and using Planner and Tasks.

Co-authoring documents

Co-authoring documents in Teams is an efficient and time-saving way to collaborate with team members in real-time. With co-authoring, multiple team members can work on the same document simultaneously, without overwriting each other's changes or having to work on the document individually. 

To co-author a document in Teams, simply open the document in Teams and start making changes. As you make changes, other team members who have the document open will see your changes in real-time. You can also use the commenting feature to leave notes and feedback for other team members.

Using the whiteboard

The whiteboard feature in Teams allows team members to collaborate and brainstorm ideas in real-time. This feature is great for teams that are working on creative projects or need to visualise ideas.

To use the whiteboard in Teams, click on the ‘Share’ button during a meeting and select ‘Whiteboard’. Once the whiteboard is open, team members can use the drawing tools to create diagrams, sketches, and other visuals. You can also save the whiteboard as an image or a PDF for later reference.

Using Planner and Tasks

Planner and Tasks are two powerful tools in Teams that help employees stay organised and manage their workloads. With Planner, each team member can create and assign tasks, track progress, and set due dates. Tasks allow team members to create individual to-do lists and keep track of their own tasks. Using collaboration tools like co-authoring, whiteboard, and Planner and Tasks helps teams work more efficiently and stay organised. Users can easily access these tools from within Teams, making it a one-stop shop for all their collaboration needs.

Integrations with other apps and services

Microsoft Teams provides integration with a wide range of apps and services, making it easy to bring together all the tools you need in one place. With these integrations, you can streamline your workflow, save time, and improve productivity. 

Overview of Microsoft Teams integrations

Microsoft Teams integrates with many popular apps and services, including Salesforce, Trello, Asana, and Zoom. These integrations allow you to use your favourite tools within the Teams environment without having to switch between multiple applications.

Microsoft 365 apps

Teams offers integration with Microsoft 365 apps, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. This integration allows you to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real-time, without switching between applications. You can also directly access and edit files stored in SharePoint and OneDrive.

Third-party integrations

In addition to Microsoft 365 apps, Teams integrates with many popular third-party tools, such as GitHub, Trello, and SurveyMonkey. These integrations bring your favourite tools and services directly into Teams, enabling you to work more efficiently and effectively.

Configuring and using apps in Teams

To use an app in Teams, you first need to install it from the Teams app store. Once you've installed an app, you can configure its settings and permissions to meet your needs. You can also use the app within Teams by accessing it from the app launcher, which is located on the left-hand side of the Teams interface.

Security and compliance in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is designed with security and compliance in mind, providing a range of features and tools to help you keep your data secure and meet regulatory requirements. 

Understanding security and compliance features in Teams

Teams provides a range of security and compliance features, including data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and conditional access policies. These features help protect your data and ensure that only authorised users can access it.

Compliance features, including eDiscovery and Legal Hold

Teams also provides compliance features, such as eDiscovery and Legal Hold, enabling you to search for and retrieve specific messages or files as part of a legal or regulatory request. These features help your organisation meet its legal and regulatory obligations.

Data protection and retention policies

Within Teams, there are a range of data protection and retention policies, allowing you to control how long your data is retained and who can access it. You can set and customise policies for individual channels, teams, or your entire organisation.

Managing external access and guest access

Teams has granular controls for managing external access and guest access, allowing you to control who can access your Teams environment and what they can do within it. You can also set policies to control the external sharing of files and data.

Tips and tricks for using Microsoft Teams efficiently

In addition to the features we've already discussed, there are some tips and tricks you can use to improve your experience with Microsoft Teams. These include keyboard shortcuts, customising notifications, and more.

Keyboard shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time when navigating Microsoft Teams. Here are some of the most useful keyboard shortcuts:

  • Ctrl + 1: Switch to the Chat tab
  • Ctrl + 2: Switch to the Teams tab
  • Ctrl + 3: Switch to the Calls tab
  • Ctrl + 4: Switch to the Calendar tab
  • Ctrl + Shift + M: Start a new chat
  • Ctrl + N: Start a new channel
  • Ctrl + E: Search
  • Ctrl + Shift + T: Open your profile and status settings
  • Ctrl + Shift + X: Open the Command box
  • Ctrl + Shift + O: Go to your Activity feed

Customising notifications

Notifications can be a great way to keep up with what's happening in Teams, but they can also be overwhelming. Here's how you can customise your notifications:

  • Click on your profile picture in the top right corner and select ‘Settings’
  • Click on ‘Notifications’ and select the type of notification you want to customise
  • Choose how you want to be notified - by banner, email, or both
  • Select the sound you want to use for notifications

You can also set up priority notifications, which will notify you of urgent messages even if your status is set to ‘Do Not Disturb.’

Using search to find messages and files

If you're looking for a specific message or file in Teams, the search feature can help you find it quickly. Here's how to use search:

  • Click on the magnifying glass icon at the top of the screen
  • Enter the search term you're looking for
  • Select where you want to search - in a specific channel, chat, or the entire Teams app
  • Press ‘Enter’ to view the search results

You can also use filters to narrow down your search results by person, date, or file type.

Pinning important chats and channels

If you have important chats or channels that you want to keep at the top of your list, you can pin them for quick access. Here's how:

  • Right-click on the chat or channel you want to pin
  • Select ‘Pin’
  • The chat or channel will now appear at the top of your list

You can unpin the chat or channel at any time by right-clicking and selecting ‘Unpin’.

Using command shortcuts

Command shortcuts can be a useful way to perform certain actions quickly. Here are some examples:

  • /call: Start a call with someone
  • /files: See all files in the current channel or chat
  • /goto: Go to a specific channel or chat
  • /keys: See a list of keyboard shortcuts
  • /org: View the organisation chart

You can access the Command box by pressing Ctrl + Shift + X or by clicking on the magnifying glass icon and selecting ‘Command’.

Using the mobile app

If you're on the go, you can stay connected and use Microsoft Teams with the mobile app. Users can join meetings, make and receive calls, participate in chat conversations and access files and documents from anywhere.

Frequently Asked Questions about Microsoft Teams

What is the difference between a team and a channel in Microsoft Teams?

A team is a group of people who come together to work on a project, while a channel is a subgroup within a team that focuses on a specific topic or task. Channels allow you to organise conversations and files within a team, based on the topics or areas of focus.

How do I add external guests to my Teams meetings?

To add external guests to a Teams meeting, you can simply invite them by email. When scheduling a meeting, you can add the external guest's email address in the ‘Invite someone’ field. They will then receive an email invitation with a link to join the meeting.

Can I use Microsoft Teams on my mobile device?

Yes, Microsoft Teams has a mobile app that is available for both iOS and Android devices. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Can I use Microsoft Teams for project management?

Yes, Microsoft Teams has several features that make it a useful tool for project management. You can create teams for each project, use channels to organise conversations and files, use Planner to create and manage tasks and use the whiteboard for brainstorming and collaboration.

How do I delete a chat or message in Microsoft Teams?

To delete a chat or message in Microsoft Teams, simply right-click on the message or chat and select ‘Delete’. You can also delete an entire conversation by clicking on the three dots next to the chat and selecting ‘Delete conversation’.

How do I customise my notifications in Microsoft Teams?

To customise your notifications in Microsoft Teams, go to your profile picture and select ‘Settings’, then click on ‘Notifications’. From there, you can choose which types of notifications you want to receive and how you want to receive them.

How do I stop Microsoft Teams from opening on startup?

To stop Microsoft Teams from launching on startup, in Teams, go to ‘Settings’, select ‘General’, and uncheck ‘Auto-start application’.

How to share screens on Microsoft Teams?

To share your screen on Microsoft Teams, start a meeting or call, then click on the ‘Share’ icon in the meeting controls. You can then choose to share your entire desktop or a specific window or application.

Nasstar solutions for Microsoft Teams

As a long-standing, accredited Microsoft partner, we have developed a wide range of end-to-end services to help you seamlessly implement Microsoft Teams in your organisation and help you plan for success. 

Teams Governance and Performance

Microsoft Teams activity generates data on how your organisation is operating. Harness the power of this data and turn it into powerful insights and automated actions. With Teamwork Analytics you can ensure compliance, improve the quality and reliability of calls and meetings and drive better organisation-wide adoption.

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams combines telephony infrastructure with the functionality of a cloud-based collaboration platform, allowing users to make and receive calls on any device using Microsoft Teams. This fully managed enterprise-grade solution connects your Teams and Microsoft 365 deployment to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Learn more about Microsoft Teams telephony features.

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*Working from home and hybrid working statistics (