Getting Started with Microsoft Teams Plus 6 Quick Tips

As many nonprofit leaders are quickly finding out, effectively utilizing online collaboration tools is vital to managing a remote workforce. With the sudden onslaught of workers now operating from home, Microsoft has begun offering a free 6-month Office 365 E1 Trial, including Microsoft Teams.

At Heller Consulting, we use Microsoft Teams as our primary way of communicating and collaborating internally, and we think nonprofits who adopt teams will find the same benefits to their daily operations that we have found. That’s why we want to share our best advice for setting up teams for the first time along with 6 quick tips to help get the most out of Teams once you start using it!

I’m in charge of setting up Teams for our nonprofit. Where do I start?

Before you even install Teams on your computer, we recommend watching tutorials to get a feel for the layout and design. Our admin team watched this tutorial to get acquainted with the software and Microsoft listed guidance and tips in this article.

From there, take time to plan out what will be “teams” and what will be “channels” and who will be on each team and channel to start. For a quick explainer on the difference read here.

We recommend that you limit who can create teams and channels during set-up or send out guidelines about how teams should be created. If you grant access to everyone without clear communication, it can quickly become a ‘free-for-all’ causing confusion due to overlapping and duplicated topics. Having one person remain focused on the big picture can be a backstop whenever new additions to Teams are suggested.

After you’ve made sure everyone has access to Teams, you can use Microsoft’s Customer Success Kit that contains email templates for rolling out Teams to your users. Once you get started, here’s how to get most out of the user experience:

6 Quick Tips for using Teams

#1: Blur Your Background

Especially now with children and partners at home, blurring your background is a wonderful tool to utilize when in video calls. You can blur your background so that you stay clear and everything behind you is concealed.

#2:  Customize Your View

To make Teams more streamlined for yourself, you can pin and hide teams and channels. This cleans up visibility and focuses your attention on what is most important for the day. Pin which channels and teams you are actively working in and hide channels and teams that you rarely need to check.

#3: Bookmark Activity Feed Items

Like flagging a message in Outlook, you can bookmark an item on your activity feed by marking it as unread. This allows you to come back and use your activity feed as a to-do list.

#4: @Mention Staff Members

When asking your teammates to respond or assigning a task, try to @mention their names. This brings the message into their activity feeds and makes sure they see your post.

#5: Keep Posts Organized 

When creating a post, you can edit it to have a subject line. This makes posts easy to read and spot when scrolling. Also, to avoid having unnecessary posts, encourage staff members to respond to the original post with answers or updates. This keeps everything in one place for easy reference later.

#6: Start or Join a Meeting on the Calendar Tab

Instead of opening the meeting from your Outlook calendar, you can simply open the calendar tab in your Teams app and join the meeting from there. This action removes one extra step!

One more thought – Be Patient

Moving to a new technology takes time and patience as staff members adapt and creates new ways of working individually and together. We frequently referenced our change management resources and training throughout the deployment process and reinforced the changes whenever our staff reverted to old habits. Over time, Teams became the new norm, created new efficiencies and allowed for greater collaboration.

We’re here to help you navigate the rapidly changing work environment. Feel free to contact us with any questions and one of our experts will get back to you.

About the Author

Kaia Swift
Kaia first started working with nonprofits at an internship at an organization that served military families. Since then she has worked with organizations focused on education, cause marketing campaigns, and a government watchdog group. She brings her knowledge of nonprofit... Read More
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