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What exactly is Microsoft Teams and what are its key features?

If your organisation is using Office 365 or considering a move to it, or you just happen to take an interest in the digital workplace, youll have undoubtedly heard about Microsoft Teams. If you havent heard about it, its likely you will soon!

Even though Teams seems to be everywhere there are still many people who havent experienced using it.  If you dont know about Microsoft Teams this article is designed for you. Were going to walk through the tools and cover some of its core features. If you know people who also might benefit from an introduction to Microsoft Teams, then please share this article with them.


What is Microsoft Teams?

Teams is a tool designed for secure team collaboration and communication. It allows employees to have conversations in real-time either via video, voice or by text. You can also share documents and have discussion threads.  Microsoft refers to Teams as group chat software and a place that brings everything together in a shared workspace where you can chat, meet, share files, and work with business apps.

Teams is part of the Office 365 suite but can also be downloaded by individuals for free.  Teams was formally launched in 2017 and has proved to be one of Microsofts most popular and fastest growing business apps. Its success is partly because Microsoft has continued to invest in and evolve the product. Originally designed as a rival to collaboration tool Slack, Teams has continued to expand with an increasing range of capabilities.

Most organisations who are on Office 365 have already implemented Teams and are usually working on driving adoption.


What are the core features of Microsoft Teams?

Teams has a number of core features which are explored below.

Spaces and channels

Microsoft Teams has separate secure spaces, where designated team members can view documents and interact within the space. Within an organisation its likely one employee will be a member of a number of different Teams spaces. Currently in Office 365 when you set up a Group, a Teams space is automatically created for that group.

Within each space there are also separate channels which are usually dedicated to different topics, themes, or sub-teams. Generally, within a channel a  smaller subset of people may view specific documents and follow discussions. You can also set permissions at the channel level so, for example, you might want to invite someone externally to view the contents of one particular channel.

Web conferencing, chat and calls

One of the most powerful capabilities of Teams is its evolution as a unified communications platform allowing for web conferencing, chat and video call capability. Much of this functionality was available as Skype for Business (previously called Lync) but this has now been wrapped into Teams. This means that you can use Teams for sophisticated online meetings using either audio or video. Teams also incorporates useful features like the ability to schedule multiple video chats, share screens and record meetings. Note that you can also call people outside your organisation so Teams can handle both smaller one-to-one calls and much larger team calls.

Documents and discussions

A core part of Teams used by employees are document libraries. The ability to organise documents into folders and share them is powerful, but you can also collaborate on documents in real-time together with your colleagues online. Discussions, which can also be held in real time, also help to eliminate the need for email which is often highly inefficient.


Although not available for every version of Teams you can actually use the tool to live stream events, town halls, conferences and other key broadcasts up to 10,000 people within your organisation. This is great for leadership communications to your whole organisation, or within a division. This capability for Teams is an effective alternative to platforms like Workplace by Facebook where the live streaming capability has proved to be very popular.


Planner is an app within the Office 365 suite which helps with light project and task management, allowing you to create plans, assign tasks and check on progress. This can be a useful addition to help co-ordinate your teamwork, or for specific small -scale projects, although Planner is not a fully-blown project management tool.

Integrations with other apps

One of the greatest things about Teams is that you can integrate other apps within it, not only across Office 365, but also popular platforms and apps. There is an extensive store of ready-made apps, add-ons and connectors that allow integrations that can let users complete simple tasks, view information, get updates and alerts and even integrate chatbots. You can also create your own custom integrations, meaning Teams can become a convenient platform to  carry out your everyday work and interact with the wider digital workplace.

Teams customisation

As well as integrating your own apps into Teams you can also customise Teams to make it work in ways specific for your organisation. For example, weve done some work with our clients to automate business processes by customising Teams and SharePoint Onlne.

And lots more!

There lots of thing about Teams we havent covered including private discussions, notifications, search, two-factor authentication and more. And as weve already said, these capabilities are only set to expand.


Want to discuss Teams?

We hope youve found our summary of Teams and its key features helpful. Its an exciting and extensive tool that is a key feature of many organisations digital workplaces. Of course, its not perfect and it can seem complex at first, but many users grow to find it very useful.

If youd like to discuss how you can use Teams in your organisation, then why not get in touch? Wed love to hear from you!

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