Managing Clutter with Microsoft Teams

Email has long been the be all, end all of corporate communications. But how many times have you struggled to follow a convoluted email chain, had someone derail conversation in the middle of a thread, or simply not known in which folder you should file a particular email?

There’s a reason why inbox zero has become a meme.

Email is bulky, cluttered, and has quickly become an outdated means of communication. However, until Teams was released, there weren’t many good alternatives. Previously, Microsoft offered Skype for Business, Yammer and Groups, each of which serves a distinct purpose. Bridging the gap between instant messages in Skype for Business and memorialized conversations in email, Microsoft launched Teams to create a truly intelligent communications platform.

Teams is here

Teams is Microsoft’s vision for the future of intelligent communications, a concept which aims to transform calling and meeting experiences and enable users to be more efficient. By consolidating platforms, users will have more productive meetings and better manage their everyday communications. To this end, Microsoft is enabling Skype for Business capabilities within Teams and, over time, will sunset the Skype for Business client.

Join our webinar on May 2 to learn the best ways to manage data, user access and security features in Microsoft Teams.

The idea behind Teams is to streamline collaboration and clean up your inbox.  Many organizations face an abundance of different tools, from project management software to file storage apps to tracking meeting notes. As these services notify you of updates and changes, they add clutter and noise in your inbox, making it more difficult to sift through and see what’s relevant (and what’s not) and what conversations are related. As a separate service outside of Outlook, Teams organizes conversations, and allows you to divide them out based on different topics.

How you create these teams is based in part on your company culture, and which groups or departments work together. There’s not a right or wrong way to create these teams. It’s easy for end users, given appropriate administrative permissions, to create a new team, add channels to them, and bring various information into them as well.

Transitioning from email to Teams

Email is often the first and last thing we check during our workday, so it’s understandable that you may receive some resistance to changing this ingrained behavior. But helping users shift from their inbox-focused world to living in Teams doesn’t have to be difficult or painful.

One of the most compelling attributes of Teams is a feature called persistent chat. Within each channel, there’s a tab specifically for conversations. This is where you communicate with other members of your team by sending messages either to the group or to specific people. (See our tip below on how to make sure an individual team member never misses your message.) 

Persistent chat provides a historical record of conversations that any user in that team can access. Rather than relying on email – which can be easily missed, accidentally deleted, or mistakeningly sent to the wrong person – posting a message in Teams ensures that your whole group is on the same page and everyone has access to important information. With persistent chat, it’s easy to go back and reference previous conversations, and also provides a simple way to answer questions one user may have that also pertain to the rest of the group. 

What if you post a message and someone says they didn’t see it? That’s where notifications come in. Notifications in Teams are entirely customizable, so while users are getting accustomed to relying less heavily on email, they can still elect to receive email notifications of Teams updates. As they get more comfortable with Teams, and find themselves using it more often, they can adjust these notifications to be more infrequent so they cut down on email clutter.

Changing notifications is as easy as going to your profile and clicking “Notification.” There they’ll be able to select whether they want banner and/or email notifications, as well as the email frequency. Email notifications are a great starting point to bringing users into Teams.

Quick tricks for Teams

In the Conversations tab, you can @mention anyone who’s part of your team, and as your message is sent, the person you mentioned will receive a pop up notification in the right corner of their screen. They then have the ability to reply right within that notification.
By clicking on the small flag icon, you can easily save a particular message from a conversation as a sticky note saved in my saved conversations. You can access it by clicking your profile in the bottom left corner, and going to “Saved.”
How many times have you seen email chains where everyone is thanking someone else? Rather than clutter your inbox, you can simply “like” a message by clicking the thumbs up symbol, and the person is notified of your action.
Say you’re designing new corporate t-shirts and are deciding between black and grey. Rather than email everyone and ask them to get back to you with their preference, you can quickly find out via Teams by adding Polly, a free poll app designed by Microsoft. Integrating into Teams in a matter of clicks, you can ask your question, quickly get answers, and keep the noise out of your inbox.

Increasing adoption of Teams

Here at COMPAREX, we’ve been using Teams for several months and have seen a large uptick in our end users’ adoption of the platform. It’s helped us bridge geographic boundaries, strengthen our communication within various workgroups, and notably cut down on email. As a global company, getting out of the inbox-centered world and moving conversations to Teams has optimized our real-time collaboration, not only through the chat function but through the file storage that’s native within Teams.

Even as Teams becomes more widely adopted, you may find that you’re still living in an inbox-centered world. That’s okay – there’s a time and a place for email, of course. And as more of the Skype for Business functionality becomes embedded in Teams, it will be even easier (and more essential) to encourage end users to jump on the Teams train.

Join our webinar on May 2 to learn the best ways to manage data, user access and security features in Microsoft Teams.

If you have any questions, fill out the form below and a local expert will be in touch soon.

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