8.27 min to readDigital Workplace

Useful features to boost your collaboration in Microsoft Teams

Erik Moll, SoftwareOne blog author
Erik MollGo-to-Market Manager - Americas

Updated March 2023

There’s no doubt about it: Microsoft Teams has become a pillar of today’s hybrid workforce. Organizations around the world are utilizing Teams. The pandemic additionally sparked the need for enhanced communication and productivity.

Microsoft has taken note of users’ needs and continued to evolve and innovate its platform. As a result, a set of wonderful Teams features have been rolled out, and you need to know how to leverage each one. Let’s take a closer look at these useful Teams features, and how your organisation can use each to boost collaboration.

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Virtual breakout rooms

Having a large-scale video call? Now, you can use Teams’ new virtual breakout rooms to divide your meeting into smaller groups. You can create breakout rooms in both Teams meetings and in your Teams channels. This way, you can facilitate discussions more easily and encourage brainstorming sessions with more flexibility than ever before.

If you are organizing the meeting yourself, you can jump between breakout rooms, deliver announcements individually or all at once, and even bring everyone back to the main meeting room. Also, if anyone shares a file in a breakout room, it can be shared in the main meeting room as well and will be available in the chat after the meeting.

Why is this important

Teams meetings are important for communication purposes.  When it comes to team collaboration, the capability to break out a larger group into smaller groups, either for training or brainstorming purposes, is indispensable in getting the desired result and for the meeting to be of value to the attendees themselves.  People typically collaborate more effectively in smaller groups.


Handy meeting experiences

Another great Teams feature is the introduction of end-of-meeting notifications. Now, meeting participants will be notified 5 minutes before their meeting is set to end. Now, you can always ensure you and your team are staying on track and will know to close out the call before running over on time. It is important to note, however, that this function will not end your meeting altogether.

Additionally, there is now a Teams meeting pre-join experience for users. This means the improved and easier discovery of audio, video, and device configurations before users join a meeting. Now, instead of adjusting meeting devices in settings, you can simply change what you need in the pre-join experience.

If you want to create a safe and inclusive meeting environment, meeting organizers can furthermore choose from three chat settings -  "Disabled", preventing the organizer and participants from using the meeting chat. Alternatively, they can be set to "Only during the meeting", allowing participants to send messages only during the meeting and the organizer to send messages at any time. Lastly, the default will be set to "Enabled", allowing chats for all meeting attendees at any time.

Why is this important

Meetings are the perfect opportunity to streamline work, discuss ideas and brainstorm on new projects. To make all these activities land it can help to – in  a first step – minimize barriers to join the meeting and – in a second step - avoid disruptions, so people can focus on their meeting tasks only.

An enhanced calling experience

Teams has developed a few great features for calling, which you should take advantage of as soon as possible. There is for example multiple number dialing, which allows you to view multiple numbers associated with a single contact. This feature will make it easier to initiate a call with that particular contact since you will have every form of contact at your fingertips

Potentially most notably for calling features, there are also live captions available for 1:1 calls. We all know that these days, background noise is abundant. This is also a great feature for those who may be hard of hearing and prefer to support their calls with captioning. Now, you can simply flip on live captioning so you never miss an important note again.

On top of that, Microsoft also provides a global dial-in number to be used from virtually any mobile device or dial-out to help other participants join a meeting with Audio Conferencing.

Why this is important

Productivity is key to us – and in providing multiple number dialing we don’t have to switch platforms and programs anymore to look for contact details and distractions are reduced so our workflows stay efficient.

Collaborate more easily

Have you ever gone to search within your messages, but can’t quite find what you’re looking for? With Teams’ improved search capabilities, you will always be able to find just what you need. The next time you go to search your messages, you will notice that the top 3 messages are generated and ordered by relevance instead of chronologically. This relevance model was designed to learn the most relevant characteristics of a message. Data is collected on active and passive signals, such as who you chat with most often, and then used to deliver you with the most relevant recommendations.

Also, you can access files while offline from your mobile device. Using the Teams mobile app for iOS, you can select any files you will need access to in the future. This way, you can always access a downloaded version of the file right on your phone.

Last but not least, Microsoft allows you to create and share a calendar with specific members and channels. This feature provides all members within the channel, except guest users, visibility to upcoming events.

Why this is important

Knowing who your most relevant contacts are is king to help speed up your workflows. By having relevant conversations at hand easily, sharing calendars within Teams and gaining offline access to important files gives you peace of mind so you can focus on your core activities.


Get approvals much faster

Get approvals much faster by starting your approval flow directly in Teams – either through chat, in a channel conversation, or from the Approval app itself. Just select an approval type, add details, attach files, and choose approvers. Once submitted, approvers are notified and can review and act on the request.

Why this is important

Having the complete approval process in one place can have a huge impact on your and your team performance as time-consuming processes using various tools are not necessary anymore. Furthermore, automated notifications flows support the transparency and speed up the whole approval process.

Check out the latest SharePoint additions

Microsoft wanted to enhance the value of a Teams and SharePoint combination, so several useful features have been rolled out to make users’ experience easier. For better collaboration, try out mini-dashboards available for group content. You can add pages, news, links, and more right into your own dashboard that your team can then use right in their respective channels. This is a great way to streamline your project plan and tie all resources into a single access point.

There will also be a dedicated SharePoint tab within teams that will allow you to add in document libraries, pages, and more to a Teams channel. You can also pin news, lists, and other items. By pinning helpful resources, you can always keep your team members informed of the latest in the organisation.

Why this is important: The most time-consuming process for single team member is often to gather relevant information and search different sources to find what they need. By bringing all the different data points and knowledge resources in one site together, you again reduce project disruption and help to reach objectives in a defined timeframe.

Build custom Power Apps

With Power Apps in Teams, you can develop custom applications for every business need. While Power Apps is not a new feature, there are a few interesting capabilities you will want to try. These low code apps can now be used right in Teams and provide access to your entire tenant. This particular function allows you to provide your whole organisation with custom apps back by Dataverse for Teams. On the whole, if your organisation has yet to leverage this feature, you’re missing out. Be sure to your teams and see where the opportunities lie to build custom apps that can make everyone’s day to day easier.

Stronger management & security

Those working from home are likely to be split between Windows and Mac computers. Now, you can restrict Teams sign-ins on both Windows- and Mac-managed devices. This helps to ensure that employees can’t log in to a different organisation’s tenant using your organisation’s tenant credentials. Through this feature, you can also configure access to users’ personal accounts.

There are a few additional security, compliance, and privacy measures that have been added to Teams as well. For example, only invited users are able to join a meeting directly with the new Lobby Setting. This setting will ensure only the people you invited to your meeting will be able to join directly. Every other user will be sent to the lobby to wait until the host lets them in.

Be sure to check out the Customer Key for Teams. This added layer of encryption is currently available for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive. This extra blanket of security is also available for you to use in Teams.

Why this is important

While cross-device collaboration is crucial to keep your workforce’s productivity high, security threads are an "always-there" risk. Having automated processes in place to support verification and authentication limits the risks of being attacked.

Moving forward

There are a lot of great Teams features available. From better calling capabilities to stronger security, your organisation should take advantage of all that Teams now has to offer. As you move forward, continue to train yourself and your employees on these useful features so that everyone can stay as productive and collaborative as possible. After all, communication is and will remain key as we navigate this new normal.


Ready to keep learning about Teams?

SoftwareOne helps you to be productive with Microsoft Teams. Learn more about how we can help you to increase your business success with Unified Communications and Microsoft Teams.

Ready to keep learning about Teams?

SoftwareOne helps you to be productive with Microsoft Teams. Learn more about how we can help you to increase your business success with Unified Communications and Microsoft Teams.


Erik Moll, SoftwareOne blog author

Erik Moll
Go-to-Market Manager - Americas

Digital Workplace