Less commonly used features in Microsoft Teams

Excited about new features coming to Microsoft Teams?

There was certainly a lot of hype during , and post, Microsoft Ignite.

While reviewing some of the new features announced at Ignite I came across some older content with tips and some suggested features of Microsoft Teams. As I clicked through I realised that there were a few I hadn’t seen before, and some I wasn’t currently using.

This made me think about how we all get across a new application and take on what we need to continue our day to day work. It’s about “what do I need to know right now?”. With certainly less focus on “how can I get the most out of this tool?”. People focus on keeping the lights on and don’t then later spend time to extend use and learning.

As I was considering how to use this content in a current Champions Program, I did a survey first to check if people in that organisation were aware of what I am calling some ‘uncommon features’ in Microsoft Teams.

The results in that organisation were consistent with my own experience, which wasn’t a big surprise.

This response made me curious about going broader, so I put it out in Twittersphere.

By creating a quick survey (I love Microsoft Forms!) online with a link anyone could access and tweeting, I had 163 responses. Thank you to all of the people who took a quick moment to complete it.

My first learning — I live in a bubble of Office 365 focused techies, be they MVP’s, Office 365 focused consultants and IT professionals. No issue with that, it was just interesting to see the narrow range of respondents or type of people in my network. See below:

Even though this seemed like an expert group, or certainly more savvy than general users, the results were still similar.

Firstly the features used regularly from a much more common list are as follows:

I love that it’s a solid yes across many of the above features. And to be honest it’s not a big surprise there is less use of announcements or Live Events. These features are not part of your daily work, unless you are in a specific area like communication, change or marketing. As for booking meetings in a channel, I think that can really depend on if you are a solo consultant, if you work in a team environment and many other factors. So again, not a feature that raises a flag if less utilised.

So what about those less common features — how do they rate with a more tech savvy group of respondents?

While I am aware not all features are things you require every day, or even weekly. There is though certainly room for some learning.

Me personally, the key features I haven’t probably taken time to include into my Microsoft Teams repertoire are bookmarking posts, filtering on @mentions, or hashtagging. 
Hashtagging is something I think many people would argue isn’t required because you can search key words, however I had a fabulous tip passed on from Tracy Van Der Schyff recently that if we continue to hashtag, then searching with the specific hashtag does reduce results to that hashtag instead of where that word is among all the threads in Teams, which can be super useful.

Subject headings are something I personally use all the time. It’s so handy to have posts stand out. I highly recommend it.

Shortcut commands… hmm. To me that seems more natural for a technical person, but hey I’ll give them a go.

For anyone who wants to know more about shortcut commands head here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Keyboard-shortcuts-for-Microsoft-Teams-2e8e2a70-e8d8-4a19-949b-4c36dd5292d2

Notify when available replaces the ‘tag for status change’ we had in Skype for Business. Since this appeared in Teams it has been a big one of mine. It is handy to have the ability to have the ‘stalker feature’ available in Teams rather than constantly checking if someone is finally off that call or out of DND.

Forms and Live events are again not something we use every day but great to have the option. This year I have run a number of Live Events for showcasing key ways of working globally for a specific customer. I had to rapidly get across the nuances and get my facilitation smooth. Live Events has a few small things that can trip you up. It can take a couple of calls to master.

When we compare side by side, as expected the use across these uncommon features is higher in the technical group (they are on the left):

There is still room for improvement in both groups.




If you have Champions, teach them and they can spread through their internal network.

And what about the other topics?

I would say that since there are many consultants in the twitter sample, it’s no surprise many of us work with external stakeholders. This is potentially lower if our sample was across a single organisation. The ability to have guests in Microsoft Teams certainly has opened up a new way to collaborate, giving us such a great space to communicate and share files.

And what about your contacts?

When we move users from Skype for Business (SfB) to Microsoft Teams, the ability to quickly access a list of contacts and see presence or sort into groups is actually something I have found has the greatest complaints. Yes, we don’t have that quick window with a list of colleagues like we did with SfB, but once they move beyond some initial frustration I think the general feel is that Teams is worth the initial discomfort.

I think it’s no surprise that the most common apps used within a Team are OneNote and Planner, along with SharePoint or websites.


Personally, I get great satisfaction working with groups within a single organisation showing how to share notebooks and access in a Team, or capture actions in Planner. These are such great tools.

This was a great exercise to validate some assumptions. And a key learning here is, we can all use with extending our knowledge. Isn’t this the ongoing challenge of Office 365! 

 As apps and features advance and enhance its an ongoing issue. How do we not only implement new technology, but increase adoption and extend or reinforce over time.

In my experience, most Microsoft Teams implementations run a single phase of training where a small percentage of knowledge is absorbed. People do what they need to in order to continue doing their job. There will be some gradual future advancement, but without reinforcement and further knowledge sharing adoption stalls. Spread the word!

Use communication or champions to keep showing others what is possible and help everyone grow.

Try something new today, show someone else and think about how you will absorb future enhancements outside the main hype, and be an ongoing absorb-er of change.

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