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The Four Best Things About Microsoft Teams I Learned On My First Day

Josh Logozar
August 21, 2020

I've learned a lot during my first few days with Blueshift. Here are a few of the best features of Microsoft Teams that I've come to know and love throughout my remote onboarding process.

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This week, I started a new chapter in my career, joining Blueshift as a member of the team. This is the first time in my life that I have been interviewed, hired, and onboarded completely remotely, and I’m already looking at spending the next several months as a remote new hire.

At Blueshift, we focus on the Microsoft 365 suite of products and services, and use them extensively ourselves, the tool I found most helpful to me immediately was Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams took away all of the stress I would have in these uncertain times by making everyone available to me for questions within a few clicks. Here are a few of the best features I learned in my first day using Teams.

Teams Tab

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams tab.

One of the first things that I noticed, and immediately began to enjoy was the Teams Tab of Teams. It is a unique way of organizing and arranging your groups, and projects, and allows me to focus in on specific topics logically, all of which can be done with a few clicks. This way, there are no lost emails in the clutter, they are all in one place, and you can see the discussion occurring in real-time. This makes adding your ideas, or elaborating on others’ ideas, a much faster, easier process, rather than shuffling through email chain after email chain to get an understanding of what is being discussed and planned.

This may lead to some additional noise in your Teams, but here are our tips and tricks on how to manage it.

Background Effects

While kind of a goofy, silly thing, I love the background effects. With many of us these days working remotely, and not being able to travel, our office background begins to look more and more boring and mundane. Want to make yourself believe you are sitting on a beach, with margarita in hand? Change your background to a nice beach layout, and maybe change to an iced coffee. It is a fast and simple process - just before you join your meeting, just click the Background effects button.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams background effects toggle.

You can select preloaded backgrounds, including house layouts, popular cartoons, and video games. If you don’t like any of those, you can click Add New and upload your own custom background.

Calendar Function

If you are anything like me, this is the most amazing feature you will have! One day they will come out with a magic pen to write all the meetings down in my day planner and automatically populate every relevant calendar I use, but until that day comes, we have the Teams calendar integration.

Screenshot of calendar feature in Microsoft Teams.

The best part? It works directly with your Outlook calendar through Microsoft 365. Create a meeting in Teams? It will show up in Outlook. Make a meeting in Outlook? You guessed it; it’ll show up in Teams! No matter where I am working, I can always stay organized, and never miss another meeting again!

Contact Grouping

Another feature that I found very useful was the contact organization. Of course, there is always the normal Favorite, and then the Other Contacts. What if you wanted to be more specific? What if you want to group all your Project Managers together, or all your SharePoint experts together, so when you have a question, you know exactly where to go? Well, that is as easy as clicking a single button and creating the best-defined lists that work for you.  Want to message a specific group within your team? Here is how to use tags in Teams.

To add contacts, right-click their profile in chat and add them to your favorite contacts in teams. Once added to your Contacts, click on Contacts in your chat tab.

Screenshot of 'contacts' tab in Microsoft Teams.

Now, for the fun part! Getting to decide who belongs in what group! Again, it is as easy as clicking a single button! At the bottom of your contacts pane, you will see a Create a new contact group.

Screenshot of 'create new contact group' button in Microsoft Teams.

Once you have done that, you will get to create a contact group name. Make them as creative or as plain as you would like; whatever may help you stay organized. Once the group has been added, click on the three dots beside the name and click on Add contact to the group. Once you have done all this, it will look similar to this:

Screenshot of contact groups in Microsoft Teams.

And the best part... CAT GIFS!

So, ever been in a conversation, and don’t know what to add? Three clicks, then you can add a cat GIF! It’s the best and most important feature of Teams. Easy as entering a chat, clicking on the GIF tool under the chat bar and searching up cats.

Screenshot of cats gifs in Microsoft Teams.

With that, your conversations will always end on a positive note.

I hope that you were able to pick up a thing or two from the important things I have learned about teams in my first few days at Blueshift. We will get more in-depth as we continue to learn and grow together.

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