Using Microsoft Teams for Strategic Employee Communications

Microsoft Teams has rapidly emerged as the most popular tool for collaboration and communication in a world of hybrid and remote work. With around 145 million active users per day, and 250 million active monthly users, Teams has earned its place in the workforce of the future.

Of course, truly unlocking the benefits of Microsoft Teams means learning how to use it as an effective communications tool. Having a strong plan in place for adoption and change management when it comes to Microsoft Teams technology, will give you the best chance to increase your return on investment, and introduce your employees to the widest range of benefits. 

Here’s what you need to know about using Microsoft Teams for employee communications.

Understanding the Full Scope of Microsoft Teams

First, it’s worth understanding exactly what Microsoft Teams can offer. 

The solution started life as an alternative to Microsoft Skype for Business, but it has since evolved into something far more advanced. Teams is now a comprehensive “UCaaS”, or Unified Communications as a Service solution, with a place on the Leader section of the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

Using Teams effectively means understanding its benefits for:

Video Meetings

Microsoft Teams enables meetings in a variety of different ways. You can bring team members together in a shared chat thread for a meeting or host a video conferencing session between your in-house employees and remote staff. Video meetings are rapidly becoming an essential tool for the hybrid workforce, as they help to bring staff together in an intimate shared environment.

You can launch meetings at the click of a button with Teams, and even build extensive Meeting Room environments, with MS Teams Rooms, designed with the assistance of Microsoft partners like Yealink, Poly, and Logitech. These plug-and-play meeting rooms facilitate quick connections between team members wherever they are, complete with intelligent presentations, transcriptions, recording, and more. 

Outlook and email

The written word is still a valuable part of employee communications. Though email isn’t the popular business conversational tool it used to be, it can still have its value. This is why Microsoft Teams integrates seamlessly with Outlook, so employees can access information from their emails, or take conversations into the inbox whenever they choose. 

The integration between Microsoft Teams and Outlook also ensures it’s easy for users to find and keep track of important information and content shared through multiple channels. Teams and Outlook also integrate with calendaring tools, so you can set up more comprehensive meetings between employees, when necessary, too. 

The great thing about the integration between Microsoft Teams and Outlook today is it also comes with access to AI solutions, which help to define the perfect time for a meeting by looking at aligned “free periods” on synced calendars.

Messaging and chat

Speaking of text-based conversations, Microsoft Teams also gives companies another convenient way to interact asynchronously when an email isn’t appropriate. Through Microsoft Teams, you can set up dedicated chat room channels where team members can share a host of different files and content on a daily basis. 

Like email, chat is something that happens “asynchronously”, which means your team members don’t need to be constantly available to take a call if they need help staying on the same page as their colleagues. The messaging and chat functionality on Microsoft Teams also comes with access to various additional features, like the ability to share gifs and @mention people.

Phone calls

The phone call will always be an essential part of strong internal communication. In Microsoft Teams, you can easily set up an audio meeting with a couple of clicks. However, when you need to connect with external team members, you’re going to need a consistent business phone solution.

Microsoft Teams does have its own Business Phone offering, but it’s often lacking on some of the advanced features companies need to stay collaborative. Accessing a direct routing solution instead helps you to access all the communication features you need, with none of the compromises. 

Solutions like Resonate Voice for Teams can connect into your Microsoft Teams instance seamlessly and give you full access to the power of voice.

Setting up Your Microsoft Teams Solution

Once you’ve considered all of the communication options of Microsoft Teams, the next stage is getting your employees on the same page. Everyone in your team needs to be comfortable with the idea of using teams, and familiar with the technology. 

Having a meeting where you outline the benefits of switching to Teams to your staff members can be extremely useful. You can also look into establishing policies that tell your employees when to use certain types of communication, and why. For instance, you might outline when the most appropriate time will be to send an email or arrange a video call.

When implementing your new Teams environment, you’ll also need to ensure you have solutions in place to measure the progress of the adoption and change in your landscape. Using built-in Power BI reporting and Viva Insights within your Microsoft ecosystem is extremely useful. 

Other points to keep in mind include:

  • Create an announcement and news section: You can do this with the Microsoft Viva technology, which allows you to keep all of your team members up-to-date on the latest happenings in your business. Microsoft Viva is also excellent for tracking and improving employee engagement too. 
  • Targeted Comms: If targeted messages are needed, make sure you set up specific channels for these conversations. You can determine exactly who in your team should have access to which channels, which can help to reduce the risk of information overload. It’s even possible to set up secured meetings and channels for sensitive messages. 
  • File storage options: Make sure you have a good idea of where all of the files and information shared between the teams in your Microsoft environment are going to go. Microsoft makes it quick and easy to search through the content previously shared on Teams with its search function. However, you will only store so much information for so long. Check your retention policies regularly. 
  • Training: Employees who haven’t learned how to use video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams, or how to present through Microsoft Teams and PowerPoint might need some extra training. Implementing educational sessions will improve your chances of generating Teams adoption. You can even set up Q&As on your Microsoft Teams landscape or use bots to answer common user questions.
  • Apps: Implementing apps and integrations can enhance the overall functionality of Microsoft Teams and give your employees more scope for better conversations. You can link in tools like the Microsoft Teams Crisis communication app to send out notifications to your team instantly, or design apps specifically for certain kinds of team conversation.

Remember, everyone in your workforce should be aware of the policies you’re using for Teams communication, and how the latest Teams technology works. 

Using Teams for Strategic Announcements

So, Teams can be used as an effective communications tool for strategic employee messages. It can be used to reach all employees or a targeted section of the community. For small and medium-sized businesses, there’s no need to run it with Yammer as an alternative comms channel. Used effectively, it can dramatically reduce email traffic. With integrated reporting, it’s easy to track reach, progress and response.

At Resonate we can help you make this shift by advising on how to effectively use Teams as a communications tool in your company, to build custom PowerApps and to set up the reporting and progress framework. We can also integrate it all with your telephony system. To learn more, please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help.

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