Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Best Practices: 15 To Get You Started

Explore 15 vital Microsoft Teams practices, including team creation, notifications, meeting recording, background images, messaging users on Slack and Webex, app integration, web app use, chat and channel deletion, and out-of-office messages for collaboration.
Dominic Kent
Dominic Kent is a content marketer specializing in unified communications and contact centers.
Best practices for the Microsoft Teams desktop and mobile apps

To use Microsoft Teams effectively, it’s important to adhere to Microsoft Teams best practices.

Whether you’re starting fresh or a Teams pro, there’s always something new to learn in Microsoft Teams.

In this post, we’ve curated 15 Microsoft Teams best practices to help you use Microsoft Teams effectively.

Microsoft Teams best practices included:

  1. How to create a team in Microsoft Teams
  2. Microsoft Teams best practices for channel names
  3. How to change your password in Microsoft Teams
  4. Managing notifications in Teams
  5. What is the best way to organize Microsoft Teams?
  6. Appropriately using likes and reactions
  7. How to record on Microsoft Teams
  8. Background images for Microsoft Teams
  9. Microsoft Teams best practices for messaging Google Chat users
  10. Add some Microsoft Teams integrations
  11. Using the Microsoft Teams web app
  12. How to delete chats in Microsoft Teams
  13. How to delete channels in Microsoft Teams
  14. Microsoft Teams out of office

1 – How to create a team in Microsoft Teams

Before you create a team, make the decision whether your topic should be a group chat or needs a dedicated team.

Jacob Simon, Unified Collaboration Analyst at Foot Locker, says:

“Know the limitations of chats and when to create a proper team.”

Group chats are ideal for gathering people together to discuss something one-off.

For example, when you need to catch up on a project but don’t need to flag your activity to the rest of the team.

You might be part of the design team working on a new graphic for a new product. The engineers don’t need to be part of your conversation as you walk through your new color palette.

Create a team when you have a set topic that needs collaboration from many parties.

For ongoing projects, or for private department breakout areas, teams are superior to group chats. Benefit from gathering your whole team in a dedicated area and use message threads and other team-based functionality to your advantage.

Here’s how to create a team in Microsoft Teams:

  1. Select Teams on the left-hand pane
  2. Choose Join or Create a Team
  3. Select Create a New Team
  4. Choose Build from Scratch or  Create from existing group
  5. Choose Private, Public, or Org-wide
  6. Add a name and description then click Create
  7. Add members from your organization using their name
  8. Invite external guests using their email address
  9. Add further channels to the “General” channel which gets created for you

To customize your channels, check out this video below.

2 – Microsoft Teams best practices for channel names

When you start creating teams and channels, you may have an idea of what a “good” name looks like.

It might take some iterating but once you’ve settled on a format, the most important thing you can do is to communicate the naming convention for your Microsoft Teams deployment.

For example, you might decide to keep things simple like having a General team and a channel per department.

A General channel in Microsoft Teams

This example is easy to stick to. But, when other users have access to create (and name) teams and channels, your guide will come in handy.

If members of the marketing team can create breakout channels for content marketing, product marketing, and email marketing, you have three users creating new channels.

They could be left to name channels as they like but you may need those channel names at a later date. Another example is time-sensitive channel names.

Badal Ratra, a frequent contributor in the Microsoft Teams community forum, asked this question:

As a few people pointed out, dates sound like a good idea for a channel name but become impossible to manage and are out of date if your channel is used later than this date.

You should also think about the character length of your channel names.

When Teams is used on mobile or a minimized browser version, only the first few characters will be visible.

Renaming Microsoft Teams channel names

Changing a channel name at a later date is possible.

Team owners and members can change the name of a channel by clicking the three-dot icon to the right of the channel name, then Edit channel.

Change the name of a channel in Microsoft Teams

If you don’t see the Edit this channel option, that means that a team owner has changed the permissions that members have.

For those looking to change the name of the General channel, this is something Microsoft locks down as your original and default channel.

3 – How to change your password in Microsoft Teams

It is best practice to change your password frequently. Your organization may have rules for how long this period is. If they don’t, for maximum security, make sure you change your password every month.

To change your password in Teams, follow these instructions:

  1. Sign in to your Microsoft account
  2. Select Security
  3. Choose Password security
  4. Enter your current password followed by a new password
  5. Enter your new password again to make sure you chose the password you were aiming for
  6. Hit Save

If you have forgotten your Teams password, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the login screen on Teams
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Choose Forgot your password?
  4. Check your email for a temporary password
  5. Follow the steps outlined to choose a new password

4 – Managing notifications in Teams

Heather Bicknell, Product Marketing Manager at Lakeside Software, says there are three key things to look out for when it comes to balancing notifications:

  1. Tune your notifications if you’re suffering from notification fatigue – only turn on notifications for the channels that are most important. The rest can be checked on an ad-hoc basis.
  1. Use team @ tagging sparingly, especially for large groups. If you ping people too frequently in items that don’t concern them, they’ll start to ignore you. The object of @ tagging becomes redundant when overused.
  1. Create new teams and channels to avoid sprawl and unnecessary complexity. If something feels off-topic in a particular channel, it probably belongs in its own channel with the right team members.

5 – What is the best way to organize Microsoft Teams?

There is no defined right way to organize Teams. Each user is free to use Teams as they wish and with Microsoft Teams best practices they may have picked up themselves.

That said, here are four Microsoft Teams best practices for organization:

1 – Use chats for one-to-one messages and group chats not pertaining to a specific topic. Group chats for specific topics should take place in channels.

By using chats, you only gain the attention of the specific person or people you wish to chat with.

Other members of your team(s) can carry on their day uninterrupted.

Direct messaging in Microsoft Teams

2 – Use channels for collaboration on a specific project, topic, campaign, etc. By moving these types of messages outside of chats, you can utilize files, integrations, and any apps you’ve associated with that channel.

When you have a specific channel for each piece of work, campaign, or project you’re working on, all the chat history, meeting history, and files pertaining to the topic are housed within the same channel.

A collaborative channel in Microsoft Teams

This makes access and searching more productive.

3 – Make Teams your work environment, not your communications environment.

Built into Teams is the ability to store and work on most of your Microsoft 365 apps like Word and PowerPoint.

Files in a Microsoft Teams channel

Rather than switching between your Microsoft apps (Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc), you can launch your latest board report or blog post without leaving Teams – or even leaving the channel.

4 – Use message interoperability to chat with people on other platforms like Google Chat.

If you’re staying in Teams for chat, meetings, and working on documents, it’s likely you want to stay in Teams for everything.

So, why should you have to close down Teams and fire up another app because your colleagues don’t use Teams?

Connect Google Chat to Teams using Mio to enable cross-platform messaging.

Learn more about Mio here.

6 – Appropriately using likes and reactions

Unlike on social media, where likes indicate agreement or endorsement, use likes to confirm you have read a message or actioned a task.

For example, if a member of your team asks if you’ve completed the billing run for this week, a simple like confirms to them it’s complete.

Reactions, on the other hand, should be used for agreement and endorsement. That’s why there are so many! You can like, love, smile, be shocked, or express sadness or anger at something a team member has said.

Reactions on Microsoft Teams

7 – How to record on Microsoft Teams

If you are hosting a Teams meeting for training or an interview, it is best practice to record this meeting.

Once recorded, you can playback both video and audio components of your meeting. These can be used for marketing materials, training videos, podcasts, or just listening back for a key quote from the person you interviewed.

During a Teams meeting, hit the More button and select Record and transcribe > Start recording.

You will know your meeting is recording as Teams will display this message at the top of your meeting.

To download or playback your recording, you have two options.

You can either navigate to your meeting in Teams. Here, you have the option to listen or watch back the meeting within your Teams client.

Your second option is to log in to Microsoft Stream. In Stream, you have access to a list of all Teams meeting recordings. You can download, playback, edit, and share from Stream.

Microsoft Teams recordings stored in Stream

8 – Microsoft Teams background images

If you’re working from home, or in a sensitive environment, use Microsoft Teams background images to hide your background.

In Microsoft Teams, you have several options to hide your background.

  1. Blur your background

To do this:

  • Click on your audio and video settings screen when you join a meeting
  • Choose the ellipses “…” for more options
  • Tap on Blur my background
  1. Use a Teams background image

To do this:

  • Tap the … when you’re in a Teams meeting
  • Click “Show background effects”
  • Choose your image from the default options
  • Click preview to test it out
  • Click apply to save your background image
Selecting a background video or enabling effects on Microsoft Teams

For something more advanced, and to stand out in front of your boss, colleagues, or clients, you can opt for a third-party background.

Using a third party background on Microsoft Teams

To download a selection of premium Microsoft Teams backgrounds, you can choose from 300 high-quality images and videos here.

9 – Microsoft Teams best practices for messaging Google Chat users

If you have colleagues who use Google Chat instead of Microsoft Teams, what is your current experience?

Do you switch to Google Chat every time you need to chat with them? Maybe you make them switch to Teams even though they use Google Chat all day?

What you could be doing instead is sending cross-platform messages from Teams to Google Chat.

With Mio, you can sync the channels and/or users you wish to be able to message cross-platform.

Once connected, you can do things like:

  • Send cross-platform channel messages
  • Send cross-platform DMs
  • Edit/delete messages
  • Post message threads
  • Use emojis and GIFs
  • Send files

Anything you’d normally do to Teams to Teams can now happen Teams to Google Chat.

You may also like: How to Connect Google Chat and Microsoft Teams in 2024

10 – Add some Microsoft Teams integrations

Microsoft Teams is full of pre-built apps to make the Microsoft Teams end user experience better for users of Office 365 apps like SharePoint and Excel.

It could be the reason you’re using Teams in the first place. In fact, 59% of Office 365 users are using Microsoft Teams.

Outside of the Office 365 suite, there are tons of Microsoft Teams integrations made to help you use Teams as your primary tool for work.

Tools like these help users combine their Office 365 and [any other tool] experience into a single pane of glass:

  • Mio
  • Zoom
  • Cisco Webex Meetings
  • Cacoo
  • LucidChart
  • Mural
  • Wrike
  • Givitas
  • Mindmeister
  • Jell
  • Meistertask
  • Soapbox
  • ServiceNow
  • Hive
  • Woobot
  • Any many, many more.

11 – Using the Microsoft Teams web app

If you find yourself in an area where you don’t have enough bandwidth to load your Teams desktop app, or you are using a shared computer that doesn’t have Teams installed, try using the Microsoft Teams web app.

Here, you have access to most of the features you have in your desktop app. The major difference? There’s no download and you only need your browser CPU to start using Teams.

Go to https://teams.microsoft.com to access the Microsoft Teams web app. Click Use the web app instead so you don’t start a new download of Microsoft Teams.

Download the Microsoft Teams desktop app

You can use the same credentials as you do your desktop app.

Alternatively, you can use the Microsoft Teams mobile app. If you are in between desktops or don’t have space to get your laptop out on a train, the Teams mobile app allows you to keep track of conversations in your teams and channels.

The Microsoft Teams mobile app

12 – How to delete chats in Microsoft Teams

One of the Microsoft Teams best practices that sounds a little odd is deleting chats.

If you’ve sent the wrong information or changed your mind on an idea, you can edit or delete chats in Microsoft Teams.

All you need to do is find the message you wish to delete and click the three-dot icon.

Choose Delete if your message is no longer relevant. If you made a typo or wish to change your message, click the pencil icon to the right of the three-dot icon.

Once you have deleted your message, you will see a confirmation message where your message was before.

13 – How to delete channels in Microsoft Teams

It is best practice to delete channels in Microsoft Teams if they become unused.

Rather than subjecting users to a channel list full of unused channels, you can choose to to delete them.

If you need to delete an entire channel in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft provides simple instructions to do so.

You will need to be logged into the desktop version or Android version of Teams to do so. As of August 2020, iOS does not support channel deletion.

To delete a channel, click the three-dot icon to the right of the channel name. Then, click Delete channel.

Deleting a channel in Microsoft Teams

When you delete a channel, you will lose all it’s contents and conversation history.

Why can’t I delete a channel in Teams?

There are several reasons you may not be able to delete a channel in Microsoft Teams. These include:

  • Admin rights for deletion (contact your Teams admin)
  • Retention policy does not allow for channel deletion (SharePoint settings)
  • Private channel (only creator of channel or admin can delete)

If none of the above work, it could be a possible bug in Teams. Try reporting to Microsoft via your Office 365 portal.

14 – Microsoft Teams out of office

This Microsoft Teams best practice is much like the world of email. If you’re not available because you’re on vacation or traveling, your co-workers need to know.

To set your Microsoft Teams out of office, follow these steps:

  1. Click your profile image in the top right-hand corner
  2. Choose Set status message
  3. Type your out of office message
  4. To redirect people to other co-workers in your absence, you can @ mention them
  5. Check show when people message me
  6. Select the time period you wish the message to last for
  7. Click Done.

These Microsoft Teams best practices should be enough to keep you going for a little while.

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