Etiquette in Microsoft Teams
I really ❤ Microsoft Teams. It’s a great way to streamline communication, keep up-to-speed with what’s happening in your company and declutter all the information you receive on a daily basis. To make Microsoft Teams work, however, you might need to set up some basic guidelines to work with: A set of 10 etiquette ‘rules’ for Microsoft Teams!
1: Manage expectations on ‘time to reply’
Microsoft Teams can easily replace email as your primary method of communication, but ofcourse it’s important to set some basic rules on what to expect in terms of how long it should take to reply to a message. You can of course do this on a ‘global’ level, with a company-wide standard on what people should expect. You can also set this in the description of team. ‘Team for people working on the XXX-project. Replies usualy within the same business day’ as a description for a team should look okay, don’t you think?
2: If you want someone to reply, @-mention them
The amount of information in MS Teams, especially once it’s widely adopted in your organisation, can be staggering. Your message might go unnoticed. So, if you really need someone to read or reply to your message, @-mention them. You can compare this with the to and cc-field in your email client: if you want someone to take action, you put them in the to-field. If it’s just a ‘fyi’ message, you place them in cc. If you place a message you want the entire team or channel to be notified about, you can @-mention the team or channel name.
3: Fewer messages == fewer notifications
I don’t know about you, but notifications can realy break my workflow. I’m right in the middle of getting something done and then a notification pops up… Be aware that when you send a one-on-one chat message within Teams, every message wil be a notification for the receiving party. So, don’t just send a single 👏, ‘hi’ or ‘are you free’, followed by the real question in the next message, but do it all in one message. This way, the disturbance for the receiving party will be minimized. Oh, and the ‘are you free’ question? You shouldn’t bother with that. You can see by just looking at the presenec status ;)
4: Reply within a thread (seriously, MS, fix the UI already!)
I must admit: most people don’t even realize they’re ‘doing it wrong’. This one is mostly a big fault in the UI of the Teams client that I wish Microosft would fix: the reply-section below a message is just to close to the ‘new thread’ textbox. If you don’t look closely, you might just post your reply as a completely new message in stead of replying in the thread. Keeping your threads as one piece is important for the ease of understanding the communication in a team. All those lose replies posted as a new thread will soon clutter the view within your channel. You won’t even know what the ‘Okay, I will look into this!’ was even about to start with. Seriously, Microsoft, please make it easier for people to see when they’ll reply to a thread, or post a new message!
5: Download the mobile app. Just do it.
For email, people have been using their mobile devices to read and write for years. Why not use it for teams? It’s a perfect way to keep up with your messages while commuting or in a few lost minutes. When you learn to quickly scan your messages (see tip #9!) you can save yourself a lot of time by just going over them a few times a day, so you can stay focussed the rest of the day. Communication is key, but do it at times that suite you best!
6: Use the DnD-feature
When using the mobile client, use the do not disturb-feature. Using this feature to mute notifications for (for example) chats and @-mentions, you can keep a good work-life balance. Just set the hours you do not want to disturbed (evenings, weekends, you know what you want best) to keep your mind of work-hazzle on those moments. Going on a holiday? Set the DnD to mute notifications for your entire vacation! If you are one of those people (like me ;)) that wants to keep an eye on work while on vacation, you can always open the app when you want and scan for messages. You just won’t get notified.
7: Make your teams public, closed teams should be an exception.
This goes without saying. Teams should be public and communication should be visible for everyone in the organisation. Sharing is caring! The time of siloed information is long past us. Of course, there will be some exceptions for higher management, finance or HR. Some information is not for everyone. But most information is. Why would you want someone to reinvent the wheel on project X, while someone already did the same in project Y? By keeping teams open, information can flow freely through your company and you can truly start collaborating!
8: Don’t go overboard when creating teams (or channels!)
As a follow-up on tip #7: before creating a team, check if no team with the same purpose already exists. Now that you have all these open teams, you can find them easily. If no team already exists, ask yourself if you need a new team for what you’re trying to achieve or if you can do whatever it is you want to do in an existing team, perhapse in a new channel. Less teams means less notifications and actions, remember? Keep it simple. Within a team, don’t create too much channels. Keep this separation basic. Each channel has their own ‘files’ structure, so creating more channels means creating more possible locations for your files. Where do you place what? Of course, the same goes for tabs within your channels. Make it easily to find the right information, by keeping the seperation between channels a logical one.
9: Learn how to use the ‘activity’ view
This one might be a real life-saver: Use. The. Activity. View. You can find it in the top-left corner of your client. The activity view has several built-in filters, to display all messages you where @-mentioned in, all messages you haven’t read yet, etc. If you learn yourself to use this view, this can be perfect way to start your day. Using the right filter, skimm through the messages you should really follow up on or use the unread messages filter to read up on stuff while you’re on the train. This way, you can be sure to always be up to speed with what’s happening!
10: Use MS Teams for everything
As a final tip: Use Teams for everything. Add tabs to your Teams and channels with relevant information, like PowerBI data, relevant websites, Trello-boards, etc. Use Teams for you meeting needs. Meetings held within a Team are automatically recorded and processed through Microsoft Stream, so people can rewatch them later. Stream takes care of automatic captioning, so you can even search for specific keywords within those recordings. This might come in really handy for people who weren’t able to attend the meeting. With Teams ‘live broadcast’ you can use Teams for you town-hall or organisation wide meetings. The more you use Teams for all your needs, the more people will start seeing Teams as their primary source of communication!