About Microsoft Teams

What is Teams?

Teams is a chat-based tool that helps us work together even when we are not physically in the same room.

It enables us to instantly message colleagues for a private chat, or multi-person group chat, similar to Sametime (the chat facility we can access through our email software - Lotus Notes).

Voice calls can now be made by the click of a button to anyone else who is using Teams without the need for a telephone.

If you have a camera on your laptop or device, you'll also be able to make video calls to colleagues using Teams.

Why we have introduced Teams

Teams has been rolled out during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to help us to communicate easier - especially as many of us are working from home.

As it's available to all office based staff a little earlier than we'd planned, it's a limited version. We are only enabling the chat, voice call and video call features.

There's much more that Teams can offer us to help with teamworking, such as document sharing and creating teams, but we are unable to support these at present, so please do not try to use these features for now.

Once things return back to normal, we'll return to our plan to roll out the full version later in the year.

Data storage

Please note: when we roll out the full version of Teams we'll have to remove all the data stored in the system. This means any typed conversations will be lost.

Make sure that you back up any information that you need to keep by transferring it into the correct system, or to a separate document on the network. This will mean any decision making can be evidenced and is also for audit purposes.

Please be aware that all information in Teams is still subject to council policies and procedures. This means it can be checked and may be used in information requests, such as freedom of information or subject access requests.

What Teams can be used for

Group chat

Think of Microsoft Teams as a new office block. Everyone in the council with access to Microsoft Teams works in that block.

In that block are many rooms, and you can walk in and out of those rooms to talk to colleagues as and when you want. These are like the group chats in Teams.

You can create a group chat whenever you want to discuss a common topic with a number of colleagues, for instance if you are working on a specific project together, and what you say in that chat is only visible to the people who have been invited to participate.

Find out how to start a group chat

Private chat

Sometimes you only want to chat with one person, similar to typing a text or catching up with someone at the coffee machine. You can do this in Teams too.

Chats with individuals can only be seen by the two of you, and the great thing is that Teams remembers the conversation so you can refer back or pick up on it next time.

Find out how to start a private chat

Making a call from your laptop or device

If you need to speak to someone, but you're not at your desk with your phone to hand, Teams can help. You can make one-to-one or group calls with anyone at the council directly from a chat.

These calls are private and won't appear in any team conversation. However we'd recommend that you have some headphones with a microphone to hand if you are in a busy place.

Find out how to make a call

Virtual meetings using video

Sometimes things just work better when you can meet face to face, all in one place, and see facial expressions and body language. Video chat is just like hosting a board meeting from the comfort of your desk.

It can be with just one person, or up to 50 people.

Please note: as we have rolled out a limited version of teams for a temporary period during the Coronavirus pandemic, you are not able to schedule meetings using Teams. However you will be able to do this when we roll out the full version later in the year.

Find out how to start a video chat.

Other handy features

Activity feed

The activity feed (accessed in the left tool panel in Teams) helps you keep track of when you have been mentioned in a chat. This means someone has used an @ symbol and your name to draw your attention to something specific and they may want you to reply.

A notification like this will remain in your feed for 14 days.

What's next

Find out how to get started with Teams.

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