Microsoft Teams: our essential tech tips and guide

by | Mar 12, 2020 | Blog, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Teams

Seventy-five percent of employees rate collaboration as very important to their own success as well as the success of the wider business.

For many businesses, using the wrong software or not upskilling staff sufficiently hampers both collaboration and productivity. Ultimately, this hurts the business’ bottom line and means they needlessly leave money on the table.

Modernising your IT infrastructure and getting the most out of tools like the Microsoft Teams app is a key part of the solution, but it takes a bit of know-how and experience to get it right.

For financial service providers, there’s also the worry that working to improve collaboration can require spending money, which hurts profit margins. Fortunately, the benefits of using Teams effectively can far outweigh the investment in deploying and mastering it.

So, let’s explore what Microsoft Teams is, how it works, and look in detail how your staff can get more out of it.

What is Microsoft teams and how does it work?

As part of the suite of applications in Office 365, Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace for internal and external teams. Using one window, the communication application is designed to enhance teamwork at all levels of your organisation.

It’s easy for staff to access Teams whether accessing it via a desktop or mobile application, or a web browser. This makes it perfect for distributed work teams, such as financial services firms merging their business or developing more offices across the world.

What are the benefits of using Microsoft Teams?

‘With Microsoft Teams, financial services employees can accelerate their individual and group productivity to improve customer experiences, resolve business challenges and drive efficiencies across common business processes.’

– The Microsoft ‘empower employees guide

Improving communication and collaboration is the key pull of Microsoft Teams, and, as an accelerant of productivity, it can help any financial services firm drive meaningful growth.

The integration with other Microsoft services means that it also enables your users to seamlessly switch between chats, calls, document editing and sharing, all whilst remaining secure. Naturally, this improves productivity and efficiency.

An added benefit is that Teams enables your business to collaborate with parties or clients outside of your organisation. That’s because external users can use Teams through invitation, without the need for extra licenses.

What can Microsoft Teams do?

Alongside the instant messaging, calling and meeting properties, Microsoft Teams offers one-window functionality. This means that users can create, edit and collaborate on documents saved in SharePoint, OneNote and OneDrive without having to navigate through various windows.

Calendars and Microsoft Planner can also be accessed from the application, meaning that meetings can be organised, and projects managed, from the centralised hub.

Further to this, Microsoft Teams can be integrated with external applications such as Salesforce and MailChimp, all accessed directly from the app. Connecting tools like Zapier, means it’s easy to connect Teams with many of the other tools commonly used by financial services firms.

Getting started

If you have already used applications such as SharePoint to improve team collaboration and communication, there will be a few new features to get used to. Now, let’s run through some of the key Microsoft Teams terminology and features to help get you started:

Navigation and different parts of Teams

The buttons on the left-hand side of your screen will let you navigate your way through the Teams you are a part of, your activity feed, chats, meetings, projects and files.


A team is a group of people, conversations and files, found in one place.

Upon clicking on the ‘Teams’ button, you will be able to view all of the teams or channels that you are a part of. They are likely to be split between your firm’s departments, projects, product launches or social elements such as company events.

The order that they appear in can be changed by dragging and dropping. Users can search for a specific team and join with a code, or they can create a new team.

Marketing tab in Microsoft Teams App


A channel is a dedicated discussion belonging to the (aforementioned) range of departments and projects.

Every team will have various channels. By clicking on each channel, you will be able to view the conversations that have taken place and files and documents that have been shared.

Detailed tab in Microsoft Teams App


Chats can take place as group conversations or as private one-on-one messages. Conversations are organised by date, before being threaded.

If you feel like you want to liven up a chat, fear not! Along with sharing files, you can send emojis, GIFs and stickers.

When replying in a conversation, replies will be attached to a specific thread. To mention and notify a specific user, you can @ them. To notify everyone in a team @team can be used, or @channel lets everyone who has favourited that channel know that your message has been posted.

Reply function in Microsoft Teams App


‘Activity’ found on the left-hand side of the screen is a general feed that displays all your notifications and a round-up of the happenings in the channels that you follow


By adding and sharing files, other members of the channel can either view the document or collaborate and work on it with you in real time.

Upload feature in Microsoft Teams App


Adding a tab means that you can add a short cut to an application or file. Examples of these include OneNote, Planner, SharePoint, Excel, Power BI or even specific websites.

All tabs available in Microsoft Teams App


The search functionality in Teams allows you to search for specific people, items, documents and application, before launching them from the results.

You can use the ‘filter’ option to refine your results.


You can manage your profile settings under the icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen. In here, settings can be changed, a profile picture can be added, updates can be found, keyboard shortcuts implemented, and the mobile app can be downloaded.


Files can be uploaded via the attachment icon under the conversation bar. The files can be found and uploaded in the standard way after selecting the file location and, subsequently, the file you want.

There is also an intuitive option under ‘recent’. Here you can efficiently browse locations using the ‘Browse teams and Channels’ and ‘OneDrive’ options.

Files tab in Microsoft Teams App


You can make both video or audio calls from teams. This uses Skype functionality, and therefore, you can call someone from a chat, dial a number to call, and view call history and voicemail details from the same location.

calls tab in Microsoft Teams App


A meeting can be started in a channel using the ‘meet now’ icon under the ‘start new conversation’ bar. A meeting will be based in that conversation, a name for the meeting will need to be entered before you invite users to the meeting.

Accelerate productivity and collaboration with Teams

With a shockingly low average of 60 percent work time actually productive for staff, it’s important to do everything you can to improve collaboration and boost productivity.

Naturally, using the right software and upskilling your staff to use its full functionality dramatically improves the productivity of your firm. And, the business that sleeps on productivity is sure to fall behind to the one that uses every tool available.

We’ve covered how to unlock more of the functionality that Microsoft Teams has to offer. But there are many more benefits available to financial services looking to really maximize what they get out of Teams.

To further explore the bespoke benefits that Microsoft Teams can bring to your business, please contact a member of the Chalkline team today.

Other Posts from Chalkline