How to create an automated, chat-based team availability system using Power Automate and Microsoft Teams

Efficiently managing and communicating team availability in a hybrid world is crucial for smooth operations in any organization. This guide will show you how to create an automated yet interactive system for tracking and communicating the availability of general staff members using Power Automate, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint.

Step 1: Understanding the Business Process

  • Weekly Availability Surveys: Each Friday, staff members receive a personalized survey through a Teams chat message to submit their availability for the following week.
  • Confirmation and Preview: Upon submission, staff members get a confirmation message and a preview showing the team’s availability as of the time they submitted their own.
  • Comprehensive Monday Update: On Monday, everyone receives a complete overview of the team’s availability for that week, helping them make the most of everyone’s availability.

Video demonstration

The following video will demonstrate steps 2-3 (building the SharePoint list, and walking you through the Power Automate flow).

Step 2: Setting Up SharePoint

  • Create a SharePoint List: Establish a SharePoint list for logging staff availability. Ensure it’s accessible to all staff members who will be participating and/or reviewing availability of teammates. It needs:
    • A person column type for Employee
    • 5 single line of text columns – one for each weekday. In my demo, I’ve repurposed and renamed the default Title column for Monday.
The supporting SharePoint list upon creation | Click to enlarge
  • Manage Permissions (optional): Assign appropriate permissions to staff members to view and edit the availability list. In order for someone to submit their availability via the chat request, they’ll need Contribute or Edit access at least. If you added the list to a site accessible to all relevant team members, they already have access to edit the list by default.

Step 3: Automating with Power Automate

  • In-Office Status Survey Flow:
    • Trigger: Schedule to run every Friday at 10:00 AM.
    • It should first gather data from the SharePoint list (Get items) to know whom to ask for their availability
    • Before asking an employee for their availability, I use the following in my Update item step’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday fields to reset them each week:
⏳ Requested
  • Post an Adaptive Card : The chat message to each employee uses the ‘Post an adaptive card and wait for a response’ action. For the Message of the adaptive card step, utilize the provided JSON below. The only thing you’d want to update is the company logo URL to include your own. You could also adjust things like ‘Telework’ to ‘Work from home’ or any other verbiage you choose.
{
    "$schema": "http://adaptivecards.io/schemas/adaptive-card.json",
    "type": "AdaptiveCard",
    "version": "1.3",
    "msTeams": {
        "width": "full"
    },
    "body": [
        {
            "type": "ColumnSet",
            "columns": [
                {
                    "type": "Column",
                    "width": 5,
                    "items": [
                        {
                            "type": "TextBlock",
                            "text": "Good morning!",
                            "weight": "Bolder",
                            "size": "Medium",
                            "style": "heading"
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "TextBlock",
                            "text": "Let us know where you'll be working next week so we know how best to collaborate with you.",
                            "isSubtle": true,
                            "wrap": true
                        }
                    ]
                },
                {
                    "type": "Column",
                    "width": 1,
                    "items": [
                        {
                            "type": "Image",
                            "url": "https://i0.wp.com/natechamberlain.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/cropped-Nate-Chamberlain-logo-icon-e1661192398264.png",
                            "altText": "Company Logo",
                            "size": "auto"
                        }
                    ]
                }
            ]
        },
        {
            "type": "Container",
            "items": [
                {
                    "type": "ColumnSet",
                    "columns": [
                        {
                            "type": "Column",
                            "width": 33,
                            "items": [
                                {
                                    "type": "TextBlock",
                                    "text": "Monday",
                                    "wrap": true,
                                    "weight": "Bolder",
                                    "horizontalAlignment": "Center"
                                },
                                {
                                    "type": "Input.ChoiceSet",
                                    "choices": [
                                        {
                                            "title": "In office",
                                            "value": "🏒 In office"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Telework",
                                            "value": "🏠 Telework"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Leave",
                                            "value": "🌴 Out of office"
                                        }
                                    ],
                                    "placeholder": "Select",
                                    "style": "expanded",
                                    "id": "Monday",
                                    "isRequired": true,
                                    "errorMessage": "Please make a selection"
                                }
                            ]
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "Column",
                            "width": 33,
                            "items": [
                                {
                                    "type": "TextBlock",
                                    "text": "Tuesday",
                                    "wrap": true,
                                    "weight": "Bolder",
                                    "horizontalAlignment": "Center"
                                },
                                {
                                    "type": "Input.ChoiceSet",
                                    "choices": [
                                        {
                                            "title": "In office",
                                            "value": "🏒 In office"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Telework",
                                            "value": "🏠 Telework"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Leave",
                                            "value": "🌴 Out of office"
                                        }
                                    ],
                                    "placeholder": "Select",
                                    "style": "expanded",
                                    "id": "Tuesday",
                                    "isRequired": true,
                                    "errorMessage": "Please make a selection"
                                }
                            ]
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "Column",
                            "width": 33,
                            "items": [
                                {
                                    "type": "TextBlock",
                                    "text": "Wednesday",
                                    "wrap": true,
                                    "weight": "Bolder",
                                    "horizontalAlignment": "Center"
                                },
                                {
                                    "type": "Input.ChoiceSet",
                                    "choices": [
                                        {
                                            "title": "In office",
                                            "value": "🏒 In office"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Telework",
                                            "value": "🏠 Telework"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Leave",
                                            "value": "🌴 Out of office"
                                        }
                                    ],
                                    "placeholder": "Select",
                                    "style": "expanded",
                                    "id": "Wednesday",
                                    "isRequired": true,
                                    "errorMessage": "Please make a selection"
                                }
                            ]
                        }
                    ],
                    "bleed": true
                }
            ]
        },
        {
            "type": "Container",
            "items": [
                {
                    "type": "ColumnSet",
                    "columns": [
                        {
                            "type": "Column",
                            "width": 33,
                            "items": [
                                {
                                    "type": "TextBlock",
                                    "text": "Thursday",
                                    "wrap": true,
                                    "weight": "Bolder",
                                    "horizontalAlignment": "Center"
                                },
                                {
                                    "type": "Input.ChoiceSet",
                                    "choices": [
                                        {
                                            "title": "In office",
                                            "value": "🏒 In office"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Telework",
                                            "value": "🏠 Telework"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Leave",
                                            "value": "🌴 Out of office"
                                        }
                                    ],
                                    "placeholder": "Select",
                                    "style": "expanded",
                                    "id": "Thursday",
                                    "isRequired": true,
                                    "errorMessage": "Please make a selection"
                                }
                            ]
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "Column",
                            "width": 33,
                            "items": [
                                {
                                    "type": "TextBlock",
                                    "text": "Friday",
                                    "wrap": true,
                                    "weight": "Bolder",
                                    "horizontalAlignment": "Center"
                                },
                                {
                                    "type": "Input.ChoiceSet",
                                    "choices": [
                                        {
                                            "title": "In office",
                                            "value": "🏒 In office"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Telework",
                                            "value": "🏠 Telework"
                                        },
                                        {
                                            "title": "Leave",
                                            "value": "🌴 Out of office"
                                        }
                                    ],
                                    "placeholder": "Select",
                                    "style": "expanded",
                                    "id": "Friday",
                                    "isRequired": true,
                                    "errorMessage": "Please make a selection"
                                }
                            ]
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "Column",
                            "width": 33
                        }
                    ]
                }
            ]
        }
    ],
    "actions": [
        {
            "type": "Action.Submit",
            "title": "Submit"
        }
    ]
}
  • Get the updated list of availability (Get items 2) including the new response, making sure to use the following filter query to only get rows where people have responded for the coming week:
Title ne '⏳ Requested' and Title ne null
  • After someone responds, they’ll get a chat preview of the whole team’s availability for the week.
  • In-Office Status Results Flow:
    • Trigger: Schedule to run every Monday at 9:00 AM.
    • This flow compiles survey responses into an HTML table (similar to how we did the first flow) and distributes it to the team via a Teams group chat message where they can ask follow-up questions, provide additional context, coordinate meetings, etc.
    • Important – Exclude the Sender: The sender/owner of the flow should not be included in the Monday communication to recipients (assuming they’re using their credential to connect for that step in the flow). Since they’re the one connecting to Teams via Power Automate, they’re already included in the eventual group chat. Attempting to include them will result in an error.

Conclusion

By following these steps, you can set up a streamlined and automated process to manage the availability of your team. This system not only saves time but also ensures clear and consistent communication among all staff members.

MS-700 Managing Microsoft Teams Exam Prep Resources

Ready to become a certified Microsoft Teams Administrator? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Steps to getting your Teams Administrator certification

  1. Study for the MS-700 exam
  2. Schedule the MS-700 exam
  3. Pass the MS-700 exam

That’s it! The Teams Administrator certification only takes passing this one exam to obtain. In this post, I’ll share both free and paid resources to help you prepare.

Here are some resources:

Free MS-700 study resources

My MS-700 exam study guide with 168 practice questions

Ready for more? Check out Peter Rising’s and my MS-700 exam guide for in-depth exploration of the latest objectives. I recommend starting out by reviewing the objectives and focusing on your weakest areas.

If you use anΒ exam guideΒ or practice test, you’ll get a realistic idea of the types of questions that will appear on your actual exam. You can also check out some practice questions by watching my DC SP User Group recording where I shared some practice questions during the presentation.

MS-700 exam guide (2nd ed) table of contents

  1. Plan and configure network settings for Microsoft Teams
  2. Identify licensing requirements for Microsoft Teams
  3. Plan and configure security and compliance settings for Microsoft Teams
  4. Plan and implement governance and lifecycle management for Microsoft Teams
  5. Configure and manage external and guest users
  6. Configure and manage Microsoft Teams devices
  7. Creating and managing teams
  8. Plan and manage channels
  9. Manage chat and collaboration experiences
  10. Manage apps for Microsoft Teams
  11. Manage meeting experiences
  12. Manage phone numbers
  13. Manage Phone System for Microsoft Teams
  14. Monitor and report on a Microsoft Teams environment
  15. Troubleshoot audio, video, and client issues
  16. Mock exam
  17. Mock exam answers and explanations
  18. Answers (and explanations) to practice questions

Order our MS-700 exam guide here.

Good luck!

How to delay or schedule Teams chat messages to send at a later time

flowers grass meadow time

If you’re working after hours or want to send a chat message during someone else’s working hours (such as when your colleagues are geographically dispersed across time zones), you can schedule your message to send at a later time in Teams. This works for both internal and external chat recipients.

Note
This only applies to chats – not channel conversation posts.

Here’s how to delay Teams chat messages:

How to schedule Teams messages to send later

  1. Compose your message as you normally would.
  2. Right-click the Send button and set the date and time you’d like the message to be delivered
The message scheduling dialog when delaying a Teams message delivery | Click to enlarge
  1. Click Send at scheduled time
  2. Click the Send button
A scheduled message in a Microsoft Teams chat | Click to enlarge

That’s it! Your message will be sent at the scheduled time.

How to edit or delete a scheduled chat message in Microsoft Teams

Later, you may change your mind or want to edit the message text or change the delivery time for a previously scheduled message.

Note
Deleted scheduled messages will not be delivered and cannot be restored.

Here’s how to edit or delete a scheduled message:

  1. Hover over the scheduled message and select the ellipsis ()
  2. Click Edit (or Delete if that’s what you want to do)
Edit option for a scheduled message | Click to enlarge
  1. Edit the message and select the checkmark when finished to save your changes.
A scheduled message in edit mode | Click to enlarge

That’s it!

Note
If you don’t see the Edit option, it is likely that your Teams administrator has assigned a messaging policy to you that prevents editing sent messages. This is a simple toggle in the messaging policy they control.

Business use cases

Here are some scenarios in which scheduling messages to send later might be appropriate:

  • You want to send a message outside of business hours but don’t want it to end up at the bottom of many others to come
  • You want to send a reminder about an upcoming meeting or deadline
  • You want to send a message when someone is in a different time zone
  • You want to send a message when someone is on vacation or out of office
  • You want to make sure you don’t forget to welcome somebody back, or acknowledge a significant date

References and further reading

How to create a direct link to the Approvals app in Microsoft Teams

yellow arrow led signage

If you want to create a direct hyperlink in an email or chat message that takes a user directly to the Approvals app within Microsoft Teams, it’s luckily pretty straightforward. You might do this if you want to remind users to review any pending/open approvals on a regular basis, nudge a specific person to complete an approval, or create a custom approval request email for a Power Automate flow.

In this blog post I’ll highlight how you can get a direct link to Approvals for enterprise and GCC subscriptions in both Microsoft Teams and Power Automate.

How to create a direct link to the Approvals app in Microsoft Teams

To send users directly to the Approvals app in Microsoft Teams, your URL may be exactly the same as one of these. That’s right, no modification needed! That’s because the alphanumeric content in the URL is the app ID and it stays the same from one organization to the next.

However, the app ID does differ for different versions of the Approvals app. For instance:

Approvals app in Microsoft Teams: https://teams.microsoft.com/l/entity/7c316234-ded0-4f95-8a83-8453d0876592/approvals

US GCC Approvals app in Microsoft Teams: https://teams.microsoft.com/l/entity/2d4edd75-5a69-41da-bead-44c3a268ece8/approvals

As you can see the structure is similar:

  1. Begin your URL with https://teams.microsoft.com/l/entity/
  2. Replace the alphanumeric id before /approvals with the app ID specific to your Approvals app

How to find your app ID

If neither of the examples above (normal Approvals or GCC Approvals) works for you, you may have a different Approvals app or the ID may have changed or been copied incorrectly. To find your app ID:

  1. Go to Manage Apps in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center
  2. Search for and select the Approvals app
  3. Find its ID under App ID
An app details page in the Microsoft Teams admin center | Click to enlarge

How to create a direct link to the Approvals page of Power Automate

If you prefer users complete approvals via the browser using Power Automate (same approvals, different interface), you may instead go to Power Automate in your browser and click on Approvals from the left navigation menu then copy that entire URL. It will be the same for all users in your organization.

It might resemble something like the following:

Approvals page in Power Automate: https://make.powerautomate.com/environments/Default-a1b2c3d4-e5f6-7h8i-9j0k-l1m2n3o4p5q6/approvals/received

US GCC Approvals page in Power Automate: https://make.gov.powerautomate.us/environments/Default-g7h8i9j0-k1l2-m3n4-o5p6-q7r8s9t0u1v2/approvals/received

You can, alternatively, copy one of my fake URLs above and replace everything between Default- and /approvals with your organization’s ID. To get this, visit Power Automate in your browser and copy the ID out of its URL.

Power Automate URL’s ID location | Click to enlarge

References

Deep link to an application – Teams | Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Teams vs Viva Engage: A comparison guide

Microsoft Teams and Viva Engage (formerly known as Yammer) both empower communication and collaboration within an organization but they have different strengths and purposes. So how do you decide which one to use for your needs?

When I’m asked the question β€œwhen do I use which?”, I usually respond with another question: β€œAre you wanting to accomplish work together, or work on employee engagement and culture?” It’s not that you can’t do both with either tool – but each has its strength for different purposes. This post will help clarify when you might choose one over the other for various needs.

Feature comparison: Teams vs Viva Engage

To help you understand the differences between Microsoft Teams and Viva Engage, I’ve put together a comparison table that highlights their key concepts and strengths. I’ll go into more detail later in this post.

FeatureMicrosoft TeamsViva Engage
CommunicationChat, voice, and video callsCommunity building, leadership engagement
CollaborationFile sharing, co-authoring, and real-time collaborationKnowledge sharing, self-expression
IntegrationIntegrated with other Microsoft 365 appsIntegrated with other Microsoft 365 apps
DeploymentManaged by Teams adminManaged by Teams admin
User InterfaceChat-based interfaceCommunity-based interface
Use CasesReal-time communication and collaborationCommunity building and knowledge sharing
Table comparing core concepts and abilities of Microsoft Teams and Viva Engage

As you can see from the table, Microsoft Teams excels at real-time communication and collaboration, while Viva Engage is focused on community building and knowledge sharing. So when deciding which tool to use, it’s important to consider your goals and the needs of your team or organization.

Not as familiar with Viva Engage yet? I recently posted 3 practical user stories that show how Viva Engage boosts employee engagement.

Next, let’s look at another commonly asked question that gets deeper into each app – when I need a new place for my team/group, should I create a team in Microsoft Teams or a community in Viva Engage?

Teams vs communities: When to use which

You’re going to be at a crossroads occasionally when you need to establish a new group of people in one (or both) apps. While both apps allow you to create groups of people and share resources, they are best suited for different scenarios. So do you need a new team, or a new community?

Microsoft Teams: Real-time collaboration

In Microsoft Teams, you can create a team for real-time communication and collaboration. Teams are ideal for scenarios where you need to work on a project together, coordinate tasks, or share files. With features like chat, voice and video calls, and co-authoring, Microsoft Teams makes it easy to collaborate and get work done.

Viva Engage: Community building

In Viva Engage, you can create a community for knowledge sharing and community building. Communities are ideal for scenarios where you want to share best practices, discuss industry trends, or build a sense of community around a shared interest or goal. With features like community discussions, knowledge sharing, and leadership engagement, Viva Engage helps you foster a strong and engaged community as well as company culture.

Business use case comparison: Teams vs Viva Engage

The following table helps demonstrate when I, personally, would choose one app over the other. There is a great deal of personal preference here and there is no 100% correct answer for all organizations and scenarios. But I hope this helps you form your own decisions, nonetheless.

Business use caseTeamCommunity
Launch a new product and get feedback from customers and stakeholdersβœ“βœ“
Organize a virtual live event with speakers, Q&A, and pollsβœ“*βœ“
Coordinate a project with tasks, deadlines, and progress reportsβœ“
Share best practices and tips with peers in the same role or functionβœ“
Connect with leaders and experts and ask questions or share ideasβœ“
Collaborate on a document or presentation with co-authors and reviewersβœ“
Celebrate a team milestone or achievement with praise and recognitionβœ“βœ“
Find relevant information and resources for a specific topic or domainβœ“
Manage a sales pipeline and track leads, opportunities, and dealsβœ“
Communicate urgent updates and announcements to the whole organizationβœ“
Conduct a brainstorming session and generate new ideas or solutionsβœ“
Plan and execute a marketing campaign or a product launchβœ“
Build a personal network and find people with common interests or goalsβœ“
Table comparing when to use a team (Microsoft Teams) vs a community (Viva Engage)

*I would choose Viva Engage over Microsoft Teams for most live events that are this interactive because the features being used imply engagement and broad communication. I lean toward Teams for smaller meetings, typically less produced, and more task oriented.

Summary

In summary, you might choose to create a team in Microsoft Teams when you need to collaborate and communicate in real-time, and you might choose to create a community in Viva Engage when you want to build and foster a community around a shared interest or goal. For more information on Viva Engage, you can check out the official Microsoft documentation.

What do you think? How do you use Microsoft Teams and Viva Engage in your organization? Share your comments below or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

You can continue learning and reading about Microsoft Teams and Viva Engage with these resources:

3 practical user stories that show how Viva Engage boosts employee engagement

women sitting on chairs inside a room

How can you empower your employees to connect and collaborate across the company, no matter where or when they work? The answer is Microsoft Viva Engage, the new and improved evolution of Yammer, that creates an inclusive and engaging employee experience for everyone. The Viva Engage app in Teams enables organizations to create community, foster engagement with leadership, access knowledge and answers, and develop personal networks.

The app details page for Viva Engage in Microsoft Teams | Click to enlarge

Viva Engage is powered by Yammer services, so you can access the same content and features in Yammer web, desktop, and mobile apps as well as in Teams.

Not sure how Microsoft Teams differs from Viva Engage? Check out my post Microsoft Teams vs Viva Engage: A comparison guide.

In this blog post, we will share three user stories that illustrate how different employees use Viva Engage in different ways to accomplish their goals and work smarter.

User story 1: A frontline worker who uses Viva Engage to stay connected and informed

Maria is a retail associate at a large clothing store. She works on the shop floor, interacting with customers and managing inventory. She doesn’t have a dedicated desk or computer, so she relies on her smartphone to access Viva Engage in Teams.

Maria uses Viva Engage to:

  • Join and follow communities that are relevant to her role, such as the store community, the customer service community, and the product knowledge community.
  • Receive and respond to announcements from her manager and the corporate headquarters, such as new policies, promotions, and feedback surveys.
  • Ask and answer questions in the communities, using the Q&A feature to mark the best answers and upvote helpful replies.
  • Share stories and photos of her work and experience, using the storyline feature to create engaging posts that highlight her achievements and challenges.
  • Learn from her peers and experts, using the topics feature to follow hashtags and @mentions that interest her and help her improve her skills and knowledge.

Maria feels more connected and informed with Viva Engage. She can communicate and collaborate with her colleagues across the store and the company and access the information and resources she needs to do her job well and grow her career.

User story 2: A project manager who uses Viva Engage to manage and coordinate a cross-functional team

David is a project manager at a software company. He leads a team of developers, designers, testers, and marketers who work on a new product feature. He works remotely, so he uses Viva Engage in Teams to manage and coordinate his team.

David uses Viva Engage to:

  • Create and manage a community for his project team, where he can share updates, documents, and feedback with his team members and stakeholders.
  • Host and join virtual events in the community, using the live events feature to stream presentations, demos, and Q&A sessions with his team and the wider audience.
  • Interact with senior executives and thought leaders, using the leadership corner feature to view and join activities from top management, take polls, participate in hashtag campaigns and AMAs, and network with new leaders across the organization.
  • Crowdsource ideas and solutions, using the questions and answers feature to post and pin questions, upvote replies, and mark the best answers to solicit input and feedback from his team and the broader network.
  • Analyze and improve his community’s performance, using the analytics feature to get detailed insights into every community, event, and conversation, and take action to measure and increase activity and engagement.

David feels more productive and collaborative with Viva Engage. He can manage and coordinate his project team effectively and leverage the collective intelligence and experience of the organization to deliver better outcomes.

User story 3: A human resources manager who uses Viva Engage to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion

Lisa is a human resources manager at a manufacturing company. She is responsible for developing and implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives across the company. She works in the headquarters, but she travels frequently to visit different sites and regions. She uses Viva Engage in Teams to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Lisa uses Viva Engage to:

  • Create and support employee resource groups (ERGs), using the communities feature to create and join communities for different affinity groups, such as women, LGBTQ+, veterans, and people with disabilities.
  • Launch and promote diversity and inclusion campaigns, using the community campaigns feature to create and manage organization-wide campaigns with dedicated campaign pages that aggregate posts from across the network into a unified view.
  • Share and celebrate stories of diversity and inclusion, using the storylines feature to create, upload, and share stories that highlight the diversity and inclusion achievements and challenges of the company and its employees.
  • Educate and empower employees on diversity and inclusion, using the learning feature to find and share relevant content from learning providers and company resources, and the live events feature to host and join webinars and workshops on diversity and inclusion topics.
  • Monitor and improve the diversity and inclusion outcomes, using the analytics feature to track and measure the impact of the diversity and inclusion initiatives, and the feedback feature to solicit and respond to employee suggestions and concerns.

Lisa feels more inspired and impactful with Viva Engage. She can foster a culture of diversity and inclusion across the company, and support and celebrate the diverse identities and perspectives of the employees.

Conclusion

These user stories show how Viva Engage helps employees connect and collaborate across the organization, regardless of their role, location, or background. Viva Engage is part of Microsoft Viva, the employee experience platform designed to help people connect, focus, learn, and thrive at work. Learn more about Viva here.

If you want to try Viva Engage for yourself, you can install the Viva Engage app in Teams and start creating and joining communities and conversations. You can also access Viva Engage in Yammer web, desktop, and mobile apps. For more information and guidance on how to use Viva Engage, check out the Microsoft Learn module here. And check out the introduction video here:

References and further reading

5 essential settings to consider for every team in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool for teamwork and collaboration that has transformed the landscape of digital work. You can create and join teams (groups of people and their shared tools and work), chat with others within and beyond your organization, share and manage files, and much more. However, to make the most of Teams, you need to configure some settings and permissions for your team on a case-by-case basis. In this blog post, I will highlight five important settings to consider for each of your teams in Microsoft Teams.

Not a team owner (yet)? Share these topics with whoever is or keep them in mind for your future teams. I’ll cover:

  1. Team name and description
  2. Team privacy
  3. Team members and owners
  4. Team channels and tabs
  5. Team notifications and mentions

1. Team name and description

The team name and description are the first things that people see when they browse or search for teams. They should be clear, concise, and informative. You can change the team name and description by going to the team name, clicking More options | Edit team, and typing in the new name and description.

Consider using a naming convention to make it clear which region, department, audience, etc. a team belongs to. For example, perhaps an EXT_ prefix will always preceed teams with external participants. Learn more about team naming conventions here: The Importance of a Teams Naming Convention | Microsoft Learn

Edit team name and description steps | Click to enlarge

You can also add a team picture to make your team more instantly recognizable.

Steps to modify the team picture | Click to enlarge

2. Team privacy

The team privacy determines who can see and join your team. You can choose from two options: public or private. A public team is visible to anyone in your organization, and anyone can join it without approval. A private team is only visible to team members, and people need to request to join it or be invited by a team owner. You can change the team privacy by going to the team name, clicking More options | Edit team, and selecting the privacy option.

Team privacy setting | Click to enlarge

3. Team members and owners

The team members and owners are the people who belong to your team. The team members can chat, share files, and participate in meetings. The team owners can manage the team settings and permissions, add or remove members, and delete the team. You can add or remove team members as well as promote or demote roles (i.e. from member to owner) by going to the team name, clicking More options | Manage team, and selecting the Members tab.

Members settings for a team in Microsoft Teams | Click to enlarge

4. Team channels and tabs

The team channels and tabs are the spaces where you can have conversations and access tools within your team. The team channels are typically organized by topics, projects, or departments. You can create standard channels that are open to everyone in the team, or private channels that are only accessible to a subset of team members. You can add or remove team channels by going to the team name, clicking More options | Add channel or More options | Manage team, and selecting the Channels tab. Note that the General channel comes with every team and cannot be deleted.

You can also edit individual channel names, descriptions, and whether or not it’s shown or hidden by clicking More options | Edit this channel.

The team tabs along the top of each channel are the shortcuts to your favorite apps and tools within a channel. You can add tabs for a Planner board, a Power BI dashboard, a OneNote notebook, and more. You can add or remove team tabs by going to a channel, clicking the + sign at the top, and choosing the app or tool you want to add.

The add a tab dialog where you can choose an app | Click to enlarge

You can also reorder the tabs by dragging and dropping them, or delete the tabs by selecting it’s dropdown arrow and choosing Remove.

5. Team notifications and mentions

The team notifications and mentions are two ways to stay updated and alert your team members. The team notifications are the alerts that you receive when something happens in your team, such as a new message, a new file, or a new meeting. You can customize your team notifications by going to Settings and more (…) and then Settings | Notifications, and choosing the notification level and sound for each activity.

Notification settings for the Microsoft Teams client app | Click to enlarge

The team mentions are the tags that you use to get someone’s attention in a conversation. You can mention a person, a channel, a tag, or the whole team by typing @ followed by their name. The team mentions help you communicate effectively and efficiently with your team.

Learn about all four ways to @ mention in Teams, and when to use which, in my other post (includes video): 4 ways to @mention in Microsoft Teams to get attention on your posts and replies

You can also send a message as important, indicating visually that it’s a high priority.

Steps to mark a message as important in Microsoft Teams | Click to enlarge

Learn about more permissions and settings

There are, of course, many more than 5 settings to consider for each of your teams. While I have highlighted specific topics and considerations, I encourage you to keep learning with these resources:

How to change your profile picture in Microsoft Teams

Using a profile picture in collaborative apps like Microsoft Teams can enhance communication, recognition, engagement, and social connection among coworkers. It can also remove anonymity and add a human touch to the digital workplace.

Updating your profile picture in Microsoft Teams updates your profile picture across all of Microsoft 365 – the same picture will appear when you’re using Office.com, SharePoint, OneDrive, Outlook, etc. in the upper right corner.

General location of your profile pic in M365 apps other than Teams | Click to enlarge

Ready to give it a try? Follow these steps:

How to update your profile picture in Microsoft Teams

  1. Launch Microsoft Teams on your device.
  2. Tap or click on your current profile picture at the top left or right of the screen, depending on your device
  3. Tap or click on the camera icon that appears when you hover over or tap on your profile picture.
Steps to update your profile pic in Microsoft Teams desktop app | Click to enlarge
  1. Tap or click on Upload picture to access your photos.
Upload picture option in the Microsoft Teams desktop app | Click to enlarge
  1. Select a .png, .jpg, or .gif image that’s less than 4 MB in size and tap or click on Save.

And that’s it! It may take a small while to see the new photo reflected everywhere throughout Microsoft 365, but there’s nothing more to do. πŸŽ‰

Here’s a video demonstration of how to update your profile picture using the Microsoft Teams mobile app:

How to live stream a Microsoft Teams meeting to YouTube without installing additional software

Live streaming Teams meetings and webinars to YouTube may expand your audience and allow for more viewers to engage with your event than otherwise might. It’s great for running a virtual conference or event where you need to embed YouTube videos in the platform for a streamlined approach. YouTube also saves your live streams as videos in your channel without the need to do a separate upload after an event. This concept gives users/presenters the ease of just having a normal Teams meeting, but the power of enhanced broadcasting and distribution.

Though I’m focused on YouTube in this blog post, the same setup on the Teams side is required to live stream to social media platforms or otherwise.

Thanks to recent updates to Microsoft Teams, you no longer need OBS Studio or other third-party software installations to live stream your Microsoft Teams events to YouTube. However, this ability launched in disabled state by default, so a Teams Administrator will need to complete the prerequisites prior to someone being able to live stream.

Note

At this time, live streaming only works for meetings and webinars in Microsoft Teams – not live events.

Admin prerequisites to live streaming with Microsoft Teams

Before users can broadcast their live stream from Microsoft Teams, a Teams administrator needs to create or modify a Meeting policy and:

  • Enable Live Streaming Mode (General section)
  • Turn on Local Broadcasting (Audio & video section)

You can modify the Global (Org-wide) default Meeting policy which would allow everyone to broadcast and live stream, or you can create/modify a separate Meeting policy and apply it only to specific users who should be allowed to live stream.

Here’s how to modify the Global (Org-wide) default meeting policy to allow everyone in your org to live stream:

  1. Go to the Teams admin center (https://admin.teams.microsoft.com/)
  2. Select Meetings | Meeting policies
  3. Select the name of the policy you wish to modify. In this example, Global (Org-wide) default).
Location of the global/default meeting policy in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center | Click to enlarge
  1. Enable Live streaming mode, and turn on Local broadcasting as seen in the following screenshot.
Live streaming settings in a Meeting policy | Click to enlarge

Technically, you could just enable Live streaming mode for this post. But by also turning on Local broadcasting (NDI), your users will have greater flexibility to produce their Microsoft Teams events with broadcasting software like OBS Studio, XSplit, etc. which gives additional capabilities like setting up scenes and such.

  1. Click Save

Note

The changes may take an hour or so to take effect after saving your policy changes.

Your users will now be able to live stream their Teams events. Now let’s go through those steps.

Producer prerequisites to live streaming with Microsoft Teams

If you are going to be the producer of an upcoming event, you’ll need to make a change to your individual Teams client settings before you’re able to proceed.

Simply open your settings in Teams (ellipsis/three dots by your profile picture | Settings) and then select App permissions. Here you can enable NDI capabilities.

NDI capabilities enabled in the Teams client settings | Click to enlarge

How to live stream a Microsoft Teams meeting or webinar to YouTube

Users assigned the policy created or modified in the admin prerequisite section can follow these steps to live stream directly to YouTube from Microsoft Teams.

  1. First we need to set up the live event on the YouTube side. Go to YouTube Studio (https://studio.youtube.com) and sign in with the account you wish to broadcast to.
  2. Click Create | Go live in the upper right
YouTube steps to Go live | Click to enlarge
  1. Choose whether you’re going live Right now, or whether you’re just setting up for a Later date. Either way, you’ll have additional steps that may vary from this post – follow the prompts to complete setup.
Go live options in YouTube | Click to enlarge
  1. Continue through your YouTube prompts but do not go live yet. When you get out of the wizard, be sure you’re on the Stream tab on the left-hand navigation and locate the Stream key and Stream URL. You’ll need to copy both of these and use them later in step 9.
YouTube stream key and stream URL locations | Click to enlarge
  1. Now we need to switch to Microsoft Teams. Join the meeting or webinar you wish to live stream.
  2. Add the Custom Streaming app to the meeting
Steps to add the Custom Streaming app to a Teams meeting | Click to enlarge
  1. Click Add
Custom Streaming app info and confirmation screen | Click to enlarge
  1. Click Save
Custom Streaming app welcome screen | Click to enlarge
  1. In the right-hand panel that opens, paste the Stream key and Stream URL you copied in step 4.
Copy/paste paths for stream key and URL | Click to enlarge
  1. Click Start streaming in the lower right, then select Allow in the dialog box when it appears.
Streaming meeting confirmation dialog | Click to enlarge
  1. You’re now live streaming! Share your screen and/or use your cameras and microphones to run your event as you would any normal Microsoft Teams meeting.
A screenshare from Microsoft Teams being live streamed to YouTube | Click to enlarge
  1. When you’re finished with the event, you can stop streaming via Teams and YouTube.
Stop streaming button in the Custom Streaming app panel | Click to enlarge
End stream button in YouTube | Click to enlarge

Where to find your Microsoft Teams meeting ID and passcode

You may have noticed your Microsoft Teams meeting invites now include meeting IDs and passcodes, and there’s a new Join with an ID button on Calendar. In this blog post I’ll cover several meeting ID-related topics for meeting organizers:

  • Find your Teams meeting ID and passcode
  • Find your Teams meeting ID and passcode during a meeting
  • Add someone to a Teams meeting already in progress
  • Microsoft Teams meeting IDs vs join links

In a rush? Here’s the quick answer:

  • Not in a meeting yet? Open the event on your calendar and you’ll find the meeting ID and passcode in the event details
  • In a meeting already? Go to More | Meeting info

Find your Teams meeting ID and passcode (when not already in the meeting)

  1. Open Microsoft Teams and select Calendar from the left
  2. Double-click or edit the meeting for which you’d like to retrieve the meeting ID
  3. Copy the Meeting ID and Passcode from the meeting details

Note that you can also get the join link from the same section if you prefer. The contents you see here as the meeting organizer (join link, ID, passcode, and call-in info when relevant) is the same contents any invited participants received. They can find this on their calendar by opening the event and viewing its details.

Location of meeting ID and passcode in meeting details (click to enlarge)

Find your Teams meeting ID and passcode during a meeting

To find your Teams meeting join link, meeting ID, and passcode during a meeting, select More | Meeting info.

More | Meeting info in a Teams meeting (click to enlarge)

From here, you can scroll to the bottom for the join link, meeting ID, and passcode.

The location of your meeting’s link, ID, and passcode during a meeting (click to enlarge)

You can select Copy join info at the top of the same panel which resembles the following and includes both entry options as well as call-in info when you’re licensed appropriately. This might be handy to paste in a quick Teams message or email for last-minute requests:

An example of the contents copied to your clipboard when you click Copy join info (click to enlarge)

Add someone to a Teams meeting already in progress

Now let’s imagine you’re in the middle of a Microsoft Teams meeting, and you’d like someone to join you. If they’re in your organization’s directory, you can simply:

  1. Open the People panel
  2. Type in their name and select Request to join next to it when it appears

However, you can’t invite external participants as easily because no matches show up.

No matches found when searching for an external person during a meeting (click to enlarge)

So for external people, use the method described at the beginning of this post (More | Meeting info) and send the join link, meeting ID, and passcode to the individual you’re asking to join. If the link doesn’t work for them and they want to use the ID to join, they’ll go to Calendar in Microsoft Teams, select Join with an ID and enter the info you provided.

A user’s screen when entering a meeting ID and password (click to enlarge)

If they don’t have a Microsoft Teams account to utilize Calendar, there will also be a public join webpage soon where they can enter the meeting ID and passcode and join.

Microsoft Teams meeting IDs vs join links

When it comes to secure meetings, links and IDs are about the same. If someone forwards the meeting invite to a stranger, they can attempt to join the meeting. If you’re concerned about this, perhaps because you’re sharing NDA content in a meeting or just don’t want strangers hopping in, be sure to utilize the “People I Invite” lobby settings so you can decline any unfamiliar or uninvited persons attempting to enter.

Join links specifically are perfectly fine to continue using and they are very difficult for a bad agent (with the intention of crashing your meeting) to guess. Imagine trying to guess something this long and complex, even with bot assistance:

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19:meeting_MGZlO23U4YjItOTE2MS00ZTSkLWIyMGUtNGRiMWRiYjc4ZjU2@thread.v2/0?context=%7B%22Tid%22:%225a447937-4988-4622-ab53-g1e384ec3c1a%22,%22Oid%22:%22c3db5526-5334-4d0a-ba50-bece903d370%22%7D

Join links are quick and easy for invitees to use. Click the link and you’re at the pre-join screen making sure your devices are setup properly.

Meeting IDs also take you directly to the pre-join screen, and may be a better option if someone is having difficulty using the link you provided. Perhaps their firewall is preventing the link from working or there are other restrictions on their machine that don’t allow them to utilize links normally. Meeting IDs give them an alternative entry method that isn’t dependent on an https:// url.

Why is there a passcode? Without a passcode, a stranger could simply start guessing meeting IDs (which are much easier to guess than the long, complicated join links) and they could pay you and your colleagues an unwanted visit.

Best practice would be to send people both options so they have a backup method if needed. Your meeting invites automatically include both already, and if you’re in a meeting attempting to add someone who wasn’t originally invited, you can go to More | Meeting info and select Copy join info which will copy both options to your clipboard for those last-minute invites via messages or emails.