Microsoft Teams is Not a Zoom Alternative; It’s Much More

I recently wrote a blog post for Centriq Training on how Microsoft Teams is more than just a Zoom alternative. In the post, I detail (with a table comparison) how Teams and Zoom are similar in meeting and chat functionality. But Teams goes far beyond communication and really excels in being the “one-stop shop” of enterprise communication and collaboration.

The post is broken down into:

  • Intro (What is Teams, what is Zoom, and why do people ask Teams vs Zoom?)
  • Microsoft Teams vs Zoom (for online meetings) with feature comparison
  • What’s unique about teams
    • Participant limit and meeting types
    • File integration
    • Pre-connected apps teams can use
  • Conclusion (go beyond just chat and meetings with a single app for all productivity, collaboration, and communication)

Read the entire post on Centriq’s blog here: Microsoft Teams is Not a Zoom Alternative; It’s Much More.

How to restore a file deleted from a Microsoft Teams channel

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Microsoft Teams is the place where groups of people come together to communicate and collaborate. A large part of that collaboration is document storage, sharing, and co-authoring. In Teams, files can be found on the Files tab of each channel within a team.

Did you know the Files tab is actually showing you the contents of a SharePoint folder associated with that channel?

Because Teams files are stored in SharePoint, any file deleted from a Teams channel goes to the associated SharePoint site’s Recycle Bin. We need to go to that Recycle Bin to restore the deleted file from there.

Click to enlarge | The dialog that appears when deleting a Teams file shows us it’ll go to the (SharePoint) site Recycle Bin.

How to restore a deleted Teams file

To find the correct SharePoint site for the team in question, we first open the Files tab for the channel from which you originally deleted the file. Then choose Open in SharePoint. If you don’t see it, you may need to use the ellipsis (…) then select it as seen in the following screenshot.

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Next choose Recycle Bin from the left-hand navigation menu.

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Finally, select the file you deleted then choose Restore from the ribbon menu.

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Idea: Add the Recycle Bin as a channel tab

If you’re part of a team that is frequently accessing the Recycle Bin, you can pin it as a tab in your channel(s). Start this by clicking the plus sign (+) to the right of your existing tabs.

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Choose Website for the app (SharePoint apps won’t work for this particular idea).

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Name the tab Recycle Bin, paste the URL to your site’s Recycle Bin, and click Save.

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Now you can drag the new Recycle Bin tab right next to your Files tab and have them side-by-side.

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How to schedule a Microsoft Teams webinar

Previously we could schedule Teams meetings and Teams live events. Now there’s a new, third option called webinars for those “in-between” needs. It is currently rolling out (May 2021) so you may not see this option right away but check back soon.

Webinars enable up to 1,000 participants, but also come with some great features like custom registration pages with email confirmation to registrants, attendee reporting (in line with what we’re seeing in meetings and live events), and polls, chat, and reactions (as we have in meetings). We’ll also be better able to manage attendee audio/video as hosts of webinars.

Webinars can extend beyond 1,000 participants, though anyone beyond 1,000 will be view-only (non-interactive).

To schedule a webinar in Microsoft Teams webinar, follow these steps:

Scheduling a webinar in Microsoft Teams

1. Go to the Calendar via the Microsoft Teams client left-hand nav

The Calendar option in the left-hand navigation menu of Microsoft Teams.

2. Choose the dropdown arrow next to New Meeting in the upper right-hand corner and choose Webinar.

The new (May 2021) Webinar feature when scheduling Teams events.

3. Choose the dropdown arrow next to require registration to choose who should be required to register for the webinar in order to attend. You can choose None, For people in your org and guests, or For everyone.

Note: If For everyone is grayed out for you, your administrators will need to allow you to require it outside your organization via policy. See this documentation for more info. While currently PowerShell, we can expect to see UI settings added to the Teams Admin Center eventually as with other features.

The require registration option on a new Microsoft Teams webinar.

4. Select View registration form to configure the registration form attendees will complete.

The View registration form link on a new Microsoft Teams webinar.

5. Configure all of the details for the registration form, including any additional fields you want to add or speaker information.

Click to enlarge – Custom registration form configuration screen.

6. Click Save when finished customizing. You’ll see a preview of what your attendees will see and can copy the registration link from the top ribbon. When finished previewing, click the X in the upper-right hand corner to close the pop-up.

Click to enlarge – A custom registration form preview in Microsoft Teams when creating a webinar.

7. Complete the invite details for your presenters (matching the details you placed on the registration form, of course). Click Send when ready.

That’s it! Just be sure to only share the Registration link (open event from calendar and click Copy registration link) for your attendees and NOT the “Click here to join the meeting” link.

Click to enlarge – Share the “registration link” with attendees, not the “Join” or “Click here to join the meeting” links.

You can download current registration any time by re-opening the event from your calendar and selecting the registration file icon shown below.

Click to enlarge – Webinar details after creation.

How to get a Microsoft Teams meeting attendance report

white graphing paper

Microsoft Teams has three types of virtual meetings:

  • Meetings
  • Webinars
  • Live Events

Live events already had a nice attendance report (which I assume will be available for webinars as well), but traditional/regular meetings had yet to see a similar feature until now. You could always export attendance during the meeting, but it was a snapshot at that moment and you didn’t capture those who had left early or joined late depending on when you exported it. It also didn’t capture join/leave times.

Now meetings have attendance reports that you can get AFTER the meeting as well. Note that you must be the organizer, and your admin must have enabled this ability. See here for more info.

You can get these attendance reports in the meeting chat once the meeting ends (a report icon will appear) or simply follow these steps later to retroactively get the report from meeting details:

  1. Open the meeting/event in Teams to view Meeting Details
  2. Click the Attendance report icon to download the Excel file to your machine’s Downloads folder
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The resulting report will feature these details:

  • Total participants
  • Meeting start/end
  • Attendee name
  • Attendee join/leave times
  • Duration attended
  • Email
  • Role
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What is Teams Pro? A look at the latest M365 service plan

Microsoft announced a Teams Pro service plan on Feb 9, 2021. This service plan will be rolled out for all customers with applicable SKUs (Office 365 E5/E3/A5/A3, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard/Business Premium licenses) at no additional cost. You can read the message center announcement in your admin center.

What features are included in Teams Pro?

Teams Pro will include a set of features that will enable “meeting intelligence” and webinar capabilities. While nothing has currently been officially announced, I speculate the new custom registration pages will be included in the Teams Pro feature set.

Admins will be able to turn Teams Pro functionality/capabilities on or off for users similar to how they currently can toggle any app/service product license assignment on/off for users.

How does Teams Pro change my current Teams licensing and M365 cost?

This new addition will not change existing licenses, and will not come at an additional cost to those with Office 365 E5/E3/A5/A3, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard/Business Premium licenses.

When is Teams Pro available?

Teams Pro will be showing up mid-March 2021.

New MS-700 exam guide (Managing Microsoft Teams) now available with 165 practice questions

I had the honor of co-writing Packt’s new MS-700 exam guide with fellow MVP and MCT Peter Rising. We cover the latest exam objectives released in over 400 pages that include plenty of screenshots and a total of 165 exam practice questions.

Successfully passing the MS-700 exam earns you the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate certification. This is an excellent way to prove skills and proficiency to employers (current and prospective) and also challenge yourself with keeping up-to-date on administering one of Microsoft 365’s core collaboration and communication apps.

We had an amazing team of technical reviewers and I want to thank Linus Cansby, Adam Deltinger, Amanda Sterner, and Mike Swantek for their invaluable time and input to help make this the best exam guide possible.

I also want to thank the many editors and staff at Packt who invited us to work on this project and helped us make it exceptional from beginning to end. It’s our success to celebrate together and I’m quite proud of what we’ve accomplished.

Custom registration pages coming to Microsoft Teams meetings in March 2021

crop ethnic psychologist writing on clipboard during session

Update 5/19/2021: This is now available for Microsoft Teams webinars.

You may have noticed a message in your M365 admin message center recently that announced registration pages will soon be available for Microsoft Teams meetings, beginning in early March 2021.

This announcement shared that “Microsoft Teams meeting organizers will be soon be able to create a custom registration page for any meeting, although the feature is designed for webinars.”

When can I create custom registration pages for Teams meetings and webinars?

The feature will apply to both desktop and web versions of Teams and may be seen rolling out to your tenants as early as March and as late as April.

What Teams meeting types can have custom registration pages?

Webinars are the ideal candidate for this feature but any normal Teams meeting will work. Recurring meetings and channel meetings, however, will not have this ability.

Who can create custom registration pages in Teams?

Anyone in your tenant will be able to create custom registration pages for their meetings by default.

Who can submit/complete custom registrations for my Teams meeting?

Your organization’s users are able to submit by default, but you can change this everyone (public) to host public webinars. Your admin will need to grant you the ability to create public registration forms, and once granted you can use it repeatedly until access is revoked.

Admins, see the required PowerShell commands for modifying registration permissions in the announcement.

How do custom registration forms work in Teams?

You create a custom registration form during the normal meeting scheduling process. Anyone you invite to the webinar/meeting will automatically receive the link to your form for registration. Others can use your link from social media posts, emails, blogs, etc.

Meeting organizers will have access to a downloadable registration report to track registration activity. This can be found on the “details” tab for the meeting at any time.

Replace Microsoft Teams’ wiki tab with a OneNote notebook tab

The wiki tab that is added to every Team and each of its channels is convenient, but not robust and its content is not easily migrated and shared. I typically recommend new Team owners (or admins setting up new Teams) delete the ‘Wiki’ tab that comes with the Team and insert a new OneNote tab called ‘Notebook.’

Why replace the wiki with OneNote?

  • OneNote has a dedicated app.
  • Notebooks and Wikis are both stored in SharePoint (not Teams)
    • Notebooks can be moved, migrated, archived and accessed later more easily as a standalone OneNote file.
    • Wikis are folder structure document libraries in your site’s Site Contents folders. Individual sections are saved as .mht files. This can get messy reassembling and manipulating.
  • OneNote is easily searchable and can have password protected areas. Try searching your wiki or restricting certain parts without creating a private channel.
  • OneNote supports drawing/writing with styluses (styli?)
  • OneNote supports audio/video
  • OneNote integrates with Outlook
  • There are more reasons, like how robust you can get with formatting text, but I think you get the picture.

Why you might keep the wiki

While I’m suggesting that OneNote be used for your Team’s note-taking, collaboration, and regular information sharing in a highly mobile and flexible medium, there is still a case to keep wiki alongside OneNote. Matt Wade suggests renaming the wiki tab to ‘About’ and using it as a reference/resource for the Team itself in his Definitive Guide to Everyday Etiquette in Microsoft Teams. So then you’ll have a simple ‘About’ tab for Team information and a ‘Notebook’ tab for ongoing collaboration and work.

How to replace wiki with OneNote

  1. Use the dropdown menu for the Wiki tab and select Remove
  2. Click the plus sign (+) to add a new tab and select OneNote for the tab.
  3. Select the Notebook, and if for a channel other than general, perhaps a corresponding section in the Notebook. (I recommend mirroring your notebook’s sections to your Team’s channel structure)
  4. Use the tab dropdown menu to rename the probably-very-long name to something simple like ‘Notebook’ for a cleaner user experience.

That’s it! Just a few steps and you’ve substantially increased the productivity potential and collaboration superpowers of your Team. You’ll want to repeat these steps for each new channel you create and, as mentioned, consider creating a new notebook section for each channel to keep things simple, organized, and easy to navigate.

Still aren’t convinced?

Bob Morris has done a very impressive and thorough job of comparing the two. His thoughts on the matter may help you decide whether wikis or notebooks are the best fit for your Team(s).

Getting started with Shifts in Teams

Shifts, formerly StaffHub, is an app available for use within Microsoft Teams to share schedules and allow employees to submit requests. There is also a mobile app that can be used for many of the same desktop features, and adds a clock in/out functionality for members.

In this post, I’ll go over some Shifts basics to give you an idea of what’s possible. Please note you must be a Team owner to set up Shifts for your team.

Set up Shifts for the first time

To get started using Shifts, open Teams and select the ellipses from the left menu. Here you can select the Shifts app.

Next, you’ll choose the Team for which you’re configuring Shifts. Click Create next to the correct Team.

Next, confirm the time zone you want to use for this team. Once correct, click Confirm.

Add groups/types of shifts

Next, you’ll want to do some planning. What types of Shifts are you going to be scheduling? For each “type” of shift, you’ll create a group.

Click Add group and enter a name for each group/type of shifts or roles.

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Once you’ve added all the possible types of shifts, you may wish to reorder the shift groups. Just click the “move” button on any of the groups, then drag the groups into the order you wish and save.

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Add members to groups/roles

Choose who will have shifts in each group by selecting the “add people to group” icon.

Add members you wish, then close the dialog.

A person can be a member of multiple roles. For example, I may have shifts in concessions AND the admin office. You must add these members manually to each group they’ll appear in – they are not automatically added to all groups.

Add shifts for members

You can double-click in any square on the schedule to add a shift.

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If you add a shift to “Open shifts” you can assign it later.

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Share/publish the schedule

As you add Shifts, changes will be marked with an asterisk meaning only you as an owner can see them. You must Share with team to publish changes and let others see the schedule.

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After clicking Share with team, you choose which dates to “publish” and whether to notify the entire team or just those affected by the changes/additions.

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Remember to “share” every time you make changes so members are aware of your edits or new schedules.

Adding time off for members

To add time off for a team member, just right-click a square in their row and choose Add time off. Time off will appear in ALL groups for that team member – you can’t have a sick or vacation day in one shift group, and work in another.

You can classify these time off shifts in different ways, and save when satisfied.

If someone requests time off after they’ve already been scheduled you can move their affected assigned shifts to open shifts to re-assign later or have them make a request for someone to cover them.

Requests

Your team members, not just owners, can make their own requests for time off, swaps, or offers (giving a shift up without taking another in return). This takes some of the administrative burden off owners and makes employees accountable for their own changes and communication.

Time off requests

Employees can request time off, which sends a request for approval to the manager/owner.

When time off has been requested, a pulsing orange dot will appear with the request on the schedule itself, not just in the Requests tab.

Swap requests

Members can offer to exchange shifts with another person. The other employee must accept the proposal for it to take affect. When making the request, your employees will be able to tell which “group” the shift is in easily.

Offer requests

Sometimes employees just want to give a shift away without taking another in return. They can “Offer” shifts to other employees which sends the other employee a request for approval (similar to swaps).

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Printing schedules

Not all members may have easy access to Teams at all times, so you can easily print the schedule and post anywhere.

Using the “scale to one page” setting to make sure it will fit on your desired paper size.

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Time clock

The next logical piece, after scheduling, is the actual shift performance itself. Shifts even includes a Time Clock feature which allows mobile clock-in and clock-out with optional location detection for reporting.

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If you choose to turn on location tracking, you must enter the coordinates from which you expect employees to be clocking in and out.

From the Teams mobile app, team members can then clock in and clock out. They can edit clockings before confirming (in case they forgot to clock in/out) but the export/report will note the entry was edited. When clocking in/out, members will be notified if they’re noticed as off-location but can still clock in/out with that note added to the record.

The export (Shifts > Settings > Time Clock > Export) will highlight those clock-ins and clock-outs that were off-location:

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Conclusion

Shifts comes at no additional cost with your O365 subscription. It could easily replace your Excel sheet schedules or expensive clock in/out software. While it may not be the best solution for all scenarios, I’d argue it could be a game-changer and cost-saver for many organizations and committees or event staff.

Creating a Team from an existing O365 group

O365 groups make up the sun in the O365 solar system. And every Microsoft Teams team (planet?) must have an O365 group to exist. You’ll also use O365 groups for group email and calendars, defining permissions for private Stream channels, collaborating with group members in Planner, and much more.

When you create a new team from scratch, it automatically creates an O365 group (and a SharePoint site collection). Whomever you invite to that team is added to the O365 group which is also used to define permissions in other apps and services throughout O365.

But let’s say you were using O365 groups before Teams was cool. You don’t want to create duplicate teams or have to manage twice as many, right? Luckily, you can use existing O365 groups to create new teams.

Create a team using an existing O365 group

In Teams, beneath your list of Teams, click Join or create a team.

Click Create team.

Choose Create from…

Next, click Office 365 group.

If you choose Team, it will copy that Team’s apps, settings, and channels to the new Team (without changing the original Team). This might be useful for classes with similar formats, or creating committees or teams based on a well-received template.

But to create a team from our existing O365 group, we’re going to select Office 365 group.

Now select the existing O365 group for which you’re establishing a new Team, then click Create.

After a moment, your new Team will be created and you’ll be taken to its landing page.

You can verify membership is correct by opening the Team’s menu (ellipses) and selecting Manage team. This

Here you can view owners, members, and guests from the O365 group. You can now modify the O365 group’s membership here if you wish, keeping in mind it affects permissions outside of Teams as well (as is the nature of O365 groups).

Microsoft recommends modifying O365 group permissions via Teams because doing so elsewhere (such as the M365 admin center) will cause a delay in taking effect and removed team members may retain Teams chat access for a couple hours.