In their latest analysis report, they announced a new daily record of hosting 2.7 billion meeting minutes across the planet in ONE single day. This figure trebled their previous record of 900 million.
Students and teachers are also turning to Microsoft Teams for distance learning. It’s being used in 175 countries around the world to keep education going.
Obviously we, as humans, love face-to-face contact. We prefer to communicate in person with other people.
Microsoft have been researching the way we are all interacting now to uncover some new trends. It makes for interesting reading.
Because we love face-to-face, it’s no surprise that the use of video in Teams meetings and conferencing is on the rise. Global video calls in Teams rose by more than 1,000 per cent during the whole of March. Users in Norway, Australia and the Netherlands were the most active with video communication.
Microsoft Stream, which powers live events and meeting recordings in Teams, has also seen a huge upsurge in activity. A five-fold increase took place in just one month.
With the increasing use of the platform, Microsoft is making changes to make using Teams an even better experience for people. These include:
Custom backgrounds – which means you can replace a cluttered or dowdy space with a fresh, new office backdrop. A neat way to create an even more distinguished and professional look.
Raise hands – a function which allows participants on a video call or in a virtual conference meeting to indicate they wish to speak.
End Meeting For All – The host of a meeting is now able to end the meeting for all participants with a single button click.
Participant Report – Meeting organisers, especially teachers, can see who joined, at what time and when they left the meeting.
Real-time Noise Suppression – a feature on its way to reduce distracting background noise, such as loud typing or a dog barking.
Different working hours
Microsoft’s research also suggests that people are adjusting their working hours while they work more remotely, typically from home. People are logging on earlier and logging off later.
This, say the researchers, does not mean people are working longer hours. It means they are breaking up their work day into different chunks. This may be to work around family, household tasks or caring for others.
You may have found you have had to make some adjustments to your working day or week, too.
What is clear is this. More and more companies and individuals are turning to Microsoft Teams. They will expect employees and external people they work with to know how to use the application.
For the motivated VA, now really is the moment to get your teeth into Teams and make sure you know it well enough to serve clients with calm and confident efficiency.
If you know you need to get up to speed, take a look at my online course on How to Use Microsoft Teams. It covers all the essentials. That means you can worry less about working out how to do stuff and focus on delivering superb service to your clients.
Don’t get left behind. Microsoft Teams is here and only going to be more popular. I’ll show you step-by-step all the clever stuff it does so you can handle it like a dream.
Unless you have been hiding under a log for the past few weeks and let’s face it, you may actually wish you had been, then you will be well aware of the upsurge in the use of Zoom for online meetings. You may also have been seeing so many posts and articles about Microsoft Teams (especially on LinkedIn) and other social media platforms.
Anyone who knows me or has followed me for any length of time, will know that I am an IT Trainer who has been delivering training for over 20 years now! Phew that is a long time…
As far back as 2014 I realised that learning how to teach online would be a fabulous skill to have and so I undertook the Certified Online Learning Facilitator (COLF) course with the Learning and Performance Institute, followed by the Certificate in the Design of Online Learning (CDOL). I am also a Fellow of the Learning and Performance Institute.
I also have a range of courses online which are pre-recorded and take you through Microsoft Office topics.
That was all to show you that I have been in the online space for a while, well before remote working became a matter of necessity rather than choice.
So, what is all this fuss about Zoom and Teams and what are they?
Both are ways that you can meet remotely, share your screen and chat with others. Both have a range of built in tools that can help you work remotely.
They are however a little different.
Let’s explore them both and work out which if not both is right for you.
Zoom had been around for a while. It was founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan – a lead engineer at Cisco Systems and its collaboration business with WebEx. The service started in January 2013 and I think I may even have been using it then!
What does Zoom do?
Zoom is used for video conferencing. During a video conference the following options are available:
See all participants on video
Screen Share – choose which screen to share if you have multiple monitors or to just share an application
Chat with participants – private chat within the meeting
Create private and public groups to enable private and public chat and file sharing
Get reactions – clapping hands or raised hand
Share a Whiteboard
Use Breakout Rooms for small private workgroups
Use Polls and Q&A
Connects with other apps via add-ins and extensions
Is Zoom only online?
Zoom has a desktop app as well as the ability to run completely in the browser. If you do not want to install the desktop application, you don’t have to. However, Zoom in the browser, runs best in Chrome and has less functionality than the desktop application. There is also an app you can download for your mobile for both Android and IOS. This means you can attend a meeting from any device including the web.
It also integrates with Outlook Gmail or iCal allowing you to schedule meetings directly from your calendar. Use it on your mobile via the mobile app whether for Android or IOS.
Microsoft Teams is the new kid on the block and has only been around since 2016. It is part of your Office 365 for Business subscription and features extensions that can interface with many other applications for productivity.
What does Microsoft Teams do?
Microsoft Teams is a communication hub. It is slowly replacing Skype for Business.
It is much more than a video conferencing software though.
Creation of Teams for collaboration
Creation of Channels inside Teams – a Channel is like a sub team. So you can have team members belonging to particular channels to keep discussion more private.
Invite members of your organisation to the Team
Invite external guests to a Team (they do not have to be in your organisation) in fact they don’t even need to have Teams – they can use the Browser based app.
Chat within a Channel with all Channel members
Create Private Channels to keep sensitive discussion private or for small groups to come together
Online meetings from anywhere – where you can share screen, share whiteboard, chat
Turn a chat into an online meeting
File Storage – each Channel has its own file storage area where all documents are available to all members of the Team/Channel
Additional apps can be added to Channels to facilitate other types of work, such as a Trello Board or even a Zoom meeting!
Use a Whiteboard app within your team or meeting
Have meeting notes
Is Microsoft Teams only on the desktop?
Just like Zoom, Microsoft Teams can be used in the browser or on the desktop and has an app for both Android and IOS. This means that you can use Microsoft Teams anywhere and everywhere. The browser version has full functionality and the mobile apps have almost full functionality. Attend a meeting from your phone or browser, chat with other team members and see any notifications.
A deeper dive – Zoom
Starting off again with Zoom let us take a deeper dive into what you can do and what it looks like.
When you need to host a meeting with work colleagues or even friends, Zoom is easy to set up and simple to use. This has been demonstrated in the recent Covid-19 pandemic with literally millions of new users of Zoom. Zoom is now being used to host business meetings, workshops training sessions and social gatherings.
How does it work?
Set up an account with Zoom.us install the app and get scheduling.
Who can I meet with?
You can meet with anyone – so long as you have their email address as you will need to send them an email invitation that contains a link to the meeting.
How do I start the meeting and how do my attendees join?
When it is time to begin the meeting, you can start it from the app, from the web or from the meeting invite which will be in your calendar.
Do I have lots of controls of the meeting?
Yes, as the host there are things you can do to make the meeting run smoothly. From enabling the waiting room so that you can admit your attendees one by one (and make sure only the invited are joining you) to adding participants to Break Out rooms for small group work.
You can share a whiteboard, or your screen and you also have the ability to mute everyone and to stop incoming video – useful if lots of bandwidth is being used. Manage the meeting participants and decide who can present, or who is an attendee.
There are many things that you can do in a Zoom meeting however this article is not a How to Use Zoom – there is plenty of information out there on Zoom and how to use it – in fact Zoom has lots of very good information and help.
A deeper dive – Microsoft Teams
Now let’s take a look at Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams is a completely different kettle of fish to Zoom. Yes, you can have your online meetings using Microsoft Teams however it does a whole lot more.
How does it work?
As it is part of your Office 365 Business subscription – you are good to go. You can add external guests who too. External guests have broadly the same functionality as members of your own organisation. You retain control of what they can and can’t do as guest users.
Who can I meet with?
Meet with anyone inside your organisation or any external people too. So long as you have their email address you can invite them to a meeting.
How do I start the meeting?
From within your personal calendar in Microsoft Teams, click the join button, from the meeting request that shows up in your Outlook Calendar, from the meeting reminder that pops up click Join online.
Do I have lots of controls in the Meeting?
When you set up the meeting, there are a few things that you can control, such as who can join straight away and who needs to wait in the lobby plus who can be a presenter or attendee. Once in the meeting, you can share your desktop, invite other participants, chat with participants, share an application or a whiteboard or a document.
If the meeting is with members of the team, be they internal or external guest, you can collaborate on files directly within the meeting too. Each person can open a file and work on it simultaneously. Then the host or a designated presenter can share the results.
As the host, you have the ability to mute everyone and turn off their video either for everyone at once or individually – and by the end of April 2020 you will be able to end the meeting for all.
Not just meetings
Microsoft Teams is not just for meetings though. See the scenario below:
Let me set the scene:
You work in an organisation or you work primarily on your own be that as a Virtual Assistant or any other kind of freelancer or small business.
You need to work with other people as a Team. For example, perhaps you work with another VA who provides complimentary services to some of your clients.
With Microsoft Teams you can set up a Team and invite the other VA to the Team. In the Team you create Channels for different topics. Could be by client or subject – for example Newsletters or Blogs or Admin or Social Media – you get the idea
Once you have your channels set up with members – be they part of your organisation or guests, you can share files with them in order to collaborate. Chat with other members of the Channel either as a group or privately and of course have online meetings.
Not only that, you can add other applications into a Channel to enable further productivity. Things like Microsoft Forms to gather feedback, Polly for creating polls, use Microsoft Whiteboard in the channel and a whole lot more. You can even add Zoom as an add- in to Teams and run your meetings from there. In Teams you get to see up to four people on screen – so if you need to see all 49 attendees, you could add in Zoom and run your online meetings using Zoom as an add-in. As Zoom does allow you to see up to 40 participants on screen.
Online meetings can take place right there inside Microsoft Teams in whichever channel you choose, and you can add external people to an online meeting just like Zoom.
What about Subscription levels and cost?
There are several offerings starting with the Free one.
This is what Zoom says about its Free Plan. – Zoom offers a full-featured Basic Plan for free with unlimited meetings. Try Zoom for as long as you like – there is no trial period. Your Basic plan as a 40 minutes time limit on meetings with three or more total participants. Need your group meetings to last longer than 40 minutes, sign up for a Pro Account.
Pricing correct at April 1 2020
Microsoft Teams will not cost you any extra unless you don’t have an Office 365 Business Subscription.
There is a feature called a Live Broadcast which allows you to broadcast to up to 10,000 people either internally or externally. For this you will need an Enterprise License.
There is also the option of adding a telephone system into Teams to allow you to use it like a telephone.
What about a Free version?
Microsoft also has a free version of Microsoft Teams – you can get it here – scroll almost to the bottom of the page and choose Sign up for free. It comes with guest access, 1:1 and group online video and audio calls, Teams and Channels, Screen sharing. You cannot schedule meetings and it has less storage than the business version.
Which one should I use?
Well, that is going to depend on your business, how you work and what you want to do. In fact, you could use both if you wanted to – I do, depending on the situation.
I use Microsoft Teams with my VA – we manage all our business communication through Teams, file sharing as we both have access to all the documents or pictures etc. It has reduced the number of communication channels – before using Teams we would communicate by email, WhatsApp, messenger, or text. Now everything is in the team in the relevant Channel and it is all much clearer.
I have online meetings using Teams in the same way as Zoom and I also deliver training using Microsoft Teams too. Whether that is a simple one to one screen share or a more involved session.
As to Zoom, well sometimes I use that as it is what feels familiar to others. I attend lots of meetings via Zoom too
What help is available?
For Zoom you will find plenty of help on their site. Tutorials and documents showing you what to do and how to do it.
Similarly, Microsoft has lots of excellent resources on Microsoft Teams.
Or if you want to find out how to use Microsoft Teams in your business as a Virtual Assistant or freelancer, I have a course for you
I am also working on a course showing you how to use Microsoft Teams if you are a Trainer Speaker or Coach. This will include all the content from the original course plus extra content on how to use it to deliver remote training courses or workshops, speaking engagements or one to one coaching. Contact me for details of when it will be released.
Get the course How to Use Microsoft Teams before the price rise at the end of April – This link will take you directly to the special price How to Use Microsoft Teams or sign up for the waiting list to find out when the course for Trainers Speakers and Coaches will be available.
Comment below and tell me which of the two you will choose.
It seems to dominate the news around the world at the moment. I’m talking, of course, about this horrible Coronavirus pandemic.
Touchwood, my family and I are all well at the moment. Although we did cut short our trip and came back to Israel early. We are in Self Isolation at the moment as the rules here are anyone coming home from abroad must quarantine for 14 days. Our neighbours have been amazing dropping off essential supplies and I have done my online shopping here for the first time too.
Please do follow the advice given by the health experts and do all you need to do to take care.
It may not feel as if there’s much good news around but life and business do go on.
And in a curious way, the response to the outbreak of COVID-19 does create opportunities for the VA who has got to grips with all the collaborative power that Microsoft Office offers.
As you may have seen on the news, many big brand companies – including Apple, Amazon and Google – are encouraging employees to work remotely.
Their corporate lead will be followed by smaller businesses, for sure.
To be successful, remote working requires excellent communications and access to collaborative tools.
Microsoft Teams is one of the solutions to that challenge. It offers:
Secure flow and storage of information in one central place
Voice or video calls and meetings, linking inside and outside the organisation
Chat messaging between groups or teams within the company
Real-time and easy collaboration on documents
Flexible channel and project setups for how you work best
In a world where agile working is one of the hottest trends, companies are looking for reliable solutions to help get the best out of their teams.
Because of this virus outbreak, we’re going to see – for many, many months ahead at least – businesses using fewer in-person huddle, scrums or micro meetings.
As increasing numbers look to remote working, they are going to be making more use of the collaborative functions provided by tech giants like Microsoft.
That means there’s likely to be a sudden spike in the demand for and use of the Teams tool.
If you are a VA who is already using it – and knows it inside out – you are going to have a ready advantage in the market.
Not only will you be able to demonstrate to prospects and clients your expertise in working with Teams. You will also be able to help less-confident clients set things up, and maybe even train some of their people.
Because Teams is also a great productivity tool, you and those you serve will both benefit.
If you haven’t done so already, ensure you highlight your Teams credentials on your website, in your marketing and during your conversations.
Don’t assume people know what you do or what you know. Tell them.
I’m not making light of what’s going on out there in each country, it really has shocked the world. But to survive and thrive in business you do have to see opportunities and take action.
Not in an unethical, money-grabbing or selfish way, of course. That’s not how a professional VA would ever act.
When you operate in service of others, you can put your hand on your heart and say you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Businesses need our help. Go serve them the best way you know-how.
If you’re not yet familiar with how to use Microsoft Teams you can always get up to speed with my online course.
It covers all the essentials you need to get started and use it with clients. How to set it all up, how to use ‘channels’, how to use the chat, how to run meetings, and how to collaborate the smarter way with documents.
Learn at your own pace, where you want, when you want. The course is yours for life so you can pop back in whenever you need a quick refresher.