At some point, every professional Assistant is going to encounter Microsoft Teams. So, it pays to get to know it – and how to get the most out of it.

Many clients, executives and project teams will already be using Microsoft Teams as their default communications and collaboration tool. It offers messaging, chat, video calls, voice calls, video conferencing, presentation and document sharing, file storage and much more.

To maximise productivity with Microsoft Teams it is important to set it up correctly, follow best communication practices and take advantage of the key integrated applications available for this collaborative hub.

Setting Up and Organising Microsoft Teams for Effective Collaboration

Microsoft is evolving its ecosystem to help people work productively in a hybrid working world.

Microsoft Teams is already the dominant player in the hybrid working market and is routinely being developed to improve the ‘working together’ experience for people – whether in the office, at home or on the go.

The powerful communications and collaboration tool does need some care with setting up and organising for effective collaboration. For the savvy Assistant, it means thinking about what type of work or project you are involved in, who is in the team and where people are based.

Setting up the essentials of Microsoft Teams the right way will help everyone to get things done with least hassle and highest productivity.

This means setting up Teams and Channels effectively, making use of Tasks, Planner and To Do and getting familiar with a host of other applications that come with Microsoft 365 that can help you get your project underway.

Microsoft Teams gives the savvy Assistant – and the people they work with – versatility and flexibility.

Applications like SharePoint, OneNote and Planner can be brought into Microsoft Teams to make communications easier and collaboration more effective. Teams also makes it easy to gather in integrated apps from the outside – such as, Trello, Slack and Mural – and let you work with them all from within Teams.

Getting to grips with, and leading on, Microsoft Teams will give the smart VA, PA or EA and advantage over assistants who have not yet added this tool to their skills portfolio.

Following Best Practices for Communicating in Microsoft Teams Channels

For team projects in Microsoft Teams, communication is organised into Channels. This allows relevant team members to work together, share ideas, discuss and work on projects to completion.

By following best practices for communicating in Microsoft Teams Channels, the savvy Assistant can be confident of clarity and unnecessary distraction. Everyone is kept in the loop, able to find the documents they need when they need them, and can contribute to driving ideas forward.

Individual or group chats are fine for one-off matters between people. For anything involving ongoing teamwork you’ll want to create a Team or Channel, and label them in a sensible manner.

Best practice includes creating Channels and making good choices about how you’re communicating with others. Will a chat message suffice, or do you need to jump on a call? Can you make do with a group chat or is a Teams Meeting more appropriate?

The smart Assistant will be able to find the relevant chat history, files and documents –  saved in the relevant Channel –  and make use of applications which seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Teams. This is all part of collaborating on documents in Teams.

Following some simple rules of etiquette will help to avoid problems over notifications, tagging, emojis and location status.

Using Microsoft Teams for Project Management and Task Tracking

Microsoft Teams, with its intuitive communications and collaboration functionality, is the ideal tool for project management. Plan, organise and track everything for maximum productivity and the best outcomes.

With Microsoft Teams, every feature and application is available in one space. It’s a smart way to streamline workflows, and to keep tasks and projects on track. Using Microsoft Teams for project management and task tracking simply makes good sense.

As with any productivity tool, it’s how you use it that counts.

Clients and organisations tend to have their own preferences for the applications they use for business communications. Today’s modern Assistant may have to master several different project management tools.

Many of these tools integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Teams so people can work with them directly within Teams. These include, Slack, Trello, Mural, MindMeister and many more.

Understanding how each app works and can support a project in Microsoft Teams is becoming a key skill for the savvy Assistant.

Integrating Other Apps Like SharePoint, OneNote and Planner into Microsoft Teams

And, of course, the Microsoft ecosystem itself offers a series of interconnected applications and tools to help people get work done with efficiency. The productive Assistant can make use of apps like SharePoint, Project, Planner, Lists, Tasks and To Do to collaborate on projects and stay on track.

Using Microsoft Teams for only Chat and Teams Meetings is a bit like owning a Ferrari and living in a 20mph zone. There is so much more power waiting to be unleashed on the road.

The importance of integrating other apps like SharePoint, OneNote and Planner into Microsoft Teams cannot be overstated.

Today’s VA, EA and PA has to be organised and up to speed with the tools of the trade. Microsoft’s ecosystem is designed so its own apps do their job yet also interconnect with other applications.

Apps work at different levels. Planner is good for simpler projects. For projects with more complexity, Microsoft gives you Project.

Familiarising yourself with the Microsoft ecosystem and how applications work within Microsoft Teams is a smart move for any forward-thinking or career-minded professional Assistant.

Microsoft Teams and Assistants – Paired for Greater Productivity

If you’ve been working with Microsoft technology for as long as I have, you’ll know that tools and applications have evolved over the decades – to meet the changing needs of people, teams and organisations.

Everyone is familiar with Microsoft Office. That became Microsoft 365. Within 365 we have tools like Microsoft Teams, all of the tools continue to be fine-tuned to deliver a better user experience.

The rise of hybrid working throughout the world has pushed Microsoft Teams to the fore as the leading unified communications, collaboration and productivity tool. For the professional Assistant the question is not if you will use Teams but when will you use Teams?

Clients and organisations using Teams will expect VAs, PAs and EAs to know Microsoft Teams well – and perhaps even guide their people on how best to use it. When you understand how it all works together you will be able to maximise productivity and showcase even more of your value.

Shelley Fishel - The MS Office Maestro
Posted in TomorrowsVa, Microsoft Teams, Teams

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I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney