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How to activate ‘festive mode’ on Microsoft Teams

24 Dec 2018 by Becci Velzian

Not to say we haven’t learned anything else this year, but I feel our biggest learning curve as a company has been our continued adoption of Microsoft Teams. We absolutely love it and are always excited to try out its new features. So, before we all depart for a well-deserved festive break, I thought I would leave you with some golden nuggets for Teams over Christmas.

Our CTO, and long-time Microsoft MVP Paul Robichaux showed us this one and it’s a real saviour when you’re out of office over the Christmas break. If you’re intermittently working and need to be on standby for a project, but you don’t want to get sucked into checking your notifications and emails, the “quiet hours” feature is your new best friend. What this feature does is mute your notifications for the hours you’ve selected but enables them to come through when you want them. You can switch this on by going on to the settings of your phone and amending the notifications to quiet hours, then selecting which hours or days you want quiet. Additionally, if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to have a better work life balance, you can use this feature on evenings and weekends where needed.

Two more handy little features just in time for the festive holiday are the “Group Call Pick Up” and “Shared Line Appearance” options. If you’re away entertaining family or friends, but your boss really needs to speak to you or one of your colleagues, you can set this feature up so a custom group can answer your calls. Alternatively, if there’s not that many of you around, you can use the “Shared line appearance” feature enabling you to choose a team member to answer the call on your behalf.

If you’re working from home over Christmas (because you’ve blown all your holiday in the summer) you may have a couple of meetings you need to jump on. However, maybe you’ve got the family pottering around in the background, or some embarrassing childhood photos behind you in your study you would rather your co-workers didn’t see! Time to use the background blur. This Teams feature (introduced at Ignite this year) is perfect for hazing out any distractions from your video call. I also love the example they used in their introductory video.

Over the Christmas holiday, there might be a few last-minute presentations to cram in on Teams. Your colleague is presenting, but there is one point in a slide you want to revisit, however because you’re not physically present your colleague just isn’t understanding what slide you’re getting at. This is where the “request control” button will make its debut; the presenter will then be given the option to “give control”, once given you’ll be able to click or comment on whatever slide you want. This was a much-loved feature in Skype, so I’m glad it’s made a comeback for Teams.

Due to the nature of Teams, it keeps people connected for collaboration but also enabled better social interaction than IM services like Skype, because everything stays in one place, and conversations can pick up where they left off. This means that it can be used for social networking and keeping employees connected with each other, and we love sharing our experiences on there and commenting. So, if you haven’t already, why not add a “Tell me something good channel”? Then over Christmas or when you’re back, you can share your serious food goals, something exciting or maybe your cat being all cute next to the Christmas tree. The brandy on top of the Christmas pudding for global companies is that it’s great for team building and getting everyone connected, even if you are working remotely.

This is more of a Christmas gift rather than a tip. Microsoft have introduced a new You will still be able to view your cards, calendar and any communications. However, it’s just so much easier to join forces on projects by assigning each other cards and having itemized calendars to stay on track for deadlines. Looking forward to using this one on my projects in the new year!