Teams - best practices

Microsoft Teams brings meetings, tools and content together. You can create and edit files, communicate via video or instant messages and use the other Office 365 software directly through Teams.

Teams is a cloud service enabling easy and efficient group work online. What makes Teams different from services such as Jabber and other chat software is that it allows you to divide the Team to different channels.

Microsoft’s Teams application can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux workstations as well as on mobile devices through the app (install the app in your device’s app store). If you cannot or do not want to install the application, Teams can also be used through the browser. The recommended browser is Chrome.

Key terminology used in the instructions

  • Teams = the entire software/application 
  • Chat = a quick discussion between two people or a small group
  • Team = An area created in Teams for a specific group
  • Channel = An area in Teams to have a discussion about a specific topic. Remember to give the channels explicit names; well-named channels help all the users to find the right channels for their discussions.
  • Thread = A discussion on a specific topic. A discussion in a Team/channel.
When sharing confidential information, please take into account that Teams is a cloud service. Learn more on the cloud service policy in Flamma.

Start by watching the video: Welcome to Microsoft Teams

Visit these instructions for more videos

Quick tips for Teams

  • Always write your replies in a thread 
    • If you have accidentally posted your reply as a new thread, you can always copy and paste it to the correct thread and delete the new thread (see instructions in Editing and deleting a message)
  • Adjust the notification settings of the Teams application to suit your preferences (Microsoft guide) 
    • You can adjust the notifications of individual channels (Channel Notifications)
  • Show the most interesting channels and Teams and hide those you are not interested in: 
    • Click on the three dots (•••) next to the name of the Team/channel > Show / Hide.
    • You can pin your most important channels/Teams to the top of the Teams list
  • Your Teams status will follow the status in your Outlook calendar (e.g. ‘busy’ when you are attending a meeting) but notifications of received messages will still be shown to you. If necessary, you can block popups by changing your status to Do not disturb. 
    • You can switch to this status quickly by typing /dnd in the search field at the top of the screen.
    • The search field also has other quick links behind the / - and  @ characters
  • Make sure your messages are noticed by tagging people (@name), an entire channel (@channel) or an entire Team (@team) in them  
    • You can also create a group of the Team members and tag the group
  • Use the format option to edit your channel messages 
    • You can format links, bold, underline, highlight, etc.
    • You can also send the same message to more than one channel/Team
    • You can also add links to other messages, Team files or external websites
  • If you need more specific topics, you can create new channels under the Team 
    • If necessary, the channel can be moderated (e.g. channel for news only) '•••' > Manage Channel
  • It is also possible to create a hidden channel only visible to the members added to that specific channel (the users must be members of the Team)  
    • This is usually a better idea than creating an entirely new Team
  • The chat is the best place for discussions between two people. The chat history will be stored for 6 months. 
    • More participants can be added to a chat during the discussion. When adding new people, you can choose whether the new members get to see the entire chat history or whether to create a new discussion.
  • Team members can be assigned tags (e.g. manage Team > Members) which can be used to target notifications or start a chat group @tag_name
  • Quick editing in chat: use the upwards arrow on the keyboard to quickly edit your previous comment. Press Enter to save the changes.
  • You can save an individual channel message in your “links list”. You can find the list by clicking on your profile picture > Saved.

See more instructions from Detailed help tab

Chat and Teams (Teams groups)

In Teams, you can communicate in the public channels/Teams and in private chat messages.

Chat 

A chat is a discussion between two people or a small group. In a chat, you can write, create and edit materials together using the Office software and share them. The chat has no owners; all the chat participants are equal members.

Teams (groups in the Teams software)

Teams are permanent communication platforms for a larger groups where you can create various channels for different topics and groups of people. You can add up to 5,000 users to a Team. A specific Sharepoint space is created for the Team. Files shared between the Team are stored in Sharepoint. 
As Teams always communicate in threads, make sure that your replies are relevant to the topic. However, if you have posted a reply as a new thread, you can always delete it (see instructions below).

Please note that the thread with the most recent messages will always be moved to the bottom. 

The messages in a Team will be stored ‘permanently’ until the Team/channel is deleted. After this, you can restore the messages within the next 30 days. After the 30 days, the Team/channel will be permanently deleted and even the administrators will not be able to restore it.

Deleting and restoring a Team/channel 

The messages in a Team and their attachments will be stored ‘permanently’ until the Team/channel is deleted. 

Deleting and restoring a channel 

To delete a channel, click the ••• symbol after the channel. Select Delete channel

After this, you can restore the channel within the next 30 days yourself. After the 30 days, the channel will be permanently deleted and even the administrators will not be able to restore it. 

To restore a channel, go to the Team settings. Select Channels > Deleted

Deleting the entire Team 

A Team is deleted in the same way, but this deletes ALL the Team files and messages. Note that only Office 365 administration can restore a deleted Team. You can contact it through Helpdesk.  

To delete a Team, click the ••• symbol after the Team. Select Delete the team

Modifying the display settings and other settings

You can adjust the appearance and settings of Teams by clicking on your picture in the top right-hand side corner of the window. In the menu, select Settings

Your saved settings will be stored across all platforms; you only need to modify them once and the appearance will be the same everywhere.

In the settings, you can adjust the theme and the layout. In the layout list, we recommend trying the List to see all the chats/Teams in a single list (the default option is Grid).
There are also settings related to starting the software (in Application): You can, for example, set Teams to open automatically when starting the computer (Auto-start program).

If Teams seems slow, you can try to check the option Disable GPU hardware acceleration (this requires that you restart the software).

Installing Teams

For university computers, Teams can be found as an optional installation in the Software Center (Windows) or the Managed Software Center (Mac). The software is also available in Cubbli, but users have reported that Teams works better through a browser. 

Install Teams on your home computer at: https://teams.microsoft.com/downloads

  • The installation will not require administrator rights.

After installation, log in to the service using your credentials in format:
username@ad.helsinki.fi (e.g. rkeskiva@ad.helsinki.fi)

Creating a Team

We recommend taking your time when creating a Team and carefully considering the purposes for which the Team will be used. It is often a good idea to create a Team that is as multipurpose as possible (for example, a Team used by an entire faculty or department) and create smaller group channels under the team for different groups of people and different purposes. It is possible to create both public groups and hidden channels limited to specific users (see also instructions for creating channels). 

In the Teams menu, you will see the link Join or create a team at the bottom of the Teams list.

Give the Team an explicit name and describe the purpose of the Team. When creating a new Team, use the abbreviation of your department with a hyphen in order to avoid misunderstandings (e.g. YPA-, Tike-, MMTDK-). Administration may rename or remove incorrectly or inappropriately named Teams.

Determining the privacy level of a Team – who can see the Team (public vs hidden).

Add the members to the list (start typing the name to see suggestions). You can also use IAM groups, but note that any changes to the IAM group will not be updated in the list of Team users.

Once you have found the name on the list, select it and click Add.

You can determine the necessary rights for individual people: Member or Owner.

We recommend having more than one owner in the Team to ensure the Team can function without interruptions during holidays and absences. Helpdesk does not have the right to edit Teams. Only the Office 365 administration can edit Teams, but not unless it is absolutely necessary.

Once all the people have been added to the group, you can Close the window. 

Channels

You can create channels for various purposes/topics in a Team. There may be several smaller channels in a large Team. This is better than creating several Teams as a large number of Teams means that the discussion is dispersed and, at its worst, the same topic may be discussed separately across several Teams.

We do not recommend creating new Teams for smaller groups in a larger Team. If you want to communicate with a smaller group, create a private channel.

A private channel is visible only to the group members and there is a lock-icon next to the name of the channel. 

Editing or deleting a message

Teams communicate in threads. If you have accidentally posted your reply as a new thread, you can always copy and paste it to the correct thread and delete the misdirected reply.

Here is an example of a misdirected reply: 

  You can edit a sent message by clicking on the three dots in the emoticon menu (which opens automatically when you hover your cursor over the message) > click Edit. This opens the editor where you can edit your message. Click Enter to save your changes. 

You can delete a sent message by clicking on the three dots in the emoticon menu (which opens automatically when you hover your cursor over the message) > click Delete.

The message is deleted. You can restore the deleted message by clicking Undo

Notifications

Show the most interesting channels and Teams and hide those you are not interested in.  

Click on  '•••' next to the name of the Team/channel > Show / Hide 

We recommend only using the Do Not Disturb status if you are attending a meeting or need to focus. We do not recommend using the status all the time as it blocks all messages and notifications. 
Remember to always respect your colleagues’ DnD status.

Editing

You can edit a message. Click on the [A] icon at the bottom of the text field to see all the editing options. Please note: in this section, pressing Enter adds a line break, whereas otherwise it means Send. Send the message by clicking on the arrow icon at the bottom corner.

Announcements

In addition to a normal thread, you can also create an Announcement. In the message field, click on the A icon and then the New Conversation menu. In the new menu, select Announcement.

Example of an announcement:

Tags   

Especially in large Teams, we do not alerting (tagging) the entire channel or Team but targeting the message to a smaller group. Other members will be able to see the message, but the tags tell them that this message may not concern them. 

You can tag people by typing their name: @name. It is also possible to tag the individuals in a specific group (e.g. on-site support, Helpdesk). You can manage tags and the related individuals in the Team settings (note that tags are Team-specific).

Example of tagging a person:

You can catch the attention of the individuals related to the tag as follows: Type @tag (e.g. @Tukikanava) and the message will be highlighted for the users related to the tag. 

You can manage tags in the Team settings. Click on the three dots next to the Team name and select Manage team (1) or Manage tags (2). 

Through Manage Team > Members , you can see the Team members and their tags. You can also see the members who do not yet have tags.

The Manage Tags option is the easiest way to view existing tags. You can also see Your tags. 

Adding an RSS feed to a team

A team administrator can add a new application (App) to a team, (see instructions on this page below). Any team member can then add an RSS feed to the channel of their choice.

Choose a channel to which you want to add an RSS feed. Click on the three dots next to the channel name > Connectors.  Alternatively, you can open the channel and right-click on the three dots in the upper right corner.

A window opens with a list of Connectors. Find RSS in the list and click Configure.

Fill in the fields:

  • Enter a descriptive name for the RSS feed (for example, HY interruptions)
  • Give the address for .rss feed: https://od.helsinki.fi/katko/katkot.rss
  • Choose digest frequency or how often the feed is updated. In this example, the update frequency is set at every 15 minutes.

Last, you’ll see a view where you can see the connectors added to the channel. You can add other connectors from this view. Click on the X in the upper right corner to close.

You will return to the team channel and a notification will appear informing you that you have added an RSS feed to that channel.  
The interruption notifications appear according to a defined schedule (e.g. every 15 minutes).

To edit an RSS feed, click the three dots at the top of the feed > select Connectors from the drop-down menu.

Find Configured in the menu on the left and click 1 Configured > Manage.

You can edit a previously added RSS feed and, if necessary, delete the feed.

Administrator instructions

Click on the three dots next to the channel name > Manage team.

Select Apps tab. Select RSS from the list. If the app is not found on the list, select More Apps.

Type rss in the search field. Click the RSS box.

Add the RSS app to your team by choosing Add to a team.

Once an RSS app is added, anyone on the team can add an RSS feed to the channel of their choice on that team. Note that you must add Connectors separately for each team.

More tips

Here are some other features you can try:

  • You can pin your most important Teams/chats to the top of the view. Click on ••• next to the name of the Team/chat and select Pin
  • You can name the chat according to the topic (please note that chats should usually be used to discuss a single topic, in which case naming them is a good idea to keep the discussion relevant to the topic). Name the chat by clicking on the pencil icon: 

 

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