Microsoft Teams – Meetings, chats, shifts and guest access explained

Microsoft Teams is the fastest growing business app in Microsoft history

If you are new to the use of Microsoft Teams due to the social distancing measures adopted to fight coronavirus spread, this article might help you.

Since its launch, Microsoft Teams is gaining more and more attention. The success is a result of the useful features and easy integration. The application is basically a hub for teamwork integrating tools and capabilities to help works in their daily routine. It’s the primary client for Intelligent Communications in Office 365, replacing Skype for Business Online over time.

According to the numbers released by Microsoft more than 329000 organisations are already using Teams. Out of 87 of these companies belong to the Fortune 100 list. Teams it’s also available in 44 languages and a considerable amount of theses companies have more than 10000 active users. This impressive data demonstrates why Teams is getting so much attention and have the potential to grow even more.

Features focused on productivity are always welcome in the market and with businesses creating more and more work remote schemes, it’s essential to have the most adequate tools to keep productivity levels and collaboration between employees. Among the features, Teams is a powerful hub for meetings, devices, calling, collaboration, and app development.

New Tools for Meetings

Microsoft announced new capabilities to make online meetings easier and productive.

Background blur: Users can remove distractions and focus the video on what matters most, which means that you don’t need to worry about your background while doing that meeting with your colleagues.

Meeting recording: As the name suggests, you can record your meetings, so you or other invitees who missed the meeting can playback recorded audio, video and content at any time. You can also search for keywords and optimise your time, thanks to a transcript powered by Microsoft Stream.

Cloud video interop: Companies that already have room technology investments can bring it into Teams as well. Through partner offerings from Polycom, BlueJeans, and Pexip, a full portfolio of legacy devices can now be full-fledged audio/video participants in Teams meetings with content sharing.

Tailored Experiences Focus on Roles and Industries

Teams brought new tailored options to industry-specific and role-based workflows. For example, there are more than 2.5 billion first-line workers worldwide – that’s a group that includes factory workers, store clerks, and electricians, among other roles. Focused on this industry Microsoft announced new capabilities in Teams to help first-line workers in their daily routine.


With Home, first-line workers can clock in and out of shifts/breaks, receive important notes for the day or shift, find out who is working during the shift and save time by easily reviewing information and schedule.


It’s a feature to enable first-line managers to plan schedules in an employee self-service and integrated experience. They can create, update and distribute schedules for teams as well as broadcast open and unfilled shifts so that other employees can cover them. Finally, they can review and accept time off requests and swap shifts – all from mobile. For first-line employees, they can swap/offer shifts and request time off, right from their phones.



Security and Compliance Needs

Some industries require more security features than others. To this audience, Microsoft is releasing two new secure messaging features, which are particularly relevant to the healthcare segment.  Image annotation and priority notifications. These capabilities support HIPAA compliance and enable clinicians to communicate about patients while avoiding the privacy risks that arise when healthcare professionals use consumer chat apps, for example.

Image annotation – capture images, annotate, and share them on a secure platform. IT Admins can set policies to prevent images from being stored on a mobile device or local drive.

Priority notifications – alert the recipient to an urgent message and automatically notify the recipient every two minutes for up to twenty minutes.

Microsoft also announced the expansion of its device portfolio to provide a better experience for Teams users. These devices across personal and shared spaces are made possible through partners, such as AudioCodes, Crestron, HP, Jabra, Lenovo, Logitech, Polycom, Plantronics, and Yealink. You can check the list of integrated devices clicking here.

Guest Access

Since Microsoft Teams was announced one of the requests was the integration with guests from outside the organisation. The feature is available now is one more option to facilitate the professional’s daily activity.

Guest access allows professionals to collaborate with people outside the organisation by granting them access to existing teams and channels on one or more of the tenants. Anyone with a business or consumer email accounts, such as Outlook, Gmail, or others, can participate as a guest in Teams with full access to chats, meetings, and files.

The name of the feature is Guest access and it’s included with all Office 365 Business Premium, Office 365 Enterprise, and Office 365 Education subscriptions with no additional licensing required. You can have up to 5 guests per licensed user on your tenant.

Examples of who can be a guest

Literally a guest from the Microsoft Teams perspective is someone who doesn’t have a school or work account with your organisation. For example, guests may include partners, vendors, suppliers, or consultants. Anyone who is not part of your organization can be added as a guest in Teams. This means that anyone with a business account (that is, an Azure Active Directory account) or a consumer email account (with, or others) can participate as a guest in Teams, with full access to teams and channel experiences.

The difference between guest access and external access (federation)

Guest access gives access permission to an individual and External access gives access permission to an entire domain.

Once Guest access is granted by a team owner, it allows a guest to access resources, such as channel discussions and files, for a specific team, and chat with other users in the team they have been invited to. With external access (federated chat), the external chat participants have no access to the inviting organization’s teams or team resources. They can only participate in one-on-one federated chat.

Tenant admins can choose between the two communication options depending on which level of collaboration is desirable with the external party. Admins can choose either approaches or both, depending on their organizational needs. Microsoft recommends enabling guest access for a fuller, collaborative Teams experience.

All guests in Teams are covered by the same compliance and auditing protection as the rest of Office 365, and can be managed securely within Azure AD.

Improved Develop Tools

One of the core values of Teams is the developer platform, which provides organisations the possibility to extend their experience with development tools and third-party integrations.

Platform Enhancements

To improve the Teams experience for developers, Microsoft announced the general availability of Adaptive Cards, which provide rich, interactive, and flexible card system that works across Teams, Outlook, Windows, and Cortana. 

Task Module Integration

A tool that enables a rich popup experience using either an adaptive card or embedded web content. They also recently released the Teams App Studio Enhancements. The feature allows developers to perform the below actions from within the App:

  • Register and manage your AAD App and Bot directly within App Studio
  • A revamped card editor with a new design allowing for editing multiple cards
  • Convenient one-click side loading and testing of your app
  • .NET and Node.js support for Bot Framework 4.x is coming soon (in preview)

Microsoft Teams is quickly emerging as one of the most rapidly growing extensibility surfaces in Office 365. All the new API’s, integration with SharePoint, security features for data and more are some of their most attractive features. You can check an extensive list of features at this link provided by Microsoft and which served as a source for our article.

*The article above is based on the information provided by Microsoft in this link.

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At New Horizons Ireland, one of the leaders on delivering Microsoft courses we offer a wide range of courses. From all levels of IT professionals to end-users. Check it out with one of our Account Managers and choose the best option for your needs.

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