• Amanda Sterner

Community voices about news in Microsoft Teams

Updated: Jun 9

A lot of exciting thing have happened the last couple of weeks, both in terms of new functionality in Microsoft Teams and in terms of things to look forward to in the future. Instead of me just telling you about some of the things I find interesting I thought I’d invite four of my friends from the community to share their though as well ✨🤗.


Karoliina Kettukari, Queen of Microsoft Teams user adoption and amazing speaker – see more what she does at her page https://www.kettukari.fi/, works at Sulava in Finland


Linus Cansby, blogs at http://www.lync.se/, talks in his and Mårtens podcast Teamspodden and co-organizer of Teamsdagen, works at Uclarity in Sweden


Mårten Hellebro, mastermind behind Teamsdagen, blogs at https://www.msteamsswe.se/ and pods with Linus in Teamspodden, works at CloudWay in Sweden


Chris Hoard, one of the organizer of European Teams User Group and virtual conference Teamsfest, blogs at https://microsoft365pro.co.uk/, Chris is a certification pro so be sure to check out his blog for tips and tricks, works at Vuzion in UK


Thanks for tagging along, it will be amazing to hear a spread of voices 💖!


And what would a post be without my thoughts 😉.


Features available now

Let’s begin with a few features that are available now.


Pop out chat

There’s been a lot of buzz around pop out chat in Microsoft Teams, and from reading the discussion in the community some like it and some don’t. By clicking a little icon which you’ll find in several places you can pop out a chat. Which bring me to the first question:

Question 1 - Pop out chat – yea or nay?


Karoliina – For me personally - nay, it feels old-fashioned. Having everything under one window in Teams is the most convenient for me. But people have talked and people seem to love that feature, so I guess there are lots of use cases for that.


Linus – I’ve not used it more than that I tested it a couple of times, but it is good that the feature is here now so it is possible to use it. I had one meeting when I wanted to pop out the chat in a separate windows so I could keep track on the participants to see if there were any raised hands and at the same time read the chat, but unfortunately it is not possible to pop out meeting chats. I think I will use pop out for meetings more than I will pop out chats when pop out comes for meetings and calls. But even if I have not used pop out for chats so much it is good to have that feature since it was requested by many users.


Mårten – Nay, I already have too many open windows on my computer.


Chris – Yea. I could talk about it from the whole screen real estate perspective but I feel it's more necessary from a choice perspective. Pop out chat give users choice. It's also another tick in the box for those who came over from Skype and felt this functionality was lacking. Personally? I haven't used it much. Over the last few years I've gotten used to using the whole screen with the client. The chats I typically have with people are short and I try to avoid rolling conversations which kill focus and productivity. Thirdly, pop out's feel very, well, old for a new functionality. But multiwindow for chats is, of course, only the first stage and meetings/calls (stage 2) and apps (stage 3) will follow. I'll probably end up using multiwindow for meetings more than the rest


Amanda – I posted a tweet yesterday about this feature, in which I stated I find this feature old and that I’ll probably never use it. A few people said they like the functionality in terms om being able to pop out a chat during a meeting. I support that use case but would rather be able to pop out meetings and great news because that will come soon.


Raised member limit for teams


Another thing that’s new is the raised team member limit, from 5 000 members to 10 000 (not including org-wide teams which still has a limit of 5 000). This should be available now for all tenants.


Question 2 - A 10 000 members team is a huge team. Can you see any use cases for a team this big?


Karoliina – “For the end user point of view I always emphasise simplicity. If bigger teams mean we can cut out one extra application and replace Yammer with Teams (oh was that a dangerous thing to say?), I’m all in.

But huge teams needs to be taken care of - they need many active owners, clear guidelines and a solid structure. Those kind of teams could be for example expert teams where people share knowledge across organisational borders, or a recreational teams, for example discussion around hobbies.


I (still) see a solid use case for both Yammer and Teams in large organisations, but I like the direction Teams is going.


Linus – I don’t think I’ve even been a member of a team with 5000 members or heard the demand from customers to have larger teams. But for large organisations this is probably more common and they asked for this increase. The first thing I start to think about when I hear about these large teams is when to use a team in Teams and when to use Yammer. Teams will probably be moderated and more of an information team than a collaboration team where all members adds content.


Mårten – It might be an interesting option to explore in relation to an intranet or using Yammer for enterprise communication. But as a “normal” team with 10.000 members, nay.


Chris – I remember Tom Arbuthnot and I were having a conversation earlier this year at the Microsoft Store in London, and we were discussing how scale didn't really change a Teams rollout since a lot of the use cases were the same, it was just doing more. I feel the same about large teams. They could be used for adoption, or training, or access to custom apps - the same use cases you would use for an SMB. You can divide the Team into 200 channels, and I would imagine they moderate the general channel and add users through Graph or the shell! Of course, when numbers like this get banded around, it begins to rub up against what people think teams typically are (small numbers of users) or whether another app is necessary (I.e. Yammer), but I think it can work and has worked.


Amanda – For the last two year I’ve been working at smaller companies and rolling out Microsoft Teams for smaller companies – so I haven’t come across any teams larger than the org-wide team at my current employee (which has ~500 members with guest included 😅) When I think large groups I think Yammer but maybe it’s time to go all-in Microsoft Teams. I like chatting a lot more than the forum kind of writing in Yammer, so why not re-think sharing and discussing content over larger groups?! I hope I get the chance to try this soon.


Raise your hand during meetings


We all know how hard it can be to talk in a meeting where you don’t know each other, luckily Microsoft have given us the possibility to raise hands in Microsoft Teams. Raising your hand in a meeting will give the other people in the meeting an indication that someone wants to talk.

Questions 3 - What is your thought on possibility to raise hands in meetings, have you seen it been used in a good way?


Karoliina – Raise hand is a great, simple feature. I’ve used it already in a few ways:

  • If you want to speak (obviously)

  • Voting - “I’m in favour of this”, “I’ve done this”

  • To tell that you’re ready to continue (you’ve done your assignments or you are back from the coffee break)

The problem I’ve had with raise had is that people raise hands by accident and they forget to lower their hands.


Linus – I’ve used it in a user group, we did not tell the participants to use raise hand, but they started to use it and it was kind of useful. I would like to see the participant list reorder when someone raise hand so presenters can see in what order they raised hands. I think that this feature will be mostly used in schools, but it can be used for other meetings too. It is good that the presenter starts the meeting and tell participants if they should use this feature or not, not so fun it you raised your hand but the presenter never sees it (but if that is the case, unmute and tell them).


Mårten – It’s a very good, useful and inclusive feature. It makes it easier for those of us who are introverted to be heard, especially in larger meetings.


Chris – I guess that the raise hands feature was driven a lot by EDU and designed really with EDU in mind - and many in the Tech Community who are in EDU called for it long before Covid as it was in Skype previously. However, even though the feature is there I typically ask people to leave questions in the chat (meetings) or Q&A (live meetings) or I have open Q&A at the end of a session which is more typical - and dare I say - expected of B2B engagements. I'll be honest, since I am presenting in most sessions I attend, and since I'm typically sharing the whole screen I don't even see it. Even if I did, I think I would still prefer meeting etiquette and decorum as opposed to asking adults to raise their hand. I'd probably feel different in a classroom with children. I guess a lot depends on the meeting format and the activities involved. I have heard the odd report of users causing visual disturbance with the feature by turning it on and off repeatedly, but other than that most in the Tech Community seem generally satisfied which suggests it is working for them. Uservoice is always a good barometer to look at after a feature is GA and with raise hand, we are seeing that people want it more noticeable, automatic turn off once the question is answered, have raise hand ordered, that it is visible in presentation mode (my issue). I can see a version 2 of this feature down the line.


Amanda – I haven’t tried it for real yet, but I already see some concerns. First, it shows the same icon as when someone is in the lobby and this is irritating me hah. Second, when we start to use it more we probably need to be able to see the order of the raised hands otherwise tricky to use? Here’s a uservoice about that – go vote. EDIT - A reason I love the Microsoft Teams community is when people tell me I'm wrong. You can see the order of the people raising their hands, just click the participants list and the person who raised first will be in the top 🤩.


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If you want to read more about what’s been released in May, you can read about it here: What’s New in Microsoft Teams | May 2020

Cool things coming

Now let us look at few things we can look forward to as well.


About two weeks ago, there was the yearly Microsoft conference for developers – Microsoft Build. There were a lot of exciting things announced there but let us look at two of those that I found extra interesting 😊.


Templates in Microsoft Teams

We will get templates in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft describes templates as eliminating the need to set up new teams from scratch and giving the users the option to choose from customizable templates. In this blog post you can read more about templates and how it will work Create teams quickly with Templates in Microsoft Teams.


Templates will be available in the next few months.

Image from Microsoft

Question 4 - How do you feel about the upcoming templates in Microsoft Teams?


Karoliina – I love the idea of having ready templates in Teams (goodbye Wiki, hopefully!). I hope that the templates can be modified to suit different needs, and I hope IT admins have enough of control over the templates. Otherwise the ready-made feature might not be enough and we still need Teams Provisioning.


Linus – I have customers asked about this for a long time, some type of users always create the same channels and add the same apps for every project they start. So, with templates users will be able to select “Internal project team” template and get up and running with the team faster. The downside with templates is that users might stop thinking of how they want their team to be like and just use the channels and apps that administrators decided should be in the template.


Mårten – Very excited about this feature that has a great potential to bring order in the teams creation anarchy as I see in many of my clients.


Chris – Templates have been around for a while with Third parties. It was only a matter of time before they came in natively - and they'll probably go down well too because, ultimately, governance is important - even in SMB once stakeholders are aware or have experienced the issues of having no governance. We've heard a lot the last few years about Teams sprawl, and about users having carte blanche to install any apps they want and the inconsistency of Teams settings across the tenant. In many cases where I have engaged with businesses they have simply turned Teams on and don't know what their users are using, and whilst administrators want to trust owners regarding the management of Teams, many simply don't do what is needed or forget. From a user's perspective, many don't want the hassle of building a Team from scratch. Templates remediate most of these issues. Whilst I empathise with the idea that standardising Teams may take some of the 'fun' and creativity out of Teams, especially if these templates lock most of the ability to change a team, they will make things simpler. The more I use Teams the more I feel it needs to be easy, purposeful and focused.


Amanda – I love the idea of built-in templates, it will make it easier for the users and be better looking. But as a consultant where we often build customers specific templates and provisioning apps, I start to wonder how much we can customize 🤔. Can we add metadata? Can we add folders? E.g. Time will tell and anyway I’m looking forward to this!


Lists with Microsoft Lists

And the last thing I wanted to share and talk about is Microsoft Lists. Microsoft Lists is a completely new app in Microsoft 365 which based on lists. Microsoft describes it as: Microsoft Lists is a Microsoft 365 app that helps you track information and organize your work.


Microsoft Lists will make it easy to work with different kinds of lists in an app, in newly added Lists in Microsoft 365, in Microsoft Teams, in SharePoint. You can share them, you can create rules, you can make these lists be of great help in your daily life. In this blog post you can read more about Microsoft Lists: Announcing Microsoft Lists - Your smart information tracking app in Microsoft 365.


Microsoft Lists will be available later this summer.

Question 5 - How do you see Microsoft Lists fit in with the rest of Microsoft 365?

Linus – When I first heard about Lists I thought is was a new Planner or To Do, but after looking into the first look video I realised that this is something else. Personally, I see use case in migration projects when doing inventory of the current environment for a customer we can save this in Lists instead of Excel sheets. Another use case they are mentioning is asset tracking that I can see it useful for. But do we need another app? Okay, Lists will be integrated in Teams and I hope it also will be integrated in the Office mobile app. The name of the product is explaining what it is but now we will hear people talking about lists in Lists, like we talk about teams in Teams.


Mårten – You get a list. And you get a list. Everyone gets a list! 😊


Chris – When new features are announced, sometimes you hear very little about them until they launch. Lists isn't Community voices about news in Microsoft Teamsexpected to arrive until at least Q3 CY2020 and yet there is already a ton on how it will work including its own webpage. This says to me there has already been quite an investment in it from Microsoft's end. I think, personally, it'll work well. By definition the Lists app combines SharePoint Lists, a Lists web page with Lists from Teams and Lists from Mobile. It'll bring all Lists together across the whole Microsoft 365 platform, and functionality which extends across the whole Microsoft 365 platform has been increasing the last few years particularly in the area of security and compliance (I.e. labelling, retention, DLP etc). You don't want to have to manage Lists in each of the apps independently - you want something which ties it all together whether that List is in SharePoint, in Teams, or elsewhere.

Amanda – I’m trying to figure out a lot of things for Lists. I like the idea of making it easier for the user with lists, sometimes a plan in Planner isn’t ideal and a shared ToDo isn’t either. But at the same time there are so many different places where we can keep this kind of information, like the ones I mentioned or a list in SharePoint. This is just something that I need to try before I can make up my mind about it. But I’m optimistic.


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Here you can read everything that was announced at Microsoft Build 2020 in the book of news.

Thanks again friends for your thoughts and ideas 😍. And for the rest of you, hope I got you a little inspired🔮.

Welcome to my blog about Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and collaboration

© 2020 Amanda Sterner

amanda@amandasterner.com

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