Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform enabling business teams to get organized and communicate with each other through a single interface. Team members can engage through direct or group chat, have calls, or video calls and at the same time share files, ensuring maximum flexibility. To capitalize on Teams’ powerful tools, it is important to ensure that team members are following some best practices and guidelines tailored to your organization’s needs.

Best Practice 1: Create a wide team for all members of your HR Department

If your company is using Microsoft Teams, you most probably already have an organization-wide team set up for all the employees, which is great. However, since HR manages sensitive information, it is important to set up a team for the HR department, where you can discuss projects pertinent to HR. You will then be able to share conversations, files and notes that will only be visible to members of the HR team.

Check also How to setup Microsoft Teams for effective HR management for additional tips to leverage Teams' strengths for the needs of HR.

How to create a new team

  1. Click the Teams button on the left hand side bar of Teams.

2. Click on the Join or create a team button at the bottom of the list.

3. Select the Create team option.

4. Choose the option From scratch.

5. Select the option Private to ensure you limit the content and access to a specific group of people.

6. Give a name to your team, e.g. HR Department and a description. When you are done, click Create.

Congrats! You have just created a new team for your HR department. So, what do you need to do next? Add your HR colleagues to the new team by following the below easy steps.

How to add members to your HR team in Teams

  1. Go to the team name you have created in the teams list and click on the 3 dots on the right hand side, where you will see the More options button. Click on it and select Add member.

2. Type any of the following options to add to your team - a name, distribution list, security group, or Microsoft 365 group. If you want to add people outside your organization as guests, you can do so by typing their email addresses.

3. When you have finished adding members, select Add and then select Close. The persons you have added to the team will receive an email notifying them they are now a member of your team and the new team will show up in their teams list.

Best Practice 2: Create a group chat for discussing small, short-term tasks

Within a team, everything you post, documents you share are public and available to all members of the team. On the other hand, group chats within Microsoft Teams are private, with content accessible to the members of the group only. Group chats are ideal in order to manage short-time projects among a small group of colleagues. For every message that gets posted within the group chat, every member will receive a notification, ensuring that it draws the attention of the people that need to take action. In addition, Teams gives you the option to mark your message as important or urgent.

One more important feature of the group chat is that you can make group calls or video calls with all the people involved, both scheduled and ad hoc, ensuring maximum efficiency.

How to set up and use a group chat in Teams

  1. To start a new chat, select the New chat button at the top of your chat list.

2. Select a name for your group chat to make it easily recognizable - e.g. New HRwiz implementation. Best practice is to give a short description so that participants know what the subject of the discussion is.

3. Add people in the group chat by typing their names in the To field. You can loop more people in the group by clicking on the View and add participants button on the top right of the group chat.

4. Pin your group chat to ensure you keep track of this chat, by highlighting the chat, select More options and then Pin. Remember you can order your pinned chats by dragging and dropping them in the order you want. You can always unpin it when the project you are discussing has been completed. Note, that there’s a limit of up to 15 chats that can be pinned.

5. You are ready to take advantage of your new group chat! To make the most of it, in addition to chatting, you can share files and make calls with the whole group.

How to share files in chats

Within chats, you have 2 options to share files:

  1. You can click the + sign on the Files tab of the group chat and upload the file you want. In this tab you can also view the list of files that have been shared within the group.

2. When typing a message, you can select the Attach button from the message toolbar and upload your document. This will also be listed in the Files tab once uploaded, for all members of the group to access.

Best Practice 3: Create a team for discussing mid to long term projects that need their own workspace

Teams within Microsoft Teams are ideal to bring together a group of people who work around a common goal for project-based work. Earlier in this article we discussed the importance of having a HR specific team for the HR Department. Creating additional teams for projects that need their own workspace is another best practice to follow to take advantage of the collaboration tools towards high velocity teamwork.

If you run mid to long term projects within your HR department or in collaboration with colleagues from other departments, it is important to create a specific team for each. Don't worry about creating too many teams, the point is to make your communication easier and boost productivity.

Best Practice 4: Create channels within your teams to add structure

To add structure within your teams, create channels that are dedicated to a specific topic. For example, within the HR team you have created, you can have specific channels for Talent Management, Performance Review, Recruiting, etc., where you can discuss relevant tasks. Any files that you share in channel are stored in SharePoint and are accessible to the participants. You can also add more value to your channels by adding apps and bots, like Helvia's HRwiz to automate some functions, like FAQ management.

When creating channels, it is better to use public channels (regular channels), instead of private ones, and restrict access via the members of the team, i.e., make the team special-purpose and specific and give access only to those needed. You can check more details in the post How to effectively manage projects in Teams.

How to create a channel in a team

To create a channel in a team, go to the team list, find the team you want to add the channel to, click the More options button and then click Add channel.

Best Practice 5: Create special-purpose teams as folders, and channels as subfolders

A great way to organize your teams is to think of them as folders and the channels within them as subfolders. This way you can create more structure and have optimum governance of your Teams experience. For more information you can read the post How teams and channels in Microsoft Teams work like folders.