“Pop out” chat support starts rolling out in Microsoft Teams

Multi-Window Chat is a new Microsoft Teams feature which enables users to multitask more efficiently by popping out their chat conversations into separate Windows much like was possible in Skype for Business and Lync before.

Microsoft announced this was rolling out this month (April) as part of a wave of updates announced on their 3rd “birthday”.

Why we need it (and we so do)!

Pop out chat (video and others are coming soon too) has been one of the most requested features in Teams since when enaged in multiple chats, is can be a little cumbersome (especially now with us all working from home) to effectively to monitor and manage chats across multiple teams or groups since you can’t currently have these chats in separate Windows.

This new pop-out feature helps you overcome this challenge, allowing you to “pop out” chats your Teams’ chat in a separate window meaning you can keep important conversations and chats going while you are in a meeting or working elsewhere in Teams without loosing context.

How it works.

As with most things in #MicrosoftTeams there’s a couple of ways users can pop-out their conversations:

  1. The simplest – double click on the display picture (avatar) of the person whose chat you want to pop-out
  2. Click “Pop out chat” from the context menu for a chat that is listed in the chat list
  3. Click the ‘pop out’ button in the top-right corner of the chat header.
  4. For those that prefer the command prompt, use the slash command /pop
Pop out chat in Microsoft Teams

Available now..?

Almost.. At the time of writing, I’ve seen tweets that some of my customers and friends are seeing this already as of today (Friday 24th April) mine hasn’t updated yet…

Keep hitting the “check for updates”!

New Scheduling Experience coming to Microsoft Teams

Microsoft are about to roll out (early Feb 2020) changes that replace the existing scheduling form with a new form that retains all existing scheduling functionality but makes it more aligned to the Outlook experience. The core changes include:

  • Improved view of available time
  • Allows changing event information from the scheduling assistant tab
  • Includes an option for required and optional attendees.
  • Includes search within the location picker field.

New Teams scheduling form can be seen below.

New MicrosoftTeams Scheduling Form

As well as the changes above, there’s a number of additional features including:

  • All day events option – a new toggle like in outlook that converts meetings to an all-day event.Availability status – provides simple people and location search which provides a visual (red) indicator to indicate non-availability on people or resources.
  • Cancellation with message – provides ability to provide and edit a message when cancelling an event if desired (again similar to what Outlook offers today).
  • Tabs in edit/view mode – these tabs provide easy access to things like chat, meeting notes, files, scheduling assistant, and of course the meeting whiteboard.
  • Time zone picker – which now finally allows meeting organisers to select the time zone they wish to use for the meeting.

That’s it… The new update is rolling out in the next few weeks so look out for it.

Need a New Year Resolution? How about improving your Productivity Score?

Happy new year everyone…

Like many, we are thinking about what things to give up, things to start doing and things we want to do better in 2020. When it comes to our work and the things we do how about thinking about how we can work more efficiently when we return to work this week or next…

You see, people are seen to be as collaborating if one person edits and shares a document (or presentation, spreadsheet, onenote etc), and then at least one other person accesses it or collaborates on the same version of that document.

So what – why are you telling me this?

The more people collaborate, the more they’ll invest in each other’s ideas, which in turn leads to efficient authoring, easier interaction, faster response and more agile decision making. It can also be more secure since access to these documents is controlled, the files don’t end up being shared all over the place (un trackable) via email and everyone is “on the same page”.

Since we are all part of multiple teams within our roles at work, taking these simple steps will help you to save time ever day while increasing your content collaboration, improving security and compliance within the organisation and making it more efficient and effective to work on or update files together rather than emailing multiple versions backwards and forward via email like we did in the 90s (and many still do today).

Here’s some tips to get you more productive

1. Encourage yourself and others to collaborate better

It’s a proven fact that we work more effectively when we collaborate better. Many of is though, still save our files locally or use VPNs (yes they are still a thing apparently for remote access) and then share files (which we expect people to comment and collaborate on via email attachments).

Let’s be honest, no one likes trying to merge all the changes from the many reply to all emails you get back with multiple versions of the same file (especially when everyone has different ideas or responds to an out of date version).

Improve your collaboration posture, your security ying and yang and be more productive… Heres a short little video to introduce (ok hopefully remind you) of the benefits of saving and sharing files in the cloud, co-authoring in real time, and collaborating with comments and @ mentions.

2. Learn about and adopt the benefits of cloud storage

Hopefully your not still storing stuff on your un protected (not backed up) desktop or using old school file shares.

Using OneDrive (thereby storing files in the cloud) means they’re always backed up, available from other devices, and set up for real-time collaboration and secure file sharing. Watch this quick video to understand the benefits using OneDrive has for you.

3. Replace those email attachments with “shared links”

Rather than sending files via attachments, it far more effective to share a link to your file (assuming you’ve saved it in OneDrive, Teams or SharePoint) within your email message. This way everyone (you decide) can view and update (if you give them permission) the file and see changes and collaborate in real time. This is also far more secure as you prevent recipients downloading or editing the file plus you can always revoke permissions if you wish.

For a quick video on how to do watch this short video clip..

You mentioned the word score? How is productivity measured?

That’s right. It’s now (well it’s in Public Preview right now) to measure how productive your organisation is through a new service within Office 365 called “Productivity Score”.

Productivity Score provides insights that help transform how work gets done.  It aims to provide your organisation visibility into how your organisation works, insights that identify where you can enable improved experiences so people can reach their goals, and actions to update skills and systems so everyone can do their best work. 

Productivity Score Summary

There are two categories that your (organisation) score is built from, the employee experience and the technology experience and both include a benchmark that helps you compare how you are doing compared to organisation similar to yours (based on size, geography and sector). 

The employee experience shows how Microsoft 365 is helping to create a productive and engaged workforce by quantifying how people collaborate on content, work from anywhere, understanding communication styles, and developing a meeting culture.

The technology experience helps you ensure the technology isn’t getting in the way by assisting you optimise your device experiences such as proactively remediating common helpdesk issues and improving PC startup times, and your network to ensure your apps work well.

Available today (registration/sign up request required until it releases formally in early 2020) in the Office 365 Admin Centre.

For more information from Microsoft on this as it develops read the following blog.

That’s it from me. Welcome any feedback and comments and in the mean time Happy Xmas and all the best for 2020!

Private channels for Teams are finally here.

What are Private Channels In Teams?

Updated: 4th Nov 19

Private Channels (which are being released this week) will allow team owners to limit which team members can see the conversation and content within a particular channel within a Team (kind of a private space between a wider Team). This allows team admins to right-size channel participation and exposure without having to create discrete teams to limit visibility. This can help with reducing team sprawl and can help with internal and B2B communications.

Private channels will be indicated by a small lock / padlock icon next to the channel within a Team.

  • Team owners will be able to see all channels and private channels
  • Team members will only be able to see and participate in private channels they have been added to.
  • Any member of a Team can create a private channel and they then become the owner of that private channel even if they aren’t the owner of the Team.
  • Private Channel owners can add and remove members just like with a Team but to be a member of the Private Channel, the user must be (at least) a member of the Team first.
  • External users/guests can be added to a Private Channel just like with a Team but again the the guest must also be a member of the Team first.
  • Related to the above… YOU CANNOT USE A PRIVATE CHANNEL to invite guests and then only share certain information with them and not the rest of the Team.

But it’s not been an easy journey!

  • Private channels have been the most requested feature on User Voice
  • The feature has been in development for over two years now
  • On March 19th this year Microsoft announced that private channels will be coming out later this year
  • This week the upcoming change started apprwaing in customers Office 365 Message Centre
  • They start rolling out this week (Nov 4th)

Why do we need Private Channels in Teams?

Pretty much ever since Teams was released users have been asking (shouting) for Private Channels. The concept sounds straightforward enough; private channels would only be seen and accessible by the creator and whoever he/she invites. In practice, however, the feature has been a major development challenge.

According to the user requests and comments in Teams User Voice, people generally want more options when it comes to creating channels in Microsoft Teams. Specifically, they want channels that are:

  • Public-Open (Visible anywhere including outside the organisation that anyone can join)
  • Public-Invitation (Visible anywhere including outside the organisation; must be invited)
  • Company-Open (Only visible inside the organisation and anyone inside can join; those outside the organisation must be invited)
  • Company-Invitation (Only visible inside the organisation, must be invited)
  • Secret (Invisible to everyone except existing members, must be invited)

The need has raised quite a debate

What might seem a simple request has created lots of friction and almost brexit like opinion polls over the last couple of years

The “Pro” private channels want it becuase:

  • Private channels enable admins to have more granular control over who can and can’t access certain content.
  • Sensitive material can be more easily gated.
  • Having private channels would also make something like a manager/executive-only chat within a Team possible or make a customer focused team have an internal “private” area

The “anti” private channels don’t like the concept of a private channels because:

  • Teams is all about open collaboration. It was designed to make working with others as seamless as possible. Once you’re in a Team you have access to everything in there so the concept of a private channel goes again the grain.
  • By implementing more controls and requiring the team owner to manage permissions for every private team that gets created, it can quickly become counter productive and ‘anti’ to the purpose of the platform.
  • Private channels can be seen as unnecessary. You can arguably create a new separate team if you want privacy.
  • If you want a private chat between two or more managers/execs, you could simply create and use a regular group chat.

These are all workable (though not necessarily as convenient) options.

Why has it taken so long to develop?

Outside of the long and extensive debates above and Microsoft having to try to make sense of it, consult with large enterprise and event run early alpha tests with clients to test and confirm the pro and cons, the design and implementation of this feature has been complex

In simple terms, Channels in Teams simply were not originally designed or created to be “blocked off” or isolated and so because of this, the architecture of channels doesn’t lend itself to being private and has had to be majorly modified to accommodate this feature

There’s more to it than this though…

Every Team that’s created is enabled by other components of Office 365. For example, Teams need Planner for task management and SharePoint (that includes One Drive) for file storage. If a certain channel in a Team became private…

  • SharePoint permissions would be broken.
  • Planning permissions would be broken.
  • Stream permissions would be broken.
  • Tab level permissions would be broken.

The engineering team at Redmond have had to overcome a whole load of technical and process integration obstacles to provide options for organisation who wish to make part of their open collaboration platform. not open!

I already use Teams? What do I need to do?

You don’t have to do anything. Private channels can be used or disabled should IT not want this feature being used…whilst not released yet the options to control it are available now in the Teams policies settings in the Teams Admin Centre.

There isn’t a process to covert a Team into a channel within another team so this is a process you’ll need to consider and think about and there will be use cases for such you’ll want to consider… A personal example for our organisation is where we have Team sites for customer project work which is internal and another customer Team site we use for sharing and collaborating with a customer..

We in effect have duplicate Teams today for this reason. I expect we will look to consolidate these down to one and use private channels within a wider channel that we will use for internal / company confidential communications and docs.

Of course… This also is a great time to look at house cleaning Teams across the estate…Time will tell on that one!

When it is available?

Private Channels is rolling out this week…so now (almost). Like all new features.. They take a few days to roll out depending on your Office 365 release schedule.