Microsoft is replacing Microsoft Teams Live Events with a new “Town Hall” in the experience. Users with Team Premium licenses will also gain exclusive access to new “advanced features”.
What is Teams Town Hall?
Town Halls is revamped experience for large-scale events in Teams called Town Halls, cv will replace Live Events. The new Town Halls experience is officially available for commercial customers from Thursday October 5, 2023.
What features does it offer over Live Events?
Teams Town Halls offers many new advanced production capabilities, a new experience offering a structured approach for attendee engagement, and a new unified experience for users. Some of these features will only be available to Teams Premium customers.
Teams Town Hall enables customers to host various types of internal and external events, such as company-wide town halls, all hands, global team meetings, internal broadcasts, fireside chats, and more. It gusto provides much better support for external presenters.
Teams Town Hall supports up to 10,000 attendees, and up to 20,000 attendees for Teams Premium customers. It also allows up to 15 town halls to run at the same time, and up to 50 for Teams Premium customers
Teams Town Hall features advanced production capabilities, such as a new meeting template, third-party eCDN support, green room functionality, control over what attendees can see, moderated Q&A sessions, and more.
Teams Town Hall provides a structured approach for attendee engagement, such as attendee reporting, live reactions, polls, surveys, and more.
Teams Town Hall features Email communications and advanced customisation (for Teams Premium users). Organisers will be able to send pre-configured email templates for the event invitation and the event recording emails instead of manually creating a separate email, copying the event link, and sending a calendar invite to attendees.
Teams Town Hall will (soon) support both RTMP-in (so events can be produced directly from an external encoder and integrate different external media feeds) and RTMP-out, allowing organizers to stream the event out to a custom app or different endpoint outside of Teams such as YouTube, LinkedIn, X, Meta Workplace, and others. Note, this functionality will be available next year.
Teams Town Hall will create a unified experience for users whether they are hosting a small meeting, customer-facing webinar, or company-wide town hall. The current live event platform is not a consistent experience with Teams.
Teams Town halls will (soon) be integrated with Viva Engage to allow attendees to view the event in Viva Engage, whether the event is produced directly in Teams or with an external app or device.
When will Teams Live Events be retired?
Retirement of the current Teams Live Event service will continue to be supported over the next 12 months and fully retire by September 30, 2024.
Existing recordings will be available until December 31, 2024, but the transition to town hall must be completed before the retirement date.
To set-up a new Town Hall event, users (unless disabled by policy) can create a new Town Hall directly from Teams as shown below.
Don’t forget Microsoft Mesh
Microsoft is also rolling out Microsoft Mesh to Teams users in public preview in this month (October 2023). Mesh is a virtual reality platform that will enable richer and more immersive events. It will work on PC and Meta Quest VR devices. You can read more here.
Microsoft Loop is a newish Microsoft 365 app designed to help people collaborate and organise content from various Microsoft 365 apps into different collaborative workspaces and pages. Loop can be used as its own app for simple and group collaboration, or for keeping, organising and consolidating your content from your different ‘loops’ in a central place.
What is Loop?
Microsoft launched Loop (in preview) back in March this year and (whilst still officially in preview), now has its own dedicated app in the Microsoft Store (as well as being available in iOS and Android).
Microsoft Loop is now available through the Microsoft Store though it’s really just a progressive web app.
Loop consists of workspaces, pages, and components that stay up to date across different applications.
Microsoft Loop is designed to enhance Co authoring and editing of “components” across Microsoft 365 apps.
Loop components, pages and spaces can be created directly from within the Loop App (which is essentially a progressive web app) ontent within a project can be converted into a Microsoft Loop component. Those components can then be shared with a group of people or any individual. Importantly, you can share part of a project or a specific component with someone rather than having to share an entire workspace or project.
Loop is now in the Microsoft Store
You can now get the Loop app from the UK Microsoft Store – there are also apps for iOS and Android. You can also use Edge and pin it as an app (which essentially has the same effect).
“Microsoft Loop is a transformative co-creation experience that brings together teams, content, and tasks across your tools and devices. Loop enables you to organize your thoughts, content, and resources as your project evolves. Loop’s portable pieces of content (components) synchronize across apps and stay up to date wherever they are shared across Microsoft 365.”
Microsoft Loop works for both personal and work accounts.
What else can Loop Do?
I covered Loop in more detail in a previous post which you can access here
My friend Darrell (Modern Work Mentor) also has a series of awesome videos and articles on Loop which you can access below.
Microsoft Loop was originally announced back in late 2021 and a “next-generation co-creation app that connects teams and tasks across your tools and devices. It’s a new way of working – so you and your team can think, plan, and create together from anywhere!” | Microsoft.
Loop introduces a new collaborative way for people to come together and collaborate in new and simple way, breaking down the traditional barriers and issues of over emailing, co-authoring, and sharing. The flexible interface means employees can organise their workspace the way that works best for them.
Microsoft have been working for years to create a new kind of dynamic Office document, known as fluid. The core idea is to transform the tables, graphs, and lists that you typically find in Office documents into living, collaborative blocks of content that exist anywhere.
For me, what makes Microsoft Loop different is the sheer ways and places in which live collaboration can take place – from any Office App
This means for example, that you can create and share loop components (a pool, list, paragraph etc), a loop page (consisting of multiple loop components), or a loop workspace (multiple loop pages) via any, or multiple methods such as in an email, a Teams chat or within say a Whiteboard. The loop component exists once, and all changes and updates are therefore update in real time no matter where they are.
Getting started with Loop
You can get started with Microsoft Loop by signing in with your work (or personal) account at https://loop.microsoft.com. You can also download the Loop mobile app for Android and iOS to access Loop on the go. I’d also strongly suggest pinning the Loop webpage as an app to make it easier to access like you would Word or Teams. You can do this from the tool bar in Edge.
Microsoft say that the primary goal of loop is to help “break down silos between apps, people, teams, tools, and devices – enabling your people to be more efficient when creating or organising content” when compared to the current method of document sharing and co-authoring (though there are similarities to the latter).
Microsoft Loop has three main elements, which are made up of components, pages and workspaces.
Loop workspaces: shared spaces that allow you and your team to see and group everything important to your project. You can easily catch up on what everyone is working on and track progress toward shared goals. These contain loop pages.
Loop pages: flexible canvases in the Loop app where you can bring together people and all your components, links, tasks, and data. Loop pages can start small and grow to match the size of your ideas. You can share them across Microsoft 365 apps as a link or as an embedded Loop component. These contain loop components.
Loop components: are portable pieces of content that stay coordinated across all the places they are shared. They can be lists, tables, notes, and more. You can use them in your preferred app, like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Word, Whiteboard, and the Loop app.
So, you might be in a Teams chat and working on a quick table or list with a couple of a whole team of people. Rather than all send out multiple versions or create a formal document, you can quickly create a loop component in Teams and then if you need wider input, share that component in an email for others to review and edit – the table will be updated for everyone wherever it’s embedded or updated from. Check out the example below.
Similar Products: Microsoft Loop is designed with collaboration and co-creation in mind. The main interface looks a lot like Notion, a workspace app that is used by Adobe, Figma, Amazon, and many other businesses. What makes Loop different is the seamless integration across the rest of the collaboration tools employees use in Microsoft 365.
Benefits of using Loop
Microsoft Loop can help you work better with your team in many ways. Here are some of the benefits of using Loop to work:
Stay coordinated without switching apps: Loop lets you get more done from where you are working without needing to switch apps since Loop components synchronise across apps in real time meaning no copying and pasting information or switching between apps.
Get started quickly: Loop lets you kick off projects or discussions with intelligent suggestions and page templates along with quick access to add the other components you need to work together.
Work together wherever, whenever: Loop is all about collaborating on ideas asynchronously. Loop is simple to use, fluid and intuitive meaning people can come together regardless of time zone, location, and work preference.
Seamless integration across Microsoft 365 Apps: Loop lets you also assign tasks, have task lists, and therefore assign actions. As you’d expect these are fully integrated into the native project and task management features across Microsoft 365. This means teams can create progress trackers and custom labels and have these automatically synchronised up to Planner and To-Do.
Loop Use cases
Ok, so why might you want to use Loop? Afterall, people have been collaborating, brainstorming, working on stuff together for ever using the tools we already have. Since Loop is about breaking away from the constraints of the app and instead focusses on collaborate content, there are some notable examples of where organisations are using Loop to help with:
Brainstorming ideas: Loop is a great space to use components, such as lists, tables, or notes, to quickly create and share your ideas with your team. When available, Copilot will be able to be used to get AI-powered suggestions.
Creating a project plan: Loop pages can be used to make a dynamic project canvas. Since Loop page can leverage sync components such as Todo lists, planner boards and other components, you can create a flexible canvas for the project that is more creative. From here you can easily add components, such as tasks, calendars, roadmaps, and charts, and you can even link to other loop pages, files, or websites to pull all the project resources together in one place.
Preparing a Presentation or Executive Summary: Rather than sharing files and emailing back and forth, you can use Loop components, such as paragraphs, images, lists etc to draft and refine a presentation or document summary. You’ll also be able to use Copilot to improve your writing and generate content or create a starting point from another document. You can also insert Loop components directly into other office apps meaning they can contribute and review without needing access to the full document. This can also be useful for sensitive docs with limited audience.
Running a Meeting: This will soon be how meeting notes work in Teams – but, Loop components, such as agendas, notes, or polls, are a great way to plan and run meetings in real time. Since you can then share the agenda, actions, and other information into other apps like email and teams, these components (such as actions) can be updated easily from anywhere.
Loop Adoption tips
As with anything new that changes how we work, the key with evaluating the use cases of Loop are to start in a confined group.
Start small and simple: Loop is a new way of working together, so it might take some time to get used to it. Start with simple use cases, such as brainstorming ideas, creating checklists, or sharing notes. Use Loop components in your existing apps, like Teams or Outlook, to see how they can enhance your collaboration.
Show the value and benefits: Loop can help people work more efficiently and creatively. As you find use cases of your own, showcase these and spread the loop love. Show others how Loop can save time, reduce app and context switching, and keep everyone aligned. Share examples of how Loop makes the process easier than for example sending emails back and forth.
Be flexible and open-minded: Loop is a flexible and dynamic platform that can adapt to the diverse needs and preferences of different people, use cases and needs. Be open to trying new ways of working together and experimenting with different components and pages. Loop is designed to empower you and your team to co-create like never before.
Get feedback and support: Loop is new and in preview, so it’s not yet a finished product. Ensure you discuss issues and feedback using the feedback section in the Loop app. There are also loads of useful help articles and user groups on linked in and in the Microsoft Tech Community.
Yeah – it’s still in early preview so several things are not where they will be. For me one, the things I hope come soon are the ability to use Loop with guests/external users as today they are “internal only”. It would also be nice to be able to use Loop within Teams Channels (when used in a chat, the Loop is stored in the users OneDrive which is pain). I know both are high on the agenda for Microsoft.
What about Copilot?
Copilot will also be coming to Loop at some point (they do like to tease it) and is currently in private preview with a subset of organisations. Microsoft say that users will be able to use AI-powered suggestions to create a “brainstorm or blueprint”, with Microsoft adapting its Copilot to support a multi-user mode where people can work together with Copilot and ask it questions and manipulate the responses.
Microsoft has announced they will be launching the next generation of the Surface Hub 2S. Shipping later this year, it will come loaded with a new version of Windows known as “Teams Rooms on Windows” and will follow the current Surface Hub 2S design profile and feature both 50″ and 85″ versions.
The new version of Windows that will ship with the new Surface Hub 2S is called Teams Rooms on Windows, and is a major upgrade over the existing “Windows Teams” OS that Surface Hub 2S uses.
In the blog, Microsoft says that the existing Surface Hub 2S will continue to be supported through to until October 2025, which is when support for the version of Windows that runs on Hub 2S is due to end.
Teams Room on Windows
Teams Rooms on Windows will feature a brand new user design interface, which will be similar to that of Teams Rooms for Windows and Android MTR devices, along with unified management and new collaborative features such as support for FrontRow and the upcoming Copilot for Teams. This will finally bring consistent user experience and management for all Teams Room devices.
This new version of Windows will only be available for the new generation Surface Hub 2S devices but they do mention that Surface Hub 2S users will have a “path” to migrate to this experience at a future date, which I expect will be via the cartridge hardware upgrade – a key sustainability and upgrade selling point of Surface Hub 2S.
Microsoft say in their blog that more information will be released later this year…
The Yealink DeskVision A24 is a revolutionary all-in-one collaboration device that blends the best of innovate monitor and UC hub with a leading class Android powered Teams Collaboration display that can be used as a personal device, huddle or bookable meeting endpoint. The Yealink DeskVision A24 is a leading example of innovation in this space, integrating a 24 inch 4K touch-display, “pop-up” privacy camera, high definition speaker, wireless charging, microphones, and touch screen monitor to offer a best-in-class desktop collaboration experience.
if you’d rather skip to the video review – you can do so here:
The device costs £1,699 RRP which is great value compared to the competition on the market and adds to the huge line up of premium Teams and Zoom certified devices that they have to offer.
Innovative, Sleek and Beautifully crafted
What I love about this device that sets it aside, IMO, to other devices in this space, is that the display can be positioned from 90 degree vertical to almost horizonal with it’s smooth arm, in motion very similar to that of the Surface Studio. This makes it idea for Whiteboard use as a second screen [though if it supported use of a Surface Pen that would make it even more awesome].
This is a really premium device – good quality, sturdy and functional. The look and feel is clean and minimalist and offers seamless switching between “Teams” mode and Second Screen mode. The movement of the device is also sleek and simple, offering full range of motion from vertical to almost horizonal making it perfect for different uses such as meetings, whiteboarding and collaborative apps – this is made possible through the unique light hinge designed to enable the screen to be tilted as needed in a very “Surface Studio” like design.
For added usability, there’s also lot of ports to plug peripherals into allowing it to serves as a UC workstation complete with a USB hub (which could power and charge my Surface Pro) and wireless charger for smartphones.
Yealink DeskVision A24 Key Features
Microsoft Teams Display running Android 10
Dual Display Mode (Teams Display and second screen)
Superior audio and video
Qi wireless charging for mobile phones etc
Touchscreen for whiteboard collaboration
Ports include 2x USB C (65w charge), USB C, Ethernet, headphone jack, HMDI In,
Leaders of the pack
At the launch of the device, Albert Kooiman, Director of Microsoft Teams Devices Partner Engineering and Certification said “Yealink consistently keeps expanding their portfolio with powerful Teams devices. These devices will offer sought after hybrid workplace collaboration experiences, delivering a great meeting experience combining quality Teams audio, video, and touch and inking, that can all be easily deployed across personal, hot desking and meeting rooms scenarios.”
As of Feb 2023, Yealink are the global market leader for Teams Rooms devices with a market share of [Source: Yealink].
Summary and Verdict
In short, Yealink’s DeskVision device is a great device that really can help bridge the gap between whiteboard collaboration and video conferencing device that can also serve as a really premium second-screen.
Through customer demos, feedback in the channel and colleagues, the A24 is real market leader in this (rather crowded vendor and product space) and delivers real people-centric meeting experiences and empowering meetings with all the capabilities and power of Microsoft Teams.
The device costs £1,699 RRP which is great value compared to the competition on the market.
Collaborative Annotations is another enhancement coming to Teams. Powered by Microsoft Whiteboard, collaborative annotations is designed to further simply the ability to collaborate with others while screen sharing in a Microsoft Teams meetings.
Thus feature brings a new dimension to screen sharing as it allows participants to collaborate on anything by essentially leveraging a whiteboard overlay to anything being shared. This is useful if you want to ask for feedback or input on a design, diagram or any other document in a one2one or when working with a group.
Using the new feature is simple and intuitive. From within a Teams meeting, there’s a new button located in the meeting controls at the top-center of their screen.
Using Collaborative Annotations
While you’re sharing your full screen in a meeting, select Start annotation Microsoft Teams annotation icon in the meeting controls at the upper-middle area of your screen.
The red outline around the shared screen will turn blue and all participants will see the Microsoft Whiteboard toolset at the top of the shared screen. Everyone in the meeting can begin annotating right away, and the red pen tool is selected by default.
To begin annotating, you can simply choose one of the tools in the Whiteboard toolset such as Sticky note and start typing or drawing on the screen.
To use this feature, you must have a presenter role in the meeting.
By default, everyone can annotate. Collaborative cursors also show the names of every participant in the meeting by default. These settings can be toggled on or off by anyone in the meeting by selection settings and toggling the options as shown below.
There are a few limitations though expect these to be fewer as the new feature develops. Most notably these are:
Collaborative Annotation is only available for full-screen sharing, not individual window sharing.
Exporting annotations is not currently supported. Microsoft recommend that you can take screenshots during the meeting
Meeting rooms using Android-based devices are not currently supported.
This new feature is currently in public preview and is expected to gradually roll out towards the end of this week.
Microsoft announced a number of key new features to the core apps across Office 365 aimed to further improve the working from home and working hybrid scenarios, easier and more productive.
The much loved Whiteboard app is getting a chunk of new features too, which includes 50 new templates, new collaboration cursors, and will finally support Whiteboard collaboration in Teams Meetings with external people (yay).
Teams is no stranger to regular updates; these new updates are centred around the hybrid Meeting Room Experience.
A new companion device experience will prompt you to turn on your video when you enter a room, and will hide your video from the front-of-room screen as well as from the gallery view of other people also joining from companion devices within in the room
A new front row meeting layout, will bring remote meeting members into a spevial “front row” at the bottom of the screen. This will also include additional meeting info including chat, raised hands, and live reactions. Front row is now available in preview.
Outlook will soon receive a new feature to meetings RSVPs, allowing you to indicate whether you’ll be attending the meeting in person or remotely to help meeting organisers plan and coordinate meetings effectively.
PowerPoint is getting a big update (available in the Office Insider build today) designed to make remote and pre recorded sessions better.
PowerPointcameo is an experience that brings your camera(s) directly into your PowerPoint presentation, and recording studio, which lets you easily record your presentation and deliver it later “on demand” with your embedded video. With cameo, you can seamlessly create and produce your presentations, decide how and where you want your video to appear on your slides with cameo, and then record yourself speaking to any slide with recording studio.
Finally, the Viva Insight app within Teams will soon receive a new Inspiration library feature that will give “thought leadership” tips, advice and best practices from sources including Microsoft and the Harvard Business Review.
Cisco has annouced a new upcoming enhancement to their Webex Calling platform that extends phone numbers natively to a employees mobile phone allowing them to use the phones keypad rather than the Webex mobile app.
Unlike traditional Single Number Reach service available in Cisco Call Manager and other Softphone services which essentially forward your call to a mobile, Webex Go, allows employees to connect over their mobile network (using their work number) while keeping their personal mobile number hidden.
A step forward for communication Compliance?
CSOs and CCOs will most likley be interested by this annoucement since, as well as the convenience factor for employees, will help businesses ensure employees adhere by thier compliance and regulatory rules since they can ensure calls go via Webex and are then recorded and monitored for example.
Coming in H1 2022
Cisco said in the annoucement that Webex Go is expected to launch in the US in the first half of 2022, with other geo regions coming at somepoint in the future.
What about similar services?
Vendors such as Avaya have had a similar function for a while and there are also a number of value added SIP and Mobile providers who offer value added service which provide a similar service.
One such provider (yes a bit of a call out here) is Teleware 365 and their Re:Call service.
Re:Call enables employees to use their personal mobile phone to make and receive business calls, SMS, IM and group chat. This improves the employee experience as it removes the need for a business phone entirely, giving employees the ability to use their own device, the device they already know and love. Its also great in environments that need to adhere to strict communication compliance since it can ensure all calls are logged and recorded.
Hybrid Working in driving innovation
It’s good to see Cisco announcing that they will bringing native mobile extensibility directly (without the need for an app) right into Cisco Webex Calling next calendar year.
It’s pretty much accepted now that the future of work (for most) is hybrid and as such organisations are becoming increasingly focused on ensuring a seamless experience between remote working, the office and of course the experience, security and governance around using personal and work phones/numbers. The typical ask I see is.
• Removing the need for employees to carry two phones, one for personal use and one for business use. This is also good for Corporate Social Responsibility.
• Allowing employees to use their phone of choice without having to have IT control it.
• Allowing employees to separate business and personal use of the phone, providing confidentiality for business and personal data alike with full accountability and control.
• Allows employees to collaborate safely and securely with instant messaging and group chat.
I expect the other leading collaboration vendors like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to follow in the future and in the mean time, service providers like Teleware 365 can provide similar functionality regardless of what UC or voice solution you use.
Welcome your comments as always about this or anything in my blogs and thoughts…
Thia update will enhance the presenter view to make desktop or app sharing more inclusive and better for hybrid meetings, ensuring the presenter can be seen at all times. Side by Side and Reporter Mode
Side by Side Mode
In this mode, meeting participants will see the presenter’s video feed and content overlaid on a background image (which can be customised).
In this mode, the meeting participants will see the presenter’s video feed superimposed over the background image while having the content over their shoulder, placed diagonally. Like. TV broadcast.
The modes are customisable….with different backgrounds (not custom ones yet though).
What can be customised?
Presenters are able to customise the background image before starting the presentation.
Presenters are able to enable or disable the video feed during the presentation from the sharing bar.
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:
The simplest – double click on the display picture (avatar) of the person whose chat you want to pop-out
Click “Pop out chat” from the context menu for a chat that is listed in the chat list
Click the ‘pop out’ button in the top-right corner of the chat header.
For those that prefer the command prompt, use the slash command /pop
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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 wantitbecuase:
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.