Instant messaging is a convenience that many offices can’t live without, especially if you have a geographically dispersed workforce. For years, we’ve been using Microsoft’s Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync). Skype is a handy tool for hosting virtual meetings, connecting with remote workers, and asking quick questions that aren’t necessarily worth an entire email (Did you send the files over to Susan? Do you want to go to lunch tomorrow?). However, Skype for Business Online will retire and join the Microsoft graveyard on July 31, 2021. It will be replaced with Teams.
This retirement means that Skype for Business will no longer be accessible or supported after July 2021. You might be thinking, “Who cares? That’s so far away. We’ve got plenty of time to figure out Teams”. It may seem like over a year is plenty of time to prepare for a transition to Teams, but fast changes often lead to confusion. And with the increased number of people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, practical and easy to use collaboration tools are needed now more than ever. This means there’s no time like the present to get a jump on learning how to become a Teams expert.
According to Microsoft, Teams is “the hub for teamwork, is where people – including people outside your organization – can actively connect and collaborate in real time to get things done. Have a conversation right where the work is happening, whether coauthoring a document, having a meeting, or working together in other apps and services. Teams is the place to have informal chats, iterate quickly on a project, work with team files, and collaborate on shared deliverables”.
You can think of Teams as a virtual conference room, filing cabinet, phone, and calendar all rolled into one. Unlike Skype, which is purely chat-focused with some basic meeting/file sharing capabilities, Teams is a multi-purpose collaboration workhorse. Like other Office 365 apps, it’s available online or on your desktop, with both free and paid versions.
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The first thing you’ll notice when you open Teams is that there is a lot going on; but thanks to its integration with Office 365 and familiar Microsoft interface, it’s not too overwhelming.