Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams The Hub for Modern Collaboration

We are getting deep and will wrap up the Modern Collaboration blog series by tying all of the products we have discussed together using Microsoft Teams as our hub! Before we do that, I’d recommend checking out the previous posts from this blog series below.

  1. What is Modern Collaboration, and how does it impact business?
  2. Modern Collaboration with Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams!
  3. Accessing and Saving Files in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint
  4. Sharing Files in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint
  5. Restore Previous Versions and Deleted Files from OneDrive for Business and SharePoint

Now let’s dive into Microsoft Teams as a hub for collaboration!

What is Microsoft Teams

In our first blog post, I introduced Microsoft Teams as a basic chat application that integrates with other web applications. This description is an oversimplification. Ultimately it is designed to be your one-pane-of-glass into everything productivity. It does a surprisingly good job of this and is getting better every day with new third-party integrations in my experience. 

Bringing Modern Collaboration Together with Teams

Throughout this blog series, we have focused on files in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint. The reason being is collaboration can mean countless things depending on what your job functions all. However, the most common collaboration is working on Office Documents with people on your team and inside your organization. 

Using Microsoft Teams brings together many pieces of the Office 365 suite, including a Shared Mailbox, a Distribution List, a Shared Calendar, a Shared OneNote Notebook, and shared Files, all together in a single entity, where you can manage the permissions. Additionally, you can use the Microsoft Teams Application to chat and collaborate with your Team in a single pane of glass.

With a couple of clicks, you can upload a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document into a team’s channel, and solicit feedback and collaboration from your team. In real-time, spread across the entire world, from almost any device, your team can open that document, make changes, and see the changes the other team members are making.

Organizing Teams

Microsoft Teams helps organize your collaboration into what else, Teams! Trying to understand the difference between Microsoft Teams and a Team inside Microsoft Teams can confuse people when describing where to find something. I always try to be clear when discussing the application and say Microsoft Teams. When talking about the different collaboration groups inside of Microsoft Teams, it is when I say, Teams.

How you organize your Teams inside Microsoft Teams is most comfortable to understand when talking about raw permissions. If I add someone to my Team, everyone in my Team can see all the files, conversations, and apps added to the Team. They may be broken up by location, department, project, or any group you need to collaborate with and keep the data secured within that group.

You can take your organization of the Team even further by creating Channels. Channels are like folders when you think about organizing your files; however, inside of Microsoft Teams is breaks not just your files up, it also helps you organize conversations, apps, and overall how you want to collaborate. Inside of your Team, you can structure your channels; however, you and your Team believe is best.

By default, every Team has a General channel. I always recommend starting there and identifying additional channel needs. Maybe your department has a Team, and you have a small internal project that you want to keep organized within its own channel. Suppose this project will involve people from outside your department. You may want to consider creating a Team just for it.

Creating a Team

Creating a Team is easy! Assuming your organization has not blocked this functionality, you can open Microsoft Teams, click Teams, and at the bottom will be a button to “Join or create a team.”

There are many more things we could dive into in specific use-cases on how to collaborate in Microsoft Teams, and I’d love to engage with you to find out the best way for you to get the job done; please reach out! This will be the conclusion of our Modern Collaboration blog series, and I hope you learned a few things and have some general ideas into the possibilities it unlocks.

Modern Collaboration with Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams!

I’ve recently worked a lot with the Microsoft Cloud, specifically around productivity and Modern Collaboration. I decided to start a series of posts, and this is the second post in the series of at least four blog posts. If you haven’t read the first post in the series, I strongly encourage you to start with “What is Modern Collaboration, and how does it impact business?

The Microsoft Cloud is exceptionally vast in the number of products available. We are going to focus on the Office 365 segment of the Microsoft Cloud. Now, you will see the branding Microsoft 365 occasionally also, Microsoft 365 is a product line that includes Office 365, along with Windows licensing, and other subscription products for security and managing computers and mobile devices. Recently, Microsoft started using the Microsoft 365 branding for some small business and consumer subscription services. This article will not cover any of the consumer subscriptions. However, it is still applicable to the small business plans.

When thinking about Office 365, you need to understand that it is similar to Microsoft Office. When you purchase Microsoft Office, you get multiple pieces of software that install together as a suite of products. Office 365 is very similar. You are buying a subscription, and you get more than one product with that subscription.

What is Modern Collaboration, and how does it impact business?

Modern Collaboration, Collaboration Transformation, Technology Revolution, Technology Transformation; I’m sure you have heard one or more of these terms before. They are very common to talk about in Enterprise IT, even Microsoft’s marketing hits on the Modern Collaboration term quite heavily with their cloud offerings.

You are probably wondering, what does this all mean? How does it affect my business, and how do I get started!? Modern Collaboration is a term that Microsoft has coined for its cloud-first products to drive productivity for knowledge workers. The focus is to shift production from a workplace to a workspace.

Pre-load awesome background images for Microsoft Teams Virtual Background using PowerShell

Microsoft Teams officially rolled out Virtual Backgrounds back in March, around the time COVID-19 went crazy in the United States. With COVID-19 came a slew of people working from home, me included.

I spend a considerable chunk of my week on conference calls for work, volunteering, and honesty – just keeping up with friends. After a while, I had to spice up my virtual background with something new. The current implementation of Virtual Backgrounds in Microsoft Teams is limited in user-friendliness to add custom background images.

To add a custom background, you have to save the file to “%AppData%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads\” which isn’t bad once you know this. However, getting fresh background images is the problematic part. I love browsing Reddit and finding the beautiful pictures on EarthPorn or SpacePorn subreddits.

I’m a massive fan of automation, so I choose to play around with PowerShell and create a quick script. Luckily, I was able to snag the bulk of my code from u/uspeoples from a comment posted on the PowerShell subreddit.

All you need to do is change lines 2 and 4 to match your preference and run it. The script will automatically throw the images returned from Reddit into the correct directory.

#I also recommend SpacePorn, but any reddits will work.
$subReddit = "EarthPorn"
#You can use hot, new, or top for the filter
$redditFilter = "top"

#Don't change anything below this line
$teamsDirectory = "$env:AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads\"
$redditData = (invoke-restmethod "$subReddit/$redditFilter/.json")

foreach($data in $redditData){
    Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $data -OutFile ($teamsDirectory + $data.split('/')[-1])

Now, one major caveat when running this, Reddit won’t always have the best pictures; as my girlfriend put it, “They will also get ugly pictures, and it’ll flood their Teams.” With that said, I promised her I would let my readers know that they can navigate to “%AppData%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads\” and delete any that they do not like.

Creating and Managing a Backlog using Microsoft 365 Apps

In the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time organizing and planning. Most of this time was spent on my personal life organization around the house, but contrary to my most recent blog posts, “Getting things done while working from home using Microsoft To Do!” and “Organizing life, while trapped at home during COVID-19.” I have also put a significant focus on organizing tasks at work. 

I want to walk you through how I’ve created a workflow for incoming requests for training videos using Microsoft Forms, automated notifications using Power Automate, into Microsoft Teams, and automated the tracking inside of Microsoft Planner. All of this accomplished with our existing licensing with an Office 365 E3 license.