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5 best practices to support Microsoft Teams hybrid meetings

To support an effective Microsoft Teams hybrid meetings experience, organizations should follow five best practices, including user training and app integrations.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations to quickly pivot to cloud-based meeting services to support collaboration among employees working from home. For many organizations, Microsoft Teams was the tool of choice to support remote meetings.

But not all organizations had a long-term strategy for their Teams meeting deployment, as the focus was on the short-term need of maintaining business continuity and communication.

"Now we need to deal with people going back to the office and navigate the hybrid work environment," said Kevin Kieller, co-founder of Microsoft consulting firm EnableUC. Organizations must develop a strategy to ensure meetings remain productive and engaging regardless of where employees are located.

At an Enterprise Connect Virtual summit on achieving Microsoft Teams meeting success, Kieller outlined five best practices organizations can follow to ensure a high-quality Microsoft Teams hybrid meeting experience and improve business outcomes.

1. Stay up to date on Teams features.

To address demand for Teams features, especially for meetings and calling, Microsoft accelerated its roadmap to introduce new features quickly, such as Together Mode, breakout rooms and live transcription. Since the start of 2021, Microsoft launched 127 Teams features, with another 54 in the process of rolling out, Kieller said.

Organizations may have a hard time keeping up with new and upcoming features, so IT teams should regularly consult the Microsoft 365 roadmap, he said.

Microsoft Teams Together Mode
Microsoft launched Together Mode to create a more immersive meeting experience and address video fatigue.

2. Use the right audio and video devices.

Microsoft has expanded its portfolio of audio and video devices to offer a range of hardware that can support room configurations of multiple sizes, as well as work-from-home deployments. The portfolio includes webcams, speakerphones and displays.

Two new devices in particular could help hybrid meetings, Kieller said. First are smart speakers from Yealink and Epos, which can identify up to 10 speakers in a room so remote attendees can tell who's speaking.

Second is the Poly Studio P21, a desktop monitor that includes a built-in camera, microphone, speakers and lighting. The monitor connects to laptops via USB to create the desktop video experience.

It's important to remember Teams is a platform as opposed to just a communications tool.
Kevin KiellerCo-founder, EnableUC

"The great thing about the Teams ecosystem is it's broad, with different vendors coming up with different ideas," he said. "Figure out what works for users depending on where they are and how they spend time doing work."

3. Enhance meetings with app integrations.

Integrating apps with Microsoft Teams hybrid meetings can improve the meeting experience and extend the Teams collaboration experience, Kieller said.

"It's important to remember Teams is a platform as opposed to just a communications tool," he said. Users can enhance the meeting experience by using Microsoft's app directory to add apps for polling, Q&A and workflow management.

Users can also build their own line-of-business apps with Microsoft's Power Apps platform to tailor the Teams meeting experience to specific business workflows and processes, he said.

4. Provide thorough and ongoing training.

Training is key to ensure users are getting the most out of the tools available for Microsoft Teams hybrid meetings. Most Teams training is inadequate, and few employees receive follow-up training, Kieller said.

"Most organizations don't check to see if the training they're providing is actually working," he said.

But training employees will make them more effective Teams users and ensure that new capabilities are adopted quickly.

5. Take advantage of analytics.

Ultimately, the only way to know if Teams meetings are working properly and users are maximizing the platform is through analytics. Teams offers analytics for both end users and IT admins, Kieller said.

On the end-user level, employees can view analytics for their teams and channels that provide insight into who's participating in meetings, replying to posts and participating in a team or channel.

On the IT admin side, Teams offers several analytics tools that track usage and adoption of various platform functions. This information can help identify where training is and isn't successful, Kieller said. IT admins can also access a dashboard and other analytics to gain insight into call quality, reliability and user satisfaction. Other analytics tools admins can use are Microsoft Viva Insights, which can provide analytics related to meetings, and Productivity Score, which provides data on how the organization uses Microsoft 365.

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