Question Time: Where do you stand on these new Teams features?

We all love Microsoft Teams.

Day in and day out, you’ll see us evangelising it on social. On forums such as the Tech Community we help others with enquiries and issues. We run user groups. We write blogs. We speak at events. We vote and create uservoices. We ask all the questions we can think of at that time on the community AMA’s.

It’s success is undisputed. The pace of it’s development the past two years astonishing. Yet it is also reasonable to state that not every feature that is introduced is universally recognised or accepted as a movement forwards. A good example here is the upcoming Private Channels. Yes, Private channels is the highest Teams uservoice of all time with over 21,000 votes (https://bit.ly/2TNABdq) yet it has also created many blogs and debates on social regarding the pro’s and con’s including one here from my good friend Adam Deltinger (https://bit.ly/2YickyG). Will it actually stop Teams sprawl? Is it against the spirit of it’s original design?

In any community, different perspectives are important. Your perspective is important. It would be very boring if we all agreed on everything, but more importantly we learn far more and gain more insights when we engage in dialogue together. I think I speak for all of us on the panel today when I say that whether we like or agree on a new feature or whether we do not like or disagree with a new feature both are driven from a desire to see Teams get even better and continue to fulfil Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organisation on the planet to be more productive. 

So we take a look several new – and potentially polarising features.

We hope this inspires you to write a blog on one of these features or to share your perspective!

This Weeks Panel

RandyChapmanTwitterAdamDeltingerTwitterChrisHoardTwitterVesaNopanen

Randy Chapman (@RandyChapman): UC Pro, UK

Adam Deltinger (@Deltanr1): MCSE, Sweden

Chris Hoard (@Microsoft365Pro): MCT/MCSE UK

Vesa Nopanen (@VesaNopanen): MVP, Finland

1/ In the future, Priority Notifications in Teams will be based on the terms of the customers subscription (https://bit.ly/2Fukmgn). Do you think this is right? Should users have to transition to another plan and pay for the ability to send over 5 urgent messages per month?

RC: Most of my customers and prospects have E3 for all users – typically because they need office pro plus. Even if they didn’t all have E3 I think the users that need to send these messages would have E3 anyway based on their job role – for example someone with the authority to page doctors. I think user education is needed to make sure it’s used properly.

AD: This is the way Microsoft has done things always I guess! To get more features, you need to level up your licensing! The good thing is that you actually get the feature with 5 messages without additional licensing, which will be good enough for many customers.

CH: I am unsure whether it is right. I completely understand the reasoning for capping it in terms of preventing misuse, but let’s say that a user needs 6 or 7 PN’s instead of 5. How will that conversation with the customer play out that they are going to have to upgrade? What if they already have invested in Office 2019? And why aren’t business SKU’s included – do small business not need urgent messages? I guess I would see it as working better to have a premium Teams SKU, like Flow or PowerApps which can bolt onto the existing licence. This feels a little bit like engineering users up the SKU’s which always carries a risk of being perceived negatively.

VN: I think this is one way to control how much Priority Notifications are sent. If PN is overused, it becomes annoyance more than a useful tool to attract attention. If you have only a limited amount of PNs in your disposal you will give it a second thought before sending it. In case some individuals require more PNs then upping their license should not be a problem. It is also a good thing that availability of PN can be controlled for users/groups of users using messaging policies. Is this right or wrong? It depends 🙂 It could have been 5 / month for everyone and have Teams Premium licensing (or something similar like Flow / PowerApps has) for unlimited messages. I think this is a experiment how market will react to this. I would not be surprised to see more Teams features following this model.

2/ In the future, we will see Read Receipts in Teams (https://bit.ly/2BPm4tv). Are Read Recipts a good thing for Teamwork?

RC: I think read receipts say a lot about the sender and their trust of the recipient. Ive never used it in email. I email and follow up by phone generally if its urgent. A read receipt could focus the mind on priority of tasks. Or lead to ignoring stuff they dont want to get to just yet

AD: It’s more a question of the feature being available in scenarios when it’s needed! Read receipts are available on most platforms and Microsoft Teams shouldn’t be an exception! Whether you use them or not is up to every organization and user, but being available as an option is a good thing!

CH: I think all this boils down to setting expectations and establishing that even though you have read someone’s message, this does not equate to you either responding to them immediately or dropping everything you do to focus on them. I would wager many of us have experienced this in our professional or personal lives! On the other hand we know that some people get anxious when having not heard from others and having a receipt can give them peace of mind. Overall, I like to think that others will respond and know I will respond in good time when we have the opportunity to do so, so on a personal level it makes little difference to me whether they are on or off. Of course, I know and expect others to disagree with me vigorously on this point!

VN: Yes they are. People can see if the message has been read. What I don’t approve is the ability that user can control it: this will create confusion more than clarify. It should be set on or off for the whole organization. This feature requires some user adoption and expectation coaching. Not everyone is going to respond immediately they have read the message. One people understand that – and they don’t assume they have been “ghosted” – it gives more peace of mind: they have seen the message already – I don’t have to send new messages just to get their attention about this.

3/ Supervision for Teams (https://bit.ly/2IDR4Ot) is available in Office 365 E5 or E3 with the Advanced Compliance Add-on. Should the ability to monitor channels to prevent things like harrassment in the workplace be part of all Office 365 plans by default?

RC: Yes, definitely

AD: I would like to say yes, at least included in the E3 plan itself

CH: I feel very strongly about safeguarding within the workplace. I would like to see features like supervision in all SKU’s.

VN: I don’t think all add-ons should be included in the base product. While the harassment-detection is important, it there can be other processes to help with that. There are organizations that have more compliance and monitoring needs. Also there can be legal issues either requiring this, or making supervision more controlled (thus not available and on by default)

4/ We will see Native Teams External Access 1:1 give us the ability to use the rich messaging experience – things like GIF’s and Stickers and formatting such as Bold with others outside of our organisation. Will this improve the overall communications between organisations?

RC: I think rich text and emoji will be great. Stickers and gifs less so (for me). I’d give that all up for multi-party chat/calls involving federated contacts though

AD: Yes, I think it will! It will drive the general adoption of Teams too, as a communications platform outside the business also. People are used to have different ways of expressing themselves, apart from just plain text

CH: It’s think long term, it’ll help get users more familiar with communicating in modern ways. I know this is sitting on the fence, but I find it one of the most polarising features of Teams because from personal experience some love it, other’s can’t stand it. I remember I once pulled up a gangnam style GIF in a Teams meeting as appreciation for a point someone made only to told later offline – by the very same person – that it was inappropriate and I needed to learn some decorum. There is going to be some trial and error here for sure.

VN: Yes it will. Using just plain text is hindering. We already got used to send photos etc in federated chat so it is about the time that we’ll get those in Teams. Availability of Gifs and Stickers can be controlled by admins which can help, in case the organization wants to limit their use

5/ The following uservoice (https://bit.ly/2Kvm0T2) is calling for the ability to time delay messages in Teams. Will this improve the Teams experience for users?

RC: You can time delay a survey. Would be good to time delay an announcement. But a regular message? Not sure I get it

AD: I’m a little torn about this! Also depending how this works! There’s a discussion on this topic on Techcommunity also: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Teams/Delay-Send-Feature-on-Teams-Posts/td-p/701742. With the use of presence, sent emails on missed messages etc, I don’t think this is a must have feature

CH: I’m behind this. I’m behind it because I want to capitalise on the moment and I have time to do it now. I know the Team is in on Monday and I want them to get the message first thing Monday. It is Friday today. I may forget on Monday. I may have lost my train of thought by Monday. I may have too many things to do on Monday. I know that there is flaws to this because I also may have forgotten about the message I sent on Friday by Monday too. Now, I know the whole asynchronous argument and Teams ability to remove the constraints of time, but I would argue that some communications need to use time, such as to create impact, and that doesn’t mean either doing it in the moment or waiting until someone eventually get’s it. I mean orchestrating the communication to occur on a particular time, like an event. We all knowingly post blogs at particular times with time delays – why not messages?

VN: No. My personal preference is that the recipient control’s his (or hers) Teams and how Teams interacts with him. As a sender I don’t have to worry about time zones or working hours. As a recipient I set my Teams /DND or use Quiet Hours or other features to limit the notifications I receive outside my teamwork hours. In my opinion delayed messaging would create more problems than benefits. Sender does not know if my schedule for this day is really different than on other days (let’s say I wake up at 3am to work for 3 hours before traveling for 12 hours and I continue working after that an hour. The sender has sent me a delayed message that arrives in my Teams on my normal working start time 9am – and includes something that should be done during the day. It would be late already. Without delay I could have worked on that before boarding the plane and things would progress. Perhaps a long shot information but do you know always the time zone your recipient lives on? Do you know how they manage their days? I want to control my team space notifications.

6/ Is the planned integration of Teams with Skype Consumer (https://bit.ly/2x9yirB) a forwards or backwards step?

RC: The tweet I sent on the roadmap item went viral. Clearly there are a lot of people that want it. Any industry that deals with consumers at home will want/use the feature. Banking/finance and medical in particular. So for those that want it. A step forward as long as it works better than it did in SfB server

AD: I believe it’s a step in both directions, but in a good way! Skype consumer is used by a lot of people and being able to communicate with those people from Microsoft Teams also, yet again drives the general adoption and usage forward

CH: One step back to get two steps ahead. I know organisations that won’t take Teams or cling to Skype for Business because it doesn’t integrate with Skype Consumer. This removes that barrier. It’s also a big win for B2C business. I am sure in the future we would all love to see Teams integrating with Teams Consumer edition which could be what Skype Consumer, or Kaizala (the standard version) ultimately becomes.

VN: It is a sidestep in some countries but there are countries that use Skype Consumer a lot and it will help communicating with people who don’t use Teams daily (they might use Teams Free via browser). And it also makes a new path to open discussion should Teams be integrated with other consumer products like WhatsApp, Google, Facebook Messenger etc. I think this relates mostly to Kaizala-integration as well and how do you communicate with external users

7/ To round off this particularly challenging set of questions on this Question Time, do you think that Private Teams ought to be discoverable (https://bit.ly/2GRNe0p) regardless of whether the functionality is there to make them discoverable or not?

RC: No. Same with PChat in SfB. The whole point of a private team is protecting the privacy of the contents and the identity should also be protected

AD: Generally, yes! It helps decrease the teams sprawl in the organisation and most often there’s no need to hide the team names. Although an option to hide certain teams is really great in those scenarios when people think it’s needed

CH: No. At one time I would have said yes as I had this big thing about total transparency but now I think that private should remain private otherwise it’s just going to push users to use shadow IT. That’s a big reason why apps like WhatsApp are rife within organisations. In addition, imagine a scenario where you are searching for Teams one day and you come across a Team that was called ‘Organisation Restructure and Redundancy Strategy’? That’s not going to be good to know. Some things are private to protect people and don’t work well in the public domain.

VN: No. The Private Teams discoverability needs to be controlled by admins / owners. There is always a need for some secret teams where even names cannot leak out. Who could create such “secret” teams could be controlled. The best option would be to have a policy that controls who can set a team discoverable so the option would not be available to all team owners