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7 tips for safe online meetings and collaboration with Microsoft Teams

Remote and hybrid work has become the new norm for many employees across the globe as day-to-day collaboration continues to be accomplished virtually. With this shift to online communication, how can you ensure that you’re collaborating safely? 

Queue Microsoft Teams! Whether you’re hosting virtual meetings, carrying out daily group and 1:1 chat, sharing documents, or coauthoring in a document in real-time – Teams enables safe and secure collaboration! 

Tip 1: Control who can join your Microsoft Teams meetings directly and present 

Meeting organizers can change participant settings for a specific meeting through the Meeting options web page. In Teams, go to your Calendar, select a meeting, and then select Meeting options. From here you can determine settings like who needs to be admitted to the meeting and who can bypass the lobby to join it directly. Additionally, you can decide which participants are able to join with the presenter role to present out content and who should join as standard attendees. Another helpful control for large meetings is the ability to prevent attendees from unmuting themselves – this is particularly useful when the meeting will be led by specific participants while the rest of the audience will be listening in. Note that your organization controls the default participant settings. 

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Tip 2: Minimize Teams meeting disruptions by muting individual or all meeting attendees 

In order to prevent meeting disruptions, intentional or accidental, as a meeting organizer you have the ability to mute individual attendees or all meeting attendees. If an attendee happens to leave their microphone unmuted while being away, you can easily mute that participant from the participant pane. During large meetings led by designated speakers, such as a town hall or lecture, the ability to mute all attendees ensures your presenters won’t be accidentally interrupted. 

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Tip 3: Determine who can present content or share their screen in your Teams meeting 

As the meeting organizer, you can determine who has the ability to present out content or share their screen within the meeting. Prior to the meeting start, we discussed above how this can be accomplished via Meeting options. Once your meeting has begun, you can select a participant via the participant pane to determine whether they have the presenter role or are a standard attendee. This can be especially useful when you have outside participants attending your meeting who may only need the presenter role temporarily. 

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Tip 4: End your Teams meeting for everyone in attendance at once 

As the meeting organizer, sometimes the meeting needs to end at your discretion without allowing participants to remain. Ending a meeting for all attendees is often applicable in large-meeting settings such as a town hall, lecture, or webinar class to ensure attendees don’t remain in the meeting. Once a meeting has wrapped up, instead of clicking Leave, select the dropdown located next to it and click End Meeting. You can also access this by going into your meeting controls, click more options (…) , and select End Meeting. This will end and close the meeting for everyone in attendance. 

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Tip 5: Create a team with increased security 

If any of the content stored or discussed within the team may be considered business sensitive, such as financial details or classified project information, it’s best practice to apply increased protections to that team to ensure the content security. This can be accomplished by creating a new team and applying an IT-created sensitivity label. When applying a sensitivity label to your team, it automatically applies the configured protections to the team. 

When creating a new team, on the sensitivity and privacy pane select the dropdown under Sensitivity to select an IT-created sensitivity label to apply to the team. As a reminder, it’s always best to check with your organization or IT department on how sensitive business information should be stored. 

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Tip 6: Create a private channel 

Sometimes you need to share sensitive information within a team to specified team members only, such as project details or strategic planning, that doesn’t require holistic team protection. Rather than creating a new team, you can create a private channel within an existing team that is only accessible to designated members. This is a great way to provide a security layer to protect sensitive business information without creating a new team. 

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 7 tips for safe online meetings and collaboration with Microsoft Teams

To create a private channel, go to the team and choose more options (…) and select Add channel. After providing a name and description, under Privacy select the dropdown arrow to specify the channel is Private – Accessible only to a specific group of people within the team. Once created, you can add additional private channel owners and up to 250 members. As a reminder, it’s always best to check with your organization or IT department on how sensitive business information should be stored. 

Tip 7: Help protect sensitive data in Teams 

Microsoft Teams supports data protection policies to help protect sensitive information from being accidentally or inadvertently shared. When collaborating in a Teams 1:1 or channel chat, you may have a message return as blocked if that message contains information that meets your organization’s sensitive information policy. 

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 7 tips for safe online meetings and collaboration with Microsoft Teams

If your message is blocked, within that blocked message you may see a clickable link that says What can I do? If you click that link, a helpfully policy tip created by your organization will display educating you on why content within that message is considered business sensitive. Policy tips are designed to help the sender understand why certain content is considered business sensitive or is best practice not to share. 

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We hope that these safe online collaboration tips will help you remain productive while having the confidence you’re remaining secure. 

Three ways your SMB customers are more secure with Microsoft 365 Business

We all read about the big data breaches – the ones that hit major corporations, with millions of personal records compromised. But today’s cybercriminals aren’t picky. Their nets catch businesses of any size, from the newest garage startup to well-established organizations with several hundred employees. Those are the businesses with perhaps the most to lose from a successful attack, whether from an interruption in business service or outright theft of customer or product information. 

Statistics bear this out: 

  • Surveys show that 58 percent of business-related cyberattacks are directed at small- to medium-sized business.[1] 
  • Average cost of a data breach to these businesses: $120,000.[2] 
  • And yet, 62 percent of SMBs lack effective digital protection.[3] 

But we get it. We know your customers probably feel overwhelmed with just running a business, let alone installing protection against digital thieves. That’s why showing your clients the benefits of the modern security built into Microsoft 365 Business helps you build a thriving practice. At the same time, you’ll give your SMB customers the ability to simplify their security strategy and confidently embrace new technology. 

Here are three reasons why your customers will thank you for helping them adopt the modern productivity cloud solution with leading security: Microsoft 365 Business. 

  1. Defend against cyber-attacks: Your customers will get protection from sophisticated, external cyber threats hidden in email attachments and links, and get cutting-edge defenses against phishing and spoofing attacks, ransomware, and other advanced malware attempts. These attacks are becoming more sophisticated every day, and the SMB space is a frequent target. 
  2. Retain control over their company data and documents– This is something that will give your customers peace of mind. Protection from data leaks will help them protect sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers. They also can control access to important company documents, even after those documents have been shared outside your company. 
  3. Manage apps, data, and documents on any device:Customers have full control over their company data. Regardless of the device type or operating system, iOS, macOS, Android, or Windows, Microsoft 365 Business helps you manage mobile devices. 

Plus, when you sell your customers on the security benefits of Microsoft 365 Business, you have the backing of Microsoft’s industry-leading experience protecting people and data. Microsoft is a serious security vendor, with a ton of experience in this space and the numbers to back it up. For example, each month our Outlook.com and Office 365 emails services analyze some 400 billion emails for security threats. We provide enterprise security for 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and operate more than 200 global cloud, consumer, and commercial services – all of which require advanced security. 

Best of all, moving customers to Microsoft 365 Business increases your value to customers. You can support one integrated solution across productivity, security, and device management while simplifying your customer’s technology investment and enabling them to operate more efficiently, cost-effectively, and securely. It also creates room for you to earn with managed services and Modern Workplace incentives. 

Visit the US SMB Modern Workplace landing page for resources related to starting a security practice and GTM assets to win new customers. Be sure to also watch this Advanced Security Opportunity webinar to learn more about the partner opportunity around Microsoft 365 Business that will increase your revenue and provide a stronger connection with your customers. 

[1]Verizon 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report 

[2]Kaspersky Lab study, 2018 

[3]Underserved and Unprepared: The State of SMB Cyber Security in 2019

5 steps for boosting your digital transformation with Microsoft 365

So how can we help bring your vision of the world’s productivity cloud—Microsoft 365—to life? 

Step 1: Get industry-specific guidelines with the Productivity Library 

Start with understanding how Microsoft 365 can improve productivity in your specific role or industry using scenarios and best practices with the Productivity Library. The Productivity Library is available for a wide range of industries including financial services, retail, and healthcare and gets granular for roles like operations, sales, and human resources

Step 2: Develop a plan with the Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide 

The Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide helps you to not just identify and prioritize key scenarios, but also helps you understand how to best build and launch your adoption plan with your stakeholders. The Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide will help you drive business value by showing you how to monitor and track adoption and usage. 

Step 3: Create your advocates and champions 

When you’re ready to start training your users, we recommend leveraging the power of the Office 365 Champions program. This program is designed to help you create a circle of influence for those early adopters or go-to people in your organization and empower them to become your Office 365 Champions. This program provides support and resources to help these users find a more efficient way to tackle everyday tasks and then share those learnings with their peers. 

Step 4: Build your own learning portal 

Did you know you can build a custom training portal with just a few clicks? Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is a customizable, on-demand learning solution designed to increase usage and adoption of Microsoft 365 services in your organization. This includes on-demand custom training, SharePoint Online portal provisioning, and straightforward steps to provision, customize, and share your new portal with users. 

Step 5: Track users progress 

Once you implement some of these learning resources you’ll need some tools to help you to track your software adoption progress. The new Microsoft Productivity Score—currently in private preview—will provide you with visibility into how your organization 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. 

For companies who want to help their employees better understand how they spend their time and guide them to better work habits and team norms, we encourage you to turn on MyAnalytics. This tool helps users improve their focus, wellbeing, network, and collaboration. 

MyAnalytics is available to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Enterprise and Business suite users. 

Finally, for a top-down view, we offer Workplace Analytics. Workplace Analytics provides more advanced tools to discover and analyze the business impact of the way people work and help drive change through MyAnalytics. It gives you a view into collaboration patterns that empowers organizations to act with agility, improve employee experience, and sharpen customer focus. 

Workplace Analytics is available as a Microsoft 365 add-on service. 

Check out the Microsoft 365 Knowledge podcast 

To help you better understand why Microsoft 365 is the world’s productivity cloud, I encourage you to check out the Microsoft 365 Knowledge podcast. Hosted by veteran IT blogger Paul Thurrott, this podcast series digs into the features and functionality across the products that make up Microsoft 365. We also share real-world tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the product. The first two episodes are available on demand. 

Every company’s path to digital transformation is different. Over the next few months we’ll bring you more resources, as well as interviews with organizations who share their tips and secrets on their own successful transformations and their learnings from these projects on how they harnessed the transformative power of Microsoft 365—the world’s productivity cloud. 

How Office 365's newest features will improve business operations

Office 365 has been a staple business tool for six years. The program has evolved considerably in that time to better serve modern users and address company pain points as employee and consumer demands shift. Added functionalities have consistently improved Office 365 to the universal status it holds among organizations, and it will continue to advance in the future. Let's take a closer look at how Office 365's newest features will improve business operations.

1. Better service visibility

When your critical functions rely on a vendor's availability, it can be challenging to know when an issue appears and how to respond. Office 365 recently rolled out a commercial release of its service health dashboard. According to Redmond Magazine contributor Kurt Mackie, this function allows subscribers to access a dashboard that will show actionable service incidents and advisories, as well as the current state of their program. This portal provides better visibility into your Office 365 services and workaround information for any emerging issues. Future updates will allow users to send messages to each other, receive incident notifications and get health checks from IT professionals.

The service health dashboard will considerably improve business operations by quickly providing updates and necessary details for how to address an issue. This information will minimize downtime and help organizations quickly recover from problems.

Office 365 now offers visibility into service health.Office 365 now offers visibility into service health.

2. Improved collaboration

Staff members must have a tool that enables them to communicate and collaborate effectively, no matter where they are working from. Microsoft introduced this functionality through Microsoft Teams in Office 365. The chat-based tool enables team collaboration for subscribers in 181 markets serving 19 languages, IT-Online stated. Microsoft Teams is becoming a project hub to find notes, tasks and documents in line with team conversations. The tool also has support for high contrast, screen readers and keyboard-only navigation. This type of accessibility provides new opportunities for businesses and will continue to add functionality in the future.

"Microsoft's Office 365 Secure Score API evaluates the risk of cloud services."

3. Advanced security

In the age of evolving cyber threats, organizations must have the right security to protect their sensitive company and consumer data. With the number of tools within Office 365, it can be difficult to manage all of these assets and provide the necessary authorizations. Office 365 Groups establishes a single team identity and set of permissions across Office 365 services, CMSWire contributor Dean Swann stated. This will help easily provision and take away capabilities to ensure information security. No matter what features that you decide to use, it will be much simpler to add users and grant access while maintaining protections.

Organizations have long been concerned about the safety measures within the cloud and whether it's secure enough to store sensitive information. For industries with compliance regulations, it's even more imperative to have a tool that adheres to these regulations. Microsoft's Office 365 Secure Score API evaluates the risk of cloud services, and if your particular data would be secure. According to Redmond Magazine's Chris Paoli, Secure Score monitors 77 different factors including user behaviors and security settings. The score from these points can be used to mitigate risk and identify trouble areas. Secure Score will also provide suggestions on how to improve your protections and ensure your cloud environment is safe.

Office 365's newest features have a lot to offer business operations. These additions will significantly improve security, collaboration and overall visibility. Staff can make informed decisions faster and ensure their systems are responding appropriately. To find about how to take advantage of Office 365's newest tools, contact ISG Technology today.