Microsoft Teams Calling Features - What's Possible With Teams 365?

Nathan Hill-Haimes

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    Microsoft Office 365 comes with a whole host of practical applications. Businesses have found Microsoft Teams exceptionally useful, not least because it can transform how employees make and receive calls and voice messages. So, what are the Microsoft Teams calling features that are making it so popular?

    What are the Microsoft Teams calling features available in MS 365?

    Microsoft Teams allows its users to make calls using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to other Teams users. Teams makes it easy to hold scheduled or impromptu voice or video calls through Teams with other people in your organisation or those sat externally who are also using Teams. Additionally, two options are available to allow users to make and receive calls to landlines and mobile phones using the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Users can make calls over the PSTN by adding a phone system calling plan, which provides a phone number for your users, or the 'Direct Connect' plan, through which an organisation can connect their existing PSTN to Microsoft Teams. Once a user has set up their Teams account, they will find that Teams supports all of the basic phone system features that they might expect. Calls can be initiated using a name or number (through an integrated dialling pad) and answered, forwarded or put on hold. Users will be able to see their call history and set up voicemail functionality. Microsoft Teams can also conduct emergency calling, calling the emergency services in the same way you could from a mobile or landline. However, Microsoft does stress that whilst this is possible using Teams, this method may lack the geo-location ability that users would have when calling from a mobile or landline, and so should not be considered the default way to make emergency calls.

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    How do I enable call features in Microsoft Teams?

    When it comes to the call features in Teams to dial external numbers, decisions will need to be made at an organisational level as to the best type of call plan for your company, including whether you wish to direct route an existing PTSN. The planning process will likely involve multiple stakeholders and considerations of your budget and longer-term plans for moving work remotely onto teams. In terms of the VoIP calls that can be made between Teams users, enabling these is relatively straightforward. The person responsible for configuring your phone system and calling plans within Office 365 will be able to choose which applications are used to receive and make calls. Of note is that calls can be received either in Teams or within Skype for Business (if your organisation is still using this application). The system cannot be configured to allow calls to be received in both. Conversely, calls can be made either from Skype for Business or Teams. So, don't worry if you are still using Skype for Business, because even if you've configured calling for Skype, the users will still be able to choose to place a call from Teams. Once you have established your Teams channel or channels, users will be able to make calls simply by searching for the person they want to call within the chat function. As well as starting a chat, the option to start a video or audio call will also be available. The same functionality is provided when setting up a meeting, and the organiser can provide an audio-only option for users to dial in without video capability.

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    Can I call someone who isn't on Teams with Teams Calling?

    The simple answer is yes! It is easy to use Teams functionality to schedule meetings and make voice or video calls with someone who isn't working on Microsoft Teams. If you want to get a third party involved in a Teams call, whether someone outside your organisation or just someone in a different part of your organisation who doesn't use Teams, you can. They will need to participate in the Teams call with you a stable internet connection and a reasonably up-to-date web browser. The browser doesn't need to be a specific browser, and they will not need to install Teams to participate in the call with you. Teams' features allow close collaboration, meaning that you can work on documents with external parties by inviting them to join your Teams account as a guest. In this capacity, they will access your Teams and participate in any of the calls and projects you are running. Even better, they can collaborate with you in real-time, without risking the integrity or security of your Teams account. If you are getting started on Teams, the easiest way to arrange a Teams meeting or call with someone outside of your organisation is to create a new meeting in Outlook and then use the Teams meeting switch in the calendar.

    Call recording with MS Teams Calling

    There has been a meeting recording option available within Microsoft Teams for quite some time. Still, a recent update has provided a new opportunity to record all of their meetings automatically. Call recording can now be done using the "record automatically" option, which can be found on the meetings options page in the main menu and is available to desktop and mobile users and those on the web client. The user will be able to turn this option on for a single meeting or choose to enable it for a whole series of meetings. Microsoft has provided this as a valuable tool for users who sometimes forget to hit the record button and only realise a moment too late. The primary purpose of the call recording is to help collaborate and ensure that remote workers or those working non-standard patterns are not left out of any critical briefings. Critics have argued that Microsoft was behind the curve on adding this option because one of the main rivals to Microsoft Teams, Zoom, has already provided the functionality to record meetings for some time now automatically. Either way, this valuable facet of the tool brings Teams in line and is likely to help boost productivity for users. In conclusion, Teams offers an impressive range of call options, whether VoIP calls between users or through PSTN to landline and mobile users.

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