One of the questions we often hear is; how can Teams be any different from Slack? ‘Slack’ is a communication software for enterprise businesses. As you may or may not know, they have been around the block for a while, they created a software designed to improve communication within enterprise businesses. Microsoft Teams, however, is designed for every business, every individual and every team. Microsoft Teams is great for small business, big businesses, people with disabilities, organized people and not so organised people.
Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration application available in Office 365 and Microsoft 365 Business. Microsoft Teams not only wants to improve communication, but collaboration. Communicating can be easy – everyone can do that whether it be verbal or digital. However, little to no collaboration is a common issue we have seen working with organisations. It’s difficult to keep teams together when users are scattered across different locations. How do we get everyone working from different locations? How can they access the files they need to work? How can they communicate easier?
In this blog, we will compare features in Teams with Slack – as well as look at the roadmap for next year.
Microsoft new intelligent feature blurs out the background of an individual who’s video conferencing. Extremely useful for those busy offices or a not so organized ‘’work from home’’ environment that you don’t want everyone to know about. It’s also great for security. For example, you may be video conferencing a client, you’re too busy thinking about the topic of discussion that you don’t realised they can see this month’s sales prospects on a board behind you. Suddenly without releasing, you may have leaked critical company data. Easy mistake to make but could have been completely avoided using this feature.
Also, for those crowded offices, some employees/users don’t want to be in the background when your video conferencing – so this is a great time to use the feature. Lastly, it looks professional, because the speaker becomes the focus of the call rather than what’s going on in the background. Slack sadly doesn’t do this – so Teams is well ahead with this technology.
Let’s talk about design
Slack and Microsoft Teams are similar in Design, both having a side bar and the chat interface on the right which takes up majority of the screen.
Design is important. One difference we see with both applications is that the simplicity of Microsoft teams makes it easy for users to navigate around. It’s very clear and not overcrowded by a million features. Less is more. Another great thing about Microsoft Teams is its unique choice of colour which is great both for visual reasons but also accessibility reasons.
Microsoft Teams allows users to change the contrast of Teams, which is useful for users who have visual impairments. They can change the contrast of the software so they can see the text more clearly and suffer from less strain on their eyes. Organisations who are encouraging collaboration need to start investing in inclusive technology that can be used by everyone and not limiting.
Microsoft chat features are pretty self-explanatory but there are some cool features that can make communication easier.
- Font Options
There are more formatting features in Microsoft Teams which is useful for every single department/team in your organisation. If you want to add bullet points and make the text italic, Teams gives you that option. Users can also choose what font to use, insert links to text and much more in comparison to slack which doesn’t allow users to format text.
- GIFs in Chat
Slack and Microsoft Teams both enable users to use GIFs in conversations, this is great for building a strong team network – because what better way to express yourself than through memes?
Meetings and Calls
With recent changes in Microsoft Teams, users can take part in video and audio calls. There is a separate tab just for meetings – where users can view, accept, reject and even join meetings all from within the app.
The call features are also very varied, as users can call traditionally with just audio from different locations, but also share their screen if they need to demonstrate or present. You can also video conference call, which is great for keep a disparate team bonded, brainstorming sessions or even training.
Unfortunately, Slack does not allow users to access their calendar meetings, so they will not be able to see their schedule or edit their meeting through the app – however users can make audio and video calls.
This is where all the hard work happens, and we’ve seen so many organisations use this in different ways. Some users create Teams for departments where others would create teams for projects. Admin users can create teams and add people to the group, almost like WhatsApp. There is no right way to use this feature, but we recommend using it in a way that’s easy for your team members and easy for admins to manage.
How this channel really works? Users have the ability to save files into the channel and work on Microsoft and third-party applications. For example, a marketer can access Planner within the Marketing Teams’ channel so they can see the tasks for the following week. This is great because they don’t need to go outside of this software to reference information. Another reason this feature is useful because users can see other team members collaborating in the same document, so you’re constantly updated on the recent changes. We call this smarter working.
Files and Integrated Apps
Users can access their OneDrive files via Teams. They can easily navigate to the files tab to access all their documents. This feature is useful if you’re already communicating in Teams and quickly need to reference a document. You don’t need to click out of the software or look for the file when it can be found easily in Teams.
Another great feature is being able to access third-party applications within Teams. There are so many famous applications that can be accessed to help you work in one centralised space. For example, you can access a variety of applications like Adobe Sign, Zendesk, Hootsuite, Cisco Web, YouTube and much more! With this feature you can really speed up your work efforts. Microsoft Teams and Slack both have these functions; however, the choice of third-party applications will be majority of the time different on both software’s.
New Features Coming Soon to Teams
As mentioned before, Microsoft are constantly working to improve their applications to help users collaborate and communicate better. Here’s some new features that will make Slack users jealous!
- Customized Backgrounds in Video Meetings
Before we talked about the blur feature in Teams to disguise the background when video conferencing. This time, users can use an image as a backdrop to make their background either look ‘professional’ or ‘fun’. We think it’s great having this option as you can really make video conferencing exciting, keep the audience awake or
- Whiteboard feature.
Who needs an actual whiteboard when you have a virtual whiteboard in Microsoft Teams? We think this feature can be useful to everyone but especially creators! Creators in your team can benefit from this as they will be able to draft notes, scribbling down ideas and if by chance you have an actual whiteboard and want to upload those ideas onto the digital one, you can do so!
- Content Capture and Intelligent Capture
Microsoft Teams leverages new intelligent capture for remote users to brainstorm in real time. The way this technology works is users will need to be using any USB camera, then they are able to capture the image. They can even focus and resize it. Users can see this on the Whiteboard, and they can also enhance the text and images on the whiteboard too, which is great.
Why would anyone find this feature useful? Content creators, project teams and anyone who just likes to brainstorm ideas and plan on a virtual platform. If you have a virtual team and you’re worried their communication and work is disjointed, too much miscommunication and everyone is not on the same page – this feature would be extremely useful!
- Live captions & subtitles
As mentioned previously, Teams is designed for everyone. Users who suffer from visual or hearing impairments can use Teams as well, so they are not limited when it comes to virtual communication and collaboration. In Teams meetings, users can allow attendees to read speaker captions in real time so they can stay in sync and contribute to the discussion.
- Private Channels
Private channels have been highly requested by current Team users. It is the capability to customize which members in a team can see conversations and files associated in channels. This would help reduce visibility on certain information being shared in the channel. Microsoft will be testing this feature with a few current customers before confirming the release.
- Data Loss Prevention’s
Data loss prevention’s enables users to detect, automatically protect, and screen for sensitive information in Teams conversations. Team Admins can control what information leaves the organisation, so any critical company data shared in chats can be controlled – which is important! No one wants a data breach these days with GDPR around.
- Information Barriers
Information Barriers avoids conflict of interest by controlling who can communicate and collaborate with who. This helps to control information that is being going out to individuals who have different interests. It yet to confirm how this technology would work in this instance but it will be coming soon this year.
- Live events in Microsoft 365
Live events enables users to create a live and on demand event up to 10,000 participants in real-time from anywhere, across their devices. Participants can also access the recorded version of the event. This is great for webinars, online conferences or online training.
Yes, we know Slack did it first, but Microsoft did it better! Microsoft is using advanced technology to improve their software, making it easier for users to communicate and collaborate. They are constantly updating the application and making improvements.
Secondly, the unique features that are soon to be released this year make Microsoft Teams standout and differ from Slack. Teams enable users to be more productive and efficient with their advanced features. For example, the custom background feature when video conferencing will make a huge difference and we just cannot wait to start using it ourselves!
Thirdly, Microsoft is a reliable organisation when it comes to security. Teams has end to end encryption and will have DLP policies to ensure that critical company data is protected. That is just brilliant, a secure communication channel for your organisation.
We use Microsoft Teams every day, it has been a core part of our organisation when it comes to communicating and working together. We have seen a big difference in productivity because of the Integrated Microsoft Apps like Planner and OneNote. If you would like to know more about Teams and how it can work for your organisation, feel free to contact us!
We regularly run events around Teams, and other collaboration and flexible working products – check out out Eventbrite for more information on what’s coming up.