Microsoft Teams Background, more than just a pretty feature
For many of you, working from home has become your new norm. Being a team that has been remote-first since inception, we have learned a thing or two about working from home. In a recent article, Microsoft shared insights on major updates for Microsoft Teams, including the custom background feature.
Nothing beats meeting in person. The ability to shake hands, sit down, and connect with someone increases your connection with your peers, and we know it improves outcomes. While we cannot recreate this completely online, we can improve engagement by using video conferencing or having video chats. While a professional atmosphere is often preferred, on many of our calls, we have less formal backgrounds: our living rooms, basements, laundry rooms, or even with kids running around (though this can be distracting).
What Is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is continuing to invest in features that make it easier for employees to work remotely. With the advent of the current health crisis, Microsoft Teams has been in the news quite a bit, and some might say it is becoming a core part of our everyday work tools (as crucial as Outlook).
By now, you’ve probably read or heard about the latest on Microsoft Teams and its explosive growth, as well as its newest contender, Zoom, and how it compares in features, costs, and security. If you are new to Microsoft Teams, check out this interactive demo to experience what you are missing.
Custom Microsoft Teams Background in Meetings
One of the features that transformed my day was custom images for backgrounds. For a while now, Microsoft Teams provided you with the ability to blur your background, to reduce distractions, and keep others focused on you, not your surroundings.
The latest version allows you to change background images with a selection of preset images. While out of the box this selection is limited, you can now add custom backgrounds to the roster.
This feature made my day as I happily came up with 2-3 new backgrounds to use in the first (internal) Teams meeting where a colleague pointed out that the feature had made its way to our tenant. I laughed and marveled at my colleague’s creativity, and for a moment, everything went “off the rails,” but we were happy.
It did not make me more productive at that moment, though, but to be frank, it helped lifts our spirits, smaller things like this delight, and increase adoption. There is a “time and place” for creativity and exploration. This meeting was a safe spot for this kind of digression/fun. While we do not recommend doing this on highly professional, formal, or focused calls, it is a great way to lighten the mood when the time is right.
A few comments on this subject on Twitter pointed out that organizations are already asking how to set up the “official” company background or disable the feature altogether. If you are managing this from an organizational perspective, there are things you should consider.
I understand the concerns. However, I also want to offer some simple suggestions to integrate this into your meeting flow and boost productivity. It does not always need to be a simple background to ‘appear’ office or focused.
⦁ You could have the background be a meeting agenda for a training event.
⦁ You could make the background information be about you.
⦁ What your top strengths were from your Strength finder’s assessment.
⦁ What your Myers-Briggs personality type.
⦁ It can potentially include your contact info for a virtual event.
⦁ For sales, have an image that outlines “I love Company X” or your “orgs logo <3 company” messages.
The key is to find the appropriate Microsoft Teams background for the situation. Try it yourself and see what works best for you.
Other Notable Enhancements We Love
To the delight of many seeking that more personal connection, a 7×7 gallery view of meeting attendees will be available soon, which will allow us to have up to 49 colleagues at the same time, great for team building!
Particularly useful for larger meetings, a virtual option to “raise hand” finally made its way into the platform, allowing attendees to provide a visual queue instead of just jumping in without warning.