The company I work for, like many others, now has all of its employees working remotely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. To help with meetings and collaboration generally, it rolled out Microsoft Teams across the entire business at short notice.
There was no time for formal training, which meant we had to learn how to use it on the fly. One seemingly simple operation in Teams which initially baffled both me and several of my colleagues is how to start a group video call.
The instructions in Microsoft Support are very straightforward:
1. Go to your chat list, and click New chat to start a new conversation.
2. Type the name or names into the To field at the top of your new chat.
3. Then click Video call or Audio call to start a call.
But hidden within these three simple steps are a couple of 'gotchas'.
The 'New chat' option mentioned in the first step exists as both a text link and an icon (in two different places). However the former is only visible if you are in the 'Recent' submenu - you won't be able to see it if you are in 'Contacts'. Now you see it:
And now you don't:
Meanwhile the icon, while present at all times, is hardly conspicuous. It sits on its own in the title bar, often neither to the left nor the right. And when you don't have the Teams app actively selected, this 'New Chat' icon changes colour from white on blue to an unassuming kind of light purple on blue.
Once you have clicked 'New chat', it's clear where to type the names of the people you want to call. But where are the 'Video call or Audio call' buttons? When you are in an existing chat, these buttons appear in the top right - now they are nowhere to be seen!
The trick is that you need to follow the prompt and start to 'Type your first message below' - even if you only want to make a video call. As soon as you click in the 'Type a new message' box, the 'Video call' and 'Audio call' buttons will appear in their usual position in the top right - alongside 'Screen sharing'.
So perhaps those instructions in Microsoft Support need a little bit of elaboration: