Tagged: Teams

Work from home checklist

This post provides a short checklist on things you might need to work from home #WFH and remote to your default office location. These days we face more and more constraints in our day-to-day life and at work due to COVID-19. I like to answer the common question “What do I need to work remotely?” or “What do I have to provide my employees that they can work from home?”. Independently of the current situation nevertheless due to the situation and many request regarding this question.

For sure, not all jobs and tasks can be done remotely, but most jobs where people usually work in offices could be done remotely instead of a certain Office location.

Source: https://www.pexels.com/de-de/foto/arbeit-architektur-drinnen-fenster-2764182/

Basic technical requirements to work remote

  • Internet connection with
    • sufficient bandwidth (I’d propose > 16 mbits)
    • and low latency for real-time communication (audio & video conferencing)
  • Mobile devices
    • laptop, mac, tablet or similar
    • smart phone | especially for security reasons to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Headset or speaker (mic + speaker)
  • Webcam (for video chat or conferencing)
  • (optional) additional (power) extension lead with protection of over voltage
  • suited plugs, cables etc. for all devices
  • Secured corporate app services to being access remotely by remote workers, for instance
    • chat communication
    • audio / video conferencing
    • application / desktop sharing
    • e-mail
    • telephony (PSTN)
      • soft phone for phone calls to/from PSTN
      • and/or smartphone for phone calls to/from PSTN
    • files, e.g. PDFs, Word, Excel, PowerPoints etc.
    • co-authoring to edit files by multiple users the same time
    • line of business (LOB) apps (as needed), e.g. CRM, CAD, …

Advanced technical requirements to work remote

In certain cases and depending on how often and long you work remote it might make sense to level up your remote equipment, let’s say from a occasional mobile remote worker to a more regular home office remote worker. For example, I could not and don’t want to work remotely only having my laptop all the time it’s to small and uncomfortable on the long term. That’s why I’d like to add some advanced technical requirements for working remote for the long term.

  • docking station for laptops and periphere devices (headset, webcam, displays…)
  • USB hub (in case more devices need to be connected via usb as available usb ports in the docking station)
  • > 1x larger screen, e.g. 1x 27″ or 2x 24″ display/s attached to the laptop docking station via HDMI or else with sufficient quality
  • (optional) USB printer (in case there is some legacy paper work to print out, fill out and send out via (physical) mail (distribution)
  • (optional) USB scanner (I’d recommend Office Lense instead however to complete the list I’d say a scanner could be helpful if you cope with legacy paper work and you must scan many paper pages a day)

Other (optional/recommended) requirements to work remote

I think the above hardware, equipment and services should enable you and/or your users to work from home or anywhere else in a comfortable way. Thus you should also consider the following to work productively from remote. Environmental variables.

  • Room / space / noise / door | It’s more comfortable and less distracting to a have a dedicated room or space (or have at least very good headsets with active noise cancelation (ANC) built-in, which filters out most of the noise).
  • Ergonomic chair | If you work the whole day sitting on your sofa or dining table it might not be the right place and you end up with headaches or a back and neck which hurts.
  • Desk / table | A suited desk also keeps your posture ok and in shape in conjunction with the suited chair.
  • Light | To see something on your screen to much and to little light can be disadvantageous on the long term, so you should have a good lamp.
  • (optional) Box | Depending on where you work (e.g. a home office space) it might supporting to have a box or bag where you can put everything together after your business hours to really enjoy after-work life if you cannot just close a room’s door.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

To work from home or remotely and be productive can be comfortable if the requirements and prerequisites for a modern workplace are given. If not it’s not much fun and you might be not very productive. It’s also important to have some small talk with your co-workers and team mates because it’s different to work remote if you are used to work almost up to five days in an office. So, don’t forget about some basic “small / coffee talk” to keep in sync with your co-workers.

Additional resources

Safe attachments and links to protect your Office 365 collaboration

In this post I describe how you can configure safe attachments and safe links in Microsoft Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to make your communication and collaboration a more secure. It is for your Office 365 workloads (SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Exchange Online and Microsoft Teams).

Please note, that is is just one of many measures to secure your communication and collaboration in Microsoft Office 365. This is only a single part – well, two capabilities – of a more holistic and required security architecture concept. Moreover, the below description, configuration etc. might change anytime and is just an example, demo piece.

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/sicherheit-sichern-gesperrt-2168233/

Basics

Let me describe it as follows short and simplified:

What are Safe Links?

Safe Links are (hyper)links/urls which are pre-checked (in a sandbox) before a user opens the link. This “pre-check” is built to check if the website behind the link is ok or might be bad, start to download malware or something else which might harm your system/s.

What are Safe Attachments?

Safe Attachment[s] is a feature which checks attachments and tries to detect if it is malicious.

Requirements

You need a subscription which includes Microsoft [Office] 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).

To configure this your administrative Office 365 account must have the global admin, security admin or Exchange Online Organization Management role assigned.

Configuration overview and walk-through

For both, you can start at https://security.microsoft.com/securitypolicies in the Microsoft 365 Security portal.
The following screenshots depict what I configured, so you can of course configure it another way depending on your needs and requirements.

1 Open https://security.microsoft.com/securitypolicies
2 Policies
3 + 4 Configure each (ATP safe attachments + ATP safe links)

ATP Safe Attachments

1 Enable ATP for SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams
2 Save it, to enable it
3 Protect attachments – create a new safe attachments policy

1 + 2 Give it a name + description
3 Configure handling
4 + 5 Enable redirect of potentially maliciouse attachements to another mail [don’t use a usual mailbox, create a “dumpster mailbox” just for that purpose]
6 Configure condition/s / exception/s
7 Save it

Validate input and check if the policy is enabled and the priority fits in case you create several policies.

ATP Safe Links

1 Configure the default Safe Links organization policy
2 Create Safe Link policies for specific recipients

1 Enable it for all Office 365 Apps, … iOS and Android
2 Configure “reporting” + handling

1 + 2 Give it a name + description
3 Turn it on
4 Enable real-time scanning for URLs including content for download
5 Enable it internally, too
6 Configure “reporting”
7 Enable – disables users to click the original URL from the warning page if it is blocked

1 Configure condition/s / exception/s

Validate input and check if the policy is enabled and the priority fits in case you create several policies.

Finally, test and verify your configuration. Regularly take a look into your security reports to enhance your configurations. Plus, don’t forget from time to time to check out what has changed to keep your security configurations always at a current level.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

Safe Links and Safe Attachments are very helpful features in Microsoft Office 365 to make your communication and collaboration more secure regarding sending/receiving links and attachments. These two features are options to increase your security setup with Office 365. I think it might be a good idea to enable it if you do not yet have something like this in place already.

Although it makes links and attachments safe[r] there are more and more advanced/intelligent threats and approaches available to trick and compromise users and systems. So, admin and user security awareness is also essential although you can get rid of many threats with a holistic security architecture and technical solution or service implementations.

Additional resources

How to secure Microsoft Teams? Some thoughts.

In this post I give you an architectural overview on thoughts, ideas and options to a more secure communication and collaboration experience with Microsoft Teams.

It’s inevitable to provide a secure, modern and usable (!) solution for your users, your company and keep identities and [information] assets secure. I want to emphasize usable because you can surely set up a highly secure service, however, if you do so, nobody might be able to use it because you locked it too restrictively. So, this will probably cause other headaches, first of all users need to get work done and might workaround that highly secured service [just using anything else which they find online]. No adoption. Hence, the added value of the communication and collaboration solution and the ROI will never be achieved. That’s why you need to figure out a suited balance between security and collaboration.

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/lernen-hinweis-schule-betreff-3245793/
Source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/lernen-hinweis-schule-betreff-3245793/

Microsoft Teams as part of the Microsoft 365 cloud services can leverage these comprehensive security features to enable a secured communication and collaboration. Besides the fact that Microsoft encrypts data in transit as well as at rest.

The following slides contain what you could do to secure your Microsoft Teams communication and collaboration experience by not giving up usability and a modern teamwork experience.

Beyond these basic security considerations in the slides you could, of course , also make further and more granular optimizations, for example …

  • in the Microsoft Office 365 Admin Center
  • in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center
  • in the Microsoft SharePoint Online Admin Center
  • in the Microsoft One Drive for Business Admin Center
  • in the Microsoft Exchange Online Admin Center
  • as well as in other Microsoft Admin Centers

as needed.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

Microsoft 365 enables you to secure Microsoft Teams and Office 365 with the eligible licenses. There are many aspects around securing your modern teamwork experience. It starts with general identity and information protection and goes ahead with fine tuning Microsoft Office 365, Teams, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Yammer etc. There are some bigger and some smaller switches to be aware of and to configure modern teamwork secure. E.g. guest access, external access (federation), message policies, meeting/conferencing policies, app setup policies, app permission policies and many more. At least but not at last you also should think about monitoring and auditing so that you’ll be able to trace things in case it is required.

Additional resources

Modern Meetings with Microsoft Teams

In this post I provide an overview on key capabilities with modern meetings with Microsoft Teams. It enables you and your fellow co-workers for modern meetings [almost] anywhere, anytime and on [almost] any device.

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/webinar-conferencing-video-beverage-3199164/

Key capabilities

Microsoft Teams offers you the following key capabilities for meetings but are not limited to these:

  • online meetings
  • audio conferencing
  • video conferencing
  • interactiv application and desktop sharing
  • dialin phone numbers from 65+ countries around the world
  • versatile clients and devices (mobiles, rooms, browsers, Windows, Linux)
  • recording
  • recording – transcript – for many languages (speech-to-text to transcript)
  • calendar integration (Outlook, Exchange, Teams)

Do more with Microsoft Teams Meetings

Microsoft Teams enables for modern meetings so that you can easily communicate and collaborate, either in a planned or scheduled meeting. No matter if you are in transit, in a meeting room, at a desk or any other space. The things you need are the right equipment as well as a sufficient connection, i.e. Internet or in case you are in transit at least cell coverage to dialin by phone.

Microsoft and partners offer many certified devices for Microsoft Teams depending on your needs and requirements to get that modern meeting experience for your users. Therefore you can get a glimpse on the “Microsoft Teams enabled devices” page to explore and discover what kind of devices are available and what devices are suited for which meeting space or scenario.

Source: Microsoft Teams enabled devices

Basically, there you can find

  • Headsets | user devices
  • Speakerphones | lightweight and compact user/room equipment
  • Desk phones | IP phones for users, lobby or other user cases
  • Room systems | for collaboration in meeting rooms and spaces
  • Conference phones | for conference rooms
  • Cameras | for users, rooms and other spaces

Conclusion, opinion and summary

Modern meetings with Microsoft Teams are easy and offer all the above key capabilities which are important to users today. Users get enabled to do more with Teams meetings and make meetings more productive and more fun, too, because client and device capabilities are available and easy to use and access with no frills and unhandy controls or preparation tasks for a Teams meeting. You can just meet, collaborate and focus on what you need to do.

Additional resources

Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice Study

In this post I highlight a study publication by Forrester regarding Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice. Forrester is a market research and analysis company focused on the information technology sector. Microsoft mandated Forrester to carry out the study on Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice.

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/lernen-hinweis-schule-betreff-3245793/

What’s the study for?

The so called TEI (short for “Total Econonomic Impact”) study examines Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice in regards of

  • benefits
  • costs and
  • risks.

What does the study say?

To sum it up a little bit the study provides the following key aspects:

  • employees save time due to telephony integration in Microsoft Teams
  • integration enhances business outcomes
  • Microsoft 365 Cloud Voice enables companies to replace legacy telephony systems (PBX/s)
  • costs for telephony are reduced
  • better security and compliance because of its integration in the Microsoft security and compliance capability stack
  • higher availability as (legacy) PBX
  • better performance as (legacy) PBX
  • better scalability as (legacy) PBX
  • higher employee/user satisfaction especially for younger employees
  • reduced total cost of ownership (TCO)

Well, for details, I’d recommend to read the study by yourself [see links at the bottom].

Conclusion, summary and opinion

In my view the study can be seen as supporting document for you in case your are about to decide on what’s next for your company’s telephony due to ending support or just because you want to embrace modern workplace at your company. The study gives you some numbers, facts and figures for further consideration, evaluation and decision making.

Additional resources

Read receipts in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft rolled out read receipts in Teams. It shows you if your messages were read or not. By default it’s enabled. You get a popup that read receipts is available and how it looks like. In this post I provide an overview.

Teams Client

In the Teams client settings you can disable or enable it depending on what’s configured in your Office 365 tenant.

Screenshot Teams Client [de-de] – User Notification
Screenshot Teams Client [de-de] – Teams client settings

Teams Admin Center

If required, a Teams administrator can configure read receipts by modifying Teams messaging policies in the Teams Admin Center as depicted below.

Screenshot Microsoft Teams Admin Center – Messaging policies – Global policy
  • By default, read receipts are on and the message policy configuration is set to“User Preference” which means that users can disable it within their Teams Client settings.
  • Turned on for everyone: It’s enabled for all users and a user cannot turn it off.
  • Turned off for everyone: It’s disabled for all users and a user cannot turn it on.

Limitations [January 2020]

The “Manage messaging policies in Teams” documentation says

  • it is for 1:1 chat or chats with up to 20 people
  • it is not caputered in eDiscovery reports

Conclusion, opinion and summary

It’s another neat feature to easily recognize if your chat message was read or not. Thus you can decide how to react, e.g. send a priority notification or make a call.

Screenshot Teams Client [de-de] – Teams client chat – Priority options

Additional resources

How to connect analog devices to Microsoft Teams?

In this post I give you an architectural overview on how you can connect analog devices, e.g. fax machines, analog phones, door bells, intercoms etc. to Microsoft Teams.

Preamble

First of all, I’d recommend to please get rid of your analog devices. Let me guess you are probably reading this because you have some of these poor and legacy analogs which you cannot get rid of for some reasons?

  • If this is the case:
    Well, ok, let’s go ahead to keep your existing investments in analog devices and get it to work.
  • If not, i.e. you can get rid of them:
    Skip this post and read something more interesting. 😉

Goal

The goal is to add analog devices to a Microsoft Teams voice/telephony deployment.

Use Cases – Analog Telephony with Teams user and PSTN

The uses cases are defined as follows:

  1. call from an analog device to a Teams user
  2. call from a Teams user to an analog device
  3. call from an analog device to a PSTN (external) phone (number) [e.g. mobile phone]
  4. call from a PSTN (external) phone to an analog device

Architecture Overview

In this architectural sketch you can see a high level Microsoft Teams Direct Routing deployment including an analog device which is connected via an anlog [device] gateway.

It includes

  • [left] PSTN sip trunk [from your PSTN provider of choice],
  • [center] a (certified) session border controller (SBC),
  • [center] a analog [device] gateway
    • sip trunk between analog gateway and SBC
    • analog link (FXS, RJ11) between analog gateway and analog device
  • [center-right] analog device [connect to analog gateway]
  • [right] a Microsoft Phone System sip trunk
  • [right] a Microsoft Teams User

Requirements

What are the requirements for this? To keep it short, you need:

  1. Teams Direct Routing (TDR) [for details, please see Plan Direct Routing]
  2. Analog [Device] Gateway

Note: In case you have Microsoft Teams and utilize calling plans for telephony already but need these analog devices added you can add Teams Direct Routing to what you’ve got already.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

To sum this up, to connect analog devices to your Microsoft Teams deployment you need Teams Direct Routing (TDR). Then you can attach an analog device to an analog (device) gateway which is linked to a certified SBC for Direct Routing which handles the voice routing (from/to PSTN/Microsoft Phone System/analog gateway).

Additional resources