Microsoft Teams 101: Using Reactions, Emojis, GIFs, Memes and Stickers in Chat

With emojis, GIFs, and stickers, you can bring your creative energy and sense of humor to group chats and one-on-one messages. These extras help to establish the tone and friendly intent in the absence of body language, facial expression, and the other benefits of in-person communication.

Reactions

The thumbs-up is a great way to quickly acknowledge a message from a colleague. This can keep things moving forward and productive.

The other reactions, love, laugh, wow, sad, and angry, are better for less formal messages and jokes. To react to a message in Microsoft Teams Chat, simply hover your mouse over the message and your reaction options will pop up above the top right corner of the message.

Emojis

Sometimes you want to express more than the menu of reactions allows. Enter emojis, small images used to express an idea or emotion. To insert an emoji, click on the smiley face under the “type a new message” box.

A grid of emoji options, like in the image below, will pop up. Click on the one you want to use.

You can even search for more emojis that don’t show up in the initial options.

GIFs

Although there is no consensus on how to pronounce it (some say “gift” without the T, some say “jif” like the peanut butter), everyone agrees that GIFs can add a lot to a chat conversation. A GIF is an image file that can be static or animated.

Microsoft Teams comes equipped with lots of GIFs that you can use to add expression to your chats. To add a GIF, click on the “GIF” image under the “type a new message” box.

Memes and Stickers

Want even more options to flavor your Microsoft Teams chats? Check out the memes and stickers.

A meme is an image, usually with text, that shares commentary on cultural symbols, social ideas, or current events. In Teams, you can create your own custom memes. The stickers available in Teams are, essentially, sophisticated emojis.

To add a custom meme or a sticker, click on the sticker image under the “type a new message” box.

Now that you know how to use reactions, emojis, GIFs, memes, and stickers in a chat, try them out in one of your less formal conversations in Teams!

 

Creative Ways to Boost Employee Morale While Working from Home

As we approach our 4th month in quarantine, much of the American workforce is still working from home. We wanted to share some easy ideas and accessible tools for boosting team morale and maintaining well-being while telecommuting. We hope these ideas give you some inspiration! For additional resources on managing a remote team, check out our free guidebook, Pivoting your Business to a Remote Work from Home Strategy during COVID-19.

Open up the Conversation

Everyone keeps talking about “the new normal.” What does the new normal look like in your organization? Now that you and your team have several months of experience in this arena, it is a great time to have a check-in meeting. It’s a good time to ask, “How are you?… How are you really?” Ask your team for their experience and insight on the unique challenges of working from home. This communicates that you care about them and can also uncover new innovations that you can apply. It may also be a chance for the team to bond and laugh over the challenges of too much “family time,” challenging pets as coworkers, and methods for managing virtual meeting fatigue. 

Now may also be a good time to update your organization’s remote work policies. Be sure to gather team insights on:

  • Accountability
  • Availability
  • Productivity
  • Security
  • Business Processes

Celebrating birthdays to boost morale during COVID-19

Do a Company Culture Check-In

The biggest fear that organization leaders have when teams transition to remote work is that company culture will suffer. How is your company culture holding up? 

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are 3 kinds of distance in remote collaboration: physical (place and time), operational (team size, bandwidth, and skill levels), and affinity (values, trust, and interdependency). The key to maintaining company culture is reducing the affinity distance.

Some ideas to get started:

  • Get face-to-face: Rather than email, text message, or voice calls, use video calls as much as possible. This will help you and your team build upon and maintain existing rapport.
  • You can never be too clear: Don’t assume that others understand your cues and shorthand. Spend the time to communicate with the intention of being ultra-clear, no matter the medium.
  • Create digital rituals: It is still important to “get together,” even if it’s a video chat, to bask in wins and successes, share a bit about team members’ lives outside of work, and celebrate important events.

Laugh Together

The health benefits of laughter are widely recognized and well-known. The Mayo Clinic tells us that laughter can enhance your intake of oxygen-rich air, increase endorphins in the brain, release dopamine, activate and relieve your stress response, and soothe tension. 

Want to incorporate a little more humor into your management style but comedy is not your thing? Don’t worry. Research shows that, of all the things people laugh at, 80% is not really that funny. To maximize the effect, be sure to include the whole group because according to a University of Maryland study, we are 30x more likely to laugh with other people than when we are alone. 

Try to allow a little time in all of your virtual meetings and interactions for some humor to lighten the mood. Schedule it in, whenever possible. 

Users of Microsoft Teams can bring creative energy and sense of humor to group chats and one-on-one messages with emojis, GIFs and stickers for every occasion. These extras help to establish the tone and friendly intent in the absence of body language, facial expression, and the other benefits of in-person communication.

Keep Your Technology Running Smoothly

We hope that you now have some new ideas for boosting employee morale while working from home. Are you looking for more support with your information technology? We help our customers attain high productivity levels for their teams, improve data security, implement reliable solutions that can scale, all while keeping costs under control.

Our approach to delivering the best possible IT service is centered on you.  For a free consultation and technology assessment, please contact us today.

We know what it’s like to run a business and we know your time is valuable. We can:

  • learn about your business
  • give you some ideas on what improvements you can make right away
  • provide free advice on your approach to IT and remote work solutions

And if you’d like, we can show you where and how we can help.  Call (303)-410-2845 or email us at info@xlingshot.com.

6 IT Projects to Tackle While Quarantined at Home

It’s spring cleaning time and since you’re sheltering in place, there is no better time than now to get your digital house in order. We have come up with 6 easy at-home IT Projects that will increase your security, organization, and quality of life.

1. Update WiFi Passwords

Updating Your Passwords - Xlingshot

You’ve got your home WiFi all set up.  You’ve connected your Alexa, your Nest thermostat, and your Ring doorbell and everything works great. Then your lazy brother-in-law comes and crashes on your couch and mooches off your Internet.  He’s got your home WiFi password and passes it on to all of his friends.  Now they’re on your network, playing online poker and emailing Nigerian princes, and they have access to all of your devices and home.  

Changing your passwords is probably the easiest way to keep your network protected. 

Maybe this isn’t your exact situation, per se, but it’s still a good idea to practice WiFi security and change your home WiFi network password, every once in a while. The first time you do this it will be pretty annoying. Changing your password will break the wifi for your Alexa, TVs, Gaming Systems, and other home devices. To avoid this hassle in the future, set up a second network just for devices. Alternatively, you can create a guest network where the password can be changed frequently.

Maybe you’re not worried about security, but what about bandwidth? By updating your WiFi password, you can ditch web squatters whose Tiger King binges are slowing down your connection. You can also reward your kids with the wifi password when they finish special COVID-19 chores.

Not sure where to start? Here’s the step-by-step process with pictures.

2. Organize Your Digital Files and Photo Library

Decluttering you office - Xlingshot

How long have you been thinking about organizing your thousands of photos and other digital files? What happens if your accounts are hacked, your phone falls in the toilet, or some other disaster happens that could wipe out your digital files? 

Now is a great time to start organizing and protecting your files, but the task may still seem daunting. Fear not, you can start your digital file organization from the couch with the photo gallery apps on your phone. For iPhone users, the Photos app has lots of options for organizing and finding your photos. Android users have similar options for managing digital photos

Once you’ve dipped a toe in the water, you may want to get fancy. There are lots of free and paid apps that can help you manage your photos and digital files. 

What is the best practice for digital organization? Who better to turn to than librarians? The Public Library Association recommends the following process for personal archiving:

  1. Identify the files
  2. Decide which files are important
  3. Organize the files
  4. Make copies and store them in different places 

Once you get started with a digital file organization, your momentum will snowball. Eventually, proper file organization, consistent naming conventions, tagging, labeling, and file backup will become easy habits that you don’t even have to think about.

3. Clear out old cables and obsolete devices

Clear out old cables and obsolete devices - Xlingshot

Everyone has that tangle of cords, cables and chargers for devices that they haven’t seen in years and probably don’t even own anymore. When it comes to the wire rat nest, there are two schools of thought. You have your boy scouts and girl scouts who think, “I’ll need one of these some day.” And you have your ostriches, who put their heads in the sand, reasoning “If I don’t think about them they’ll go away.” 

Whether you’re a scout or an ostrich, you’ll be glad when you have sorted and organized the mess. If you’re an advanced Eagle Scout, you may have already sorted your collection, so now is a good time to cull through and remove the VGA cables, Apple 30 pin chargers, and other obsolete accessories. 

Not sure where to start? Here is a quick keep/recycle list, for easy reference:

The Probably-Want-to-Keep List:

  • 2-prong and 3-prong power cords
  • 3.5 mm auxiliary
  • SATA cables
  • mini-USB
  • micro-USB
  • USB 3 Micro-B
  • Thunderbolt Port
  • Display Port

The “Probably-Safe-to-Recycle” List:

  • Coaxial Cable
  • S-Video
  • RCA/Composite
  • VGA
  • DVI (Digital Virtual Interface)
  • Apple 30 pin charger

If you need help identifying what’s what, check out this exhaustive guide of computer cables or this simple visual guide to computer cables and connectors

Once you have identified what you’re going to recycle, there are lots of places where you can donate or drop off your stuff. Colorado.gov has listed some of your local options here.

4. Clean that keyboard

Cleaning your keyword - Xlingshot

Not to gross you out or anything, but, your keyboard may have 400x more bacteria than a toilet seat. Here are 4 easy steps to clean your keyboard, you can do this for your mouse too!

  1. Shut down and unplug your computer.
  2. Gently shake your keyboard out while it is upside down to empty out crumbs and other debris. You can use a can of compressed air for this, as well. 
  3. Using a damp (not wet) Q-tip, clean in-between the keys. You can use isopropyl alcohol for this.
  4. Dampen a lint-free cloth with your favorite all-purpose cleaner or a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water for the final wipe-down.

5. Unsubscribe from SPAM

Reduce Your Spam - Xlingshot

Spam. We all get it. We all hate it. Yet – oddly – the tendency is to ignore the spam rather than dealing with it. Give yourself the gift of a manageable inbox and take some time to click unsubscribe.

The CAN-SPAM Act requires that senders of commercial emails “must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt-out of getting an email from you in the future” 

Be aware, however, that some Unsubscribe links at shady companies will use your “unsubscribe” response to simply confirm that you’re a real person. In cases such as these, you might be better off using a spam filter to block the content rather than confirming that you’re getting their emails by clicking Unsubscribe.

6. Simplify your social media

Simplify Your Social Media - Xlingshot

Social media has opened up a lot of conversations and opportunities, not to mention a wealth of funny memes and videos of animals being adorable. On the flip side, as we all know, social media can leave you feeling worse than before you logged in. 

Why not take some time to curate your social media experience? Unfollow companies, groups, and people that create stress, chaos and white noise in your life. Once the mess is cleared away, the cream will rise to the top. Here’s a to-do list to get you started on your journey to a better social media experience:

  1. List all of your social media accounts- LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  2. Identify your goals for each channel. Are you trying to make business contacts? Are you wanting to stay in touch with friends? Do you want to find recipes and laugh at silly videos? Are you following industry news and trends? Each channel offers differing possibilities and if you are approaching all social media with the same goals for each, you’re doing it wrong. 
  3. Weed out the connections, groups, subscriptions, follows, and likes that do not specifically serve the goals for that channel. (Alternatively, follow the KonMari trend and ask yourself, “does this spark joy?” If the answer is no, you must unfollow!)
  4. Consider setting daily social media time limits for yourself.

 

None of these projects are that challenging, it’s just finding the time to do it. Since we all have more free time on our hands due to sheltering in place, now is a great time to start. Choose the project you like most and see where the momentum takes you. Even a little progress can make a big difference.

Whether you take a stab at these projects or not, we would love to hear what you think! 

 

How to Identify a Phishing Email and What to Do about It

How to Identify a Phishing Email and What to Do about it

Security threats are everywhere. They come in all different sizes and shapes. The most common are viruses and trojans which can be accessed via email to anyone that doesn’t know what to look for to protect against a potential attack. In this article, you’ll learn three of the most common phishing techniques and how to not fall into their trap.

Deceptive Phishing

Deceptive Phishing is the most common technique hackers use to collect your information. Fraudsters copy legitimate companies like Paypal and American Express to fool users into entering their information for their monetary gain.

Phising Techniques - Xlingshot

Steps to avoid Deceptive Phishing

  1. Review the source of the email. If the email address doesn’t match the company URL (anyemail@paypal.com), you should be cautious when opening the email.
  2. Keep an eye out for bad grammar. Poor grammar is a sign of a phishing email due to the fact that big companies like Paypal hire professional writers to compose email marketing and have a quality check process in place.
  3. Review the opening line. Is your name missing from the email? Fraudsters are known to send mass emails leaving out your name. Instead, you’ll see “Hi” or Hello” with no name following the greeting.
  4. Timing is key when identifying a phishing email. When one appears in your inbox, ask yourself,” Did I sign up for Paypal?”. If the answer is no, be on the defensive and do not open the email. The Phisher’s objective is to lure you in by clicking on a button within the email. You’re prompted to fill out personal information including name, address, credit card number, and other personal information.

Spear Phishing

Spear Phishing is quite different in that it’s more personal compared to Deceptive Phishing. Social media is the medium of choice for Spear Phishing scammers. Fraudsters customize their phishing emails with the target person’s name, position, company, phone number, and other information in an effort to make to connection and transition the communication off the social media platform.

The objective is the same as Deceptive Phishing. Lure the victim into clicking on a given link or form to gain access to their information.

How to avoid Spear Phishing

Training your staff to identify a Spear Phishing message is key to protecting your companies valuable information. Security awareness training helps employees learn these different techniques hackers use to steal company data. Companies should also invest in data security measures help protect them against malicious emails and attachments.

Pharming

Pharming is another scam that is more complex than the other two covered in this article. It ’s where a fraudster installs a piece of malicious code on a personal computer or server. The malicious code redirects any clicks you make on the website to another fraudulent website with your knowledge or permission.

How to Avoid Pharming

Protecting yourself against Pharming is not as complex as Pharming itself. Be sure to log in to websites only using HTTPS. A properly installed SSL certificate helps to secure your data as you log in to a given website. Companies should also implement anti-virus software on corporate devices that employees use on a regular basis.

Hackers and fraudsters are using more complex measures to steal information about your company on a daily basis. Phishing attempts are going to happen and it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest security measures and education to prevent a data breach.