Sunday, March 3, 2024

4 Slack features that Microsoft Teams desperately needs


oChances are that many of us have used both Slack and Microsoft Teams at some point, either for work or for school. And while the two services share a common goal of helping people stay connected, they have a fierce rivalry.

You may wonder why Teams lacks some of the features that Slack has. We’ve previously compared the two, but there’s still a need to look back at some areas where Teams should take a lesson from Slack.

Multi-account support

Teams launched in 2017, and since then Microsoft has steadily improved on the performance and feature set of the app. But one thing that has always been missing is multi-account support. This proves problematic if you’re working for multiple companies that use Teams. You’ll end up having to use a Progressive Web App version of Teams for chatting or calling one company, and the desktop app for another.

It’s not convenient, but Microsoft did indicate that multi-account support is coming in the second half of 2022. Slack, though, has had the feature for a while. In Slack, you can add and switch between multiple workspaces with ease. Just visit the menu for your existing workspace, then choose Add workspaces from the dropdown. You’ll then be taken to your web browser, where you can sign in with a code, and be redirected to the Slack app. A sidebar then shows up in the app, where you can switch between accounts with ease.

A single view for chats and your Teams

Slack makes it very easy to pay attention to both your channels, as well as your messages. In the user interface, the service allows you to see all of your private moments along with your public ones in a single sidebar at all times for more effective communication.

That’s different from Microsoft Teams, which treats companywide private and public channels as a “Team” and private chats as a “Chat.” During busy days, you’ll constantly have to switch between each tab in the app to respond to a public message and then a private one. In some cases, it also discourages public communication and makes Team channels a ghost town, interrupting collaboration.

It’s doubtful Microsoft will make such a massive change, but there is a space that could help. The Activity area could prove to be useful for a single view of both channels and chats. Right now, it just shows a list of your notifications, mentions, or replies. It’d be great if this could be used for a single view for your most-used Teams channels and chats.

Theme support

When you spend hours each day using Teams and Slack, you might be hoping that you can change up the app to look different from its default mode. In Teams, Microsoft gives you access to a dark mode or a light mode, just like Windows 10 and Windows 11. There’s also a high contrast mode for people with impaired vision. Slack is much better, though.

In Slack, you have a variety of theme options. Just click your profile icon and choose Preferences > Themes. You can create a custom theme, or choose one of Slack’s preset options. There are things like Eggplant, Hoth, Mondarin, Nocturne, and more. Themes change the sidebar look, as well as buttons and highlights on top of the submenus.

Apps and integrations

One of the great things about Microsoft Teams is its integrations with other Microsoft services like OneDrive or OneNote, or even new learning services like Microsoft Viva. Teams also connect with other apps and services through the Teams App Store. However, Slack has a lot more to offer. Slack has more than 2,400 apps, about twice as many as Teams’ 1,200 apps.

For example, Slack offers access to the communication app Loom, the HR & Team Culture app, Evergreen, and the productivity app Clockwise. These apps aren’t found in Teams. Key players, though, are available across both platforms, including Zoom, Asana, and even Trello, but it would be nice if more developers come on board with Teams, especially since Microsoft is making it easier to build Teams apps. Team’s Store is getting a new look, too.

Hope is on the horizon

For all the things that Teams lacks compared to Slack, there is hope that things can get better soon. Microsoft recently launched a preview of a new feedback portal for Teams. The portal is based on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Customer Service tool, and it makes it easy for people to submit feedback on features and view submitted ideas. If you ever feel like Teams is missing something, the feedback portal is where you’ll want to go. Get enough upvotes, and Microsoft might listen.

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