Microsoft Teams: How to Structure Teams and Channels

Teams lets you set up permanent groups so that your teams, departments or areas know where to go to share news and updates that everyone would find useful, as well as storing your shared files and documents. You can also make one to one or group phone and video calls from wherever you are, there’s even an option to share your screen with the team!

Groups, commonly known as Channels, can be open to everyone in the company or private, and by default can be created by anyone! In order to avoid confusion or sharing documents with the wrong people, you need to carefully consider how to set up your teams.

You should list your own teams and answer the following questions for each one:

  1. Is any of this information sensitive or restricted?
    • If yes, this should be private.
    • If no, this can be a public team (note: public teams are only visible to your company, they are not actually visible to the public)
  2. Who needs to be in this team?
  3. It is a good idea to have an ‘all company’ public team for announcements?
  4. Who is best to ‘own’ this team and look after who is a member?
  5. Are there any projects, or smaller groups related to that team? Rather than creating a whole new team, these can be added to existing Teams as ‘channels’ which share the same access and members. Every team starts with General by default.

 

Teams channel chart example

With this information to hand, you will be able to set up a sensible Team structure with spaces for sensitive information or chat, and also open areas to help share information between all team members.

You can create a Team by:

  1. To create a Team click the Teams icon in the left navigation bar and then click Join or create team > Create a new team.

 

a picture showing where "Join or create a team" is located

(If you don’t see the Create a new team option, you may not have the necessary permissions to create your own teams. Please check with your IT administrator if this is the case)

  1. Then choose Staff.

 

picture showing the options you will see when you select "create new team". You will have the options of "Class" "Professional Learning Community" "Staff" or "Other"

  1. Choose a name for your team (this could be related to your department sector e.g. Service). And add an optional description. Click next to create your team.

 

Picture describing what "create your team" will look.

Add members to your team

  1. As the team owner, you’ll be able to add members to your team. Select the team name in the teams list and click More options More options button > Add member.

 

Picture describing where to find "Add member"

  1. Then, start typing a name, or Office 365 group to add to your team. You can also add people outside your organisation as guests by typing their email addresses.
  2. When you’re finished adding your members, select Add! At this point, you could also take the opportunity to make someone a team owner by selecting the down arrow next to the word Member. There can be multiple owners in a team. For a better understanding of roles and permissions, see Team owner and member capabilities in Teams.
  3. To add your team members, select Close. Those you’ve added will receive an email to let them know they are now a member of your team and the team will show up in their teams list.

Create channels

Teams is made up of channels, each channel is dedicated to a specific topic, department, or project. It’s where you have conversations with your teammates, share files etc.

By default, all members of a team can create channels. A standard channel is open for all members and anything posted is searchable by others. If you need a smaller audience for a specific project, you can create a private channel for your team. For a deeper look, see Teams can have standard or private channels.

To create or edit a channel, follow the steps below:

Create a standard channel

To create a standard channel, start in the team list. Find the team name and click More options More options button > Add channel. You can also click Manage team, and add a channel in the Channels tab.

 

Picture describing where to find "Add channel"

Create a private channel

If you want a focused place to discuss sensitive information such as budgets, resourcing, strategic positioning and so on, create a private channel for your team. Only owners or members of the private channel can access it.

To create a private channel for a team:

  1. Go to the team you want to create the private channel for and choose More options  More options button > Add channel.
  2. Enter a name and description for your channel.
  3. Under Privacy, select the down arrow on the right, and then select Private – Accessible only to a specific group of people within the team.
  4. Select Add. This adds a private channel to the team.

 

Picture showing what a private channel looks like

Add members to a private channel

As a private channel owner, you can add or remove members, and edit private channel settings. Each person that you add must first be a member of the team.

To add members of your team to a private channel:

    1. Next to the private channel name, select More options More options button > Add members
    2. Use the Members and Settings tabs to add or remove members and assign roles. Your private channel can have multiple owners and up to 250 members.
    3. When you’re ready, select Done. Members can now post messages on the private channel.

Things to consider:

Teams is designed to be flexible. You can easily add new teams and channels if you find that things do not fit into the existing structure.

If you decide to remove a team make sure that any files have been moved to another location first, or they will be deleted.

By default, files can be shared with guests. This can be disabled or restricted across the organisation by your IT Administrator.

There are lots of features built into teams that can be added on as needed, for example, notebooks, wikis, todo lists and Kanban boards.

Need some help?

If you don’t have an Office 365 subscription, there is a free version of Teams available for up to 300 users. Alternatively, in response to the increased need for employees to work from home, Microsoft has released a free 6-month trial of Teams that lets an IT Admin roll out the application to users. However, if you already have Office 365 Business Premium or Enterprise E3, then it comes packed with even more features. If you’re interested in trialling a free Microsoft 365 license, get in touch!

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Lily Howell

20 March 2020

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