I’ve recently written about some of the good and bad points of working with Office 365 Teams, and guess what I have more news.
Since the launch of Teams, it has worked on the basis that anyone who is a member of a Team can see any channels, chat, files etc within it. Hence my comment there is no “I” in team, as there has never been a means to squirrel information away from other team members.
However, this has all changed this week with the launch of new privacy settings in Team Channels. Now a channel has the ability to be standard, which is the traditional option or be private. If a channel is private, the Team Owner can set specific membership options, which are not connected to the team level.
Although there are some limitations with private channels, which I will look through shortly, I thought it best to start with a couple of examples of where a private channel could be of use and where it probably isn’t needed.
The first is that you already have a team set up with say 6 members in it. A particular topic of conversation comes into play, but only 3 of the 6 need to see this (at least for the time being). There is only 1 topic of conversation going to take place so setting up an additional team for this could lead to documents getting lost and extra confusion, so creating a Private Channel, and inviting just the 3 is a good use of private channels.
The second example is that a new project is being discussed which is extremely confidential and involves a number of senior managers from different parts of the business, who do not usually work together. There are many teams already being used across the organisation, but not one that has all of the members required. In this situation it would be best to create a new Team with all of the members and then create individual channels to manage the specific elements of the project. Depending on the confidentiality of the topics, these could be made either as standard, or private if it is felt necessary.
So having the ability to create private areas, could reduce the need for additional Teams, which could in turn help reduce complexity and the risk of missing conversation or documents within the platform.
Microsoft are reporting that there are a couple of features which are not available in a private channel at the moment. These include Stream, Planner and Forms. However, at the time of writing this blog I linked an existing Stream, which Green Shoots Learning uses, into my new private channel which worked exactly as expected. So if your business does use Stream it is worth testing this in your own environment.
A couple of facts and figures for you;
A Team can have a maximum of 30 private channels in additional to the 200 usual channels. So a maximum of 230 channels in any one team.
Any records for messages sent in a private channel will be delivered to the individual members mailbox rather than the group channel.
OneNote permissions will not be updated as per the private channel settings. There may still be some people who are not members who can see a OneNote notebook and not everyone in the private channel will have the OneNote notebook by default.
A private channel will have its own SharePoint site collection running behind it, which will reflect the permissions in the private channel.
The limit of site collections per channel has been increased from 500,000 to 2,000,000
So all in all I think the arrival of private channels, is good news. It should help us keep our team structure as simple as possible, as we can use existing teams rather than creating yet more. However, I do think that some guidance to employees or some control over who can and cannot create private channels should be considered. As in a world where team and collaborative working is increasing, for all the right reasons, it would be unwise for organisations to encourage employees to exclude colleagues unless there really is a good reason for it.
For more information on how your business can move to Teams, please contact us on 0333 344 4031 to book a free no obligation meeting.