Creating Org-wide Team to Communicate with Everyone in Small Organizations
In the latest update distributed to Microsoft 365 tenants, Microsoft includes the ability to create org-wide teams, but only if your tenant has fewer than 10,000 user accounts (see below). If your tenant is under the threshold, you can create up to five org-wide teams.
An org-wide team is designed to facilitate tenant-wide communications for small to medium companies without the need for an administrator or team owner to manually add all the employees to the team membership, including the need to check for new employees and add them periodically. As we explain in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook, the process of creating a team and populating its membership with PowerShell is not difficult, but some work needs to be done to maintain the membership afterwards.
To create an org-wide team, choose Join or create a team as usual, opt to create a team from scratch, and then choose org-wide from the type of teams available (Figure 1). The choice only appears to global tenant administrators.
When you create an org-wide team, Teams adds all the global admins as team owners. It then adds all “active users” as members. The theory is that accounts that don’t have Office 365 or Teams licenses are excluded, as are guest users, and in the past it was certainly true that some odd accounts turned up in org-wide teams, including:
- Shared mailboxes.
- Room and resource mailboxes.
- Service accounts (if they have an Microsoft 365 license).
- Mailboxes used for purposes such as DLP incident reports. These accounts might be licensed, but they shouldn’t really feature in a team.
- Accounts that have a suitable license (like Office 365 E3) but the Teams option is disabled.
Although Microsoft has now fixed the underlying bugs which caused these accounts to be included in org-wide teams, it is still good practice to check the membership after the team is created and remove any account that doesn’t belong. And like for any team with a large membership, consider updating team settings to stop members posting in the General channel, adding channels, or even using @team mentions (because they generate notifications for everyone in the team).
Org-wide teams are indicated by the presence of the Org-wide tag. In addition, as you can see in Figure 2, the Manage team option displays a banner to inform users that the membership of the team is automatically adjusted in line with changes made to Azure Active Directory.
On an ongoing basis, employees leave and join the company and people lose or gain Teams licenses. When someone leaves the company and their Azure AD account is removed, their membership of the team is also removed. To handle new joiners and people who gain or lose Teams licenses, a background process scans the accounts in the tenant periodically (expect weekly) and adds or removes the user as required. Unlike normal teams, members can’t choose to leave an org-wide team.
But I Already Have an Org-Wide Team
If you already created and use an all-employees team without benefit of Microsoft’s new feature, a tenant administrator can convert the team into an org-wide team and gain benefit of the automatic membership management. To do this, select the team you want to convert and then use the Edit team feature to change the privacy setting to org-wide. When you save the setting, Teams updates the membership with all valid accounts. Any users not included in the automatic membership remain in place, including guest users. You can also change an org-wide team to be a private or public team using the same approach, and in this case, the existing membership stays in place but the automatic background refresh of membership is disabled.
Alternatives to Creating Org-Wide Teams
Larger tenants who have more accounts than the maximum limit for org-wide team membership can consider:
- Using dynamic Teams to support discussions for different parts of the organization. For example, you might have a team for each department or each country. Dynamic teams are based on dynamic Microsoft 365 groups.
- Using Yammer for company-wide communications and collaboration. Yammer can easily scale up to handle very large organizations with hundreds of thousands of users.
Remember, a regular team can support up to 25,000 members, so you can always use PowerShell to generate and manage a regular team which effectively serves as an org-wide team.
P.S. The formal documentation for org-wide teams is online. But the book tells you what really happens…
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