How to Create and Manage Org-Wide Teams in Microsoft Teams

A Team for Everyone

In the latest update distributed to Office 365 tenants, Microsoft includes the ability to create an org-wide team, but only if your tenant has fewer than 5,000 accounts (see below). If your tenant is under the threshold, you can create up to five org-wide teams.

Editor’s Note: Microsoft increased the original threshold from 1,000 accounts to 5,000 in May 2019. In December 2020, Microsoft plans to increase the limit to 10,000. According to Office 365 notification MC224732. The new limit should be available worldwide by the end of January 2021.

Company-wide Communications

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.

Creating a new org-wide team
Figure 1: Creating a new org-wide team

Automatically-Generated Membership

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 Office 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 an Office 365 license 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.

Membership of an org-wide team
Figure 2: Membership of an org-wide team

On an ongoing basis, employees leave and join the company and people lose or gain Teams licenses. When someone leaves the company and their Office 365 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

Larger tenants who have more accounts than the 1,000 limit 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 team can support up to 10,000 members, so you can always use PowerShell to generate and manage an org-wide team,

P.S. The formal documentation for org-wide teams is online. But the book tells you what really happens…


We have over 200 pages of content about Teams in the Office 365 for IT Pros ebook. Shouldn’t you be staying updated with developments about Teams and the rest of Office 365? Subscribe today!

6 Replies to “How to Create and Manage Org-Wide Teams in Microsoft Teams”

    1. Of course. See https://office365foritpros.com/faq/ for information about how to get the latest version of the files from your Gumroad account. The information in this post will be included in the October 19 update along with all the other snippets, insights, and new information that we’ve learned about Office 365 since the September 20 update.

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