Highlighting Channel Meetings
Office 365 Notification MC231108 posted on 21 December announces the introduction of the Teams channel calendar, a new first-party (Microsoft) app to highlight channel meetings. The idea is to make channel meetings more accessible to team members (Microsoft roadmap item 68911). Microsoft says that this adds a shared calendar to a channel. The calendar in question is the group calendar belonging to the team, which has always existed. Describing the feature in this manner is a little hyperbole. It’s more accurate to say that the new app enables easier access to channel events stored in the group calendar, but that’s not quite as nice in marketing terms.
According to MC231108, the channel calendar will roll out to commercial tenants in mid-January and to government tenants in early February. The app works for the Teams desktop and browser clients.
The Pain of Channel Meetings
Today, people schedule channel meetings through the Teams calendar app by adding the channel to a meeting. When this happens, the meeting details are created in the group calendar of the team which owns the channel instead of the meeting organizer’s personal calendar. However, the person who creates a channel meeting remains the organizer and retains the rights to modify the meeting details, such as adding invitees, updating the meeting information, or rescheduling or cancelling the meeting.
Posts announcing the creation of a channel meeting appear in the channel and any member of the team can join a channel meeting if they wish. However, a longstanding complaint about channel meetings is that users often miss the fact that these events are arranged. If people are used to Outlook, they expect to receive a notification about a meeting, and that doesn’t happen for channel meetings unless someone is explicitly invited to the meeting or the group settings are updated to publish notifications for calendar events to all members.
Channel Calendar App
The channel calendar allows team members to access channel meetings in a calendar grid, which looks like the Teams calendar app. The first thing to do is add the app to a tab in a channel, which then makes the calendar available to tenant members of the team. Because permissions aren’t available to control guest access to the group calendar, guest members can’t use the channel calendar app and don’t see the tab.
Meetings for all the channels in a team are kept in a single calendar folder in the group mailbox, so the app uses a filter to display only the meetings for the channel into which it is installed (Figure 1).
Apart from guests, any team member can schedule a channel meeting through the app. The process is like scheduling a meeting through the full Teams calendar app with the exception that the hosting channel is pre-populated. Individual attendees can be added. When a new channel meeting is scheduled, Teams posts a notice to the channel (Figure 2). Guest members can use the channel notification to join meetings after the event starts.
Changes and updates to channel meetings are not posted as replies to the topic , so team members do need to check the channel calendar (or be added as an individual attendee) to make sure that an event happens as originally planned.
Controlling the Channel Calendar App
By default, the channel calendar app is available to all users. Like any other app, administrators can block the channel calendar app if they wish. This doesn’t seem like a good idea.
Stay up to date with new developments in Teams and across the rest of Office 365 by subscribing to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. Monthly updates mean that you’re always working off accurate information.