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New Setting Available to Meeting Organizers
Office 365 notification MC233466 published on January 9 confirms another tweak to lobby control for Teams meeting participants. As you know, the lobby is where people wait until their attendance is confirmed and they are admitted to a Teams meeting. Recent changes include updates to force external participants to wait in the lobby and to allow meeting organizers to restrict the people who can join automatically to just them.
A new option in meeting settings (Microsoft roadmap item 68730) introduces another filter for automatic joining. Meeting organizers can now choose to limit automatic join to people explicitly invited to the meeting. In other words, people who appear as invitees in the invitation issued for the meeting. Anyone not in that list, such as people who might learn about the meeting by receiving a forwarded invitation, must wait in the lobby.
Updated March 30: Microsoft says that the update will roll-out to both commercial and GCC tenants in late April and be complete by mid-May.
General Lobby Control
The automatically admit people setting in the Teams meeting policy assigned to the organizer controls the default lobby admittance setting for meetings (Figure 1). In other words, unless an organizer does something to update the meeting, the setting in the meeting policy assigned to their account is used.
Meeting policies are often configured to use People in my organization and guests as the default for automatic joining to allow tenant users (including guests in the tenant directory) to enter meetings without interruption. With this setting, federated users (people who can sign into another Office 365 tenant) and anonymous users wait in the lobby until approved to join by the meeting organizer or a presenter.
Organizer Control Over the Meeting Lobby
Organizers can allow some or all participants to bypass the lobby for individual meetings by updating the settings for the meeting though the Teams calendar app or the Teams meeting add-in for Outlook, including the add-on for Google calendar. Figure 2 shows the People I Invite lobby bypass setting being chosen for a meeting. The new lobby bypass setting can be applied to meetings scheduled before the update becomes available in a tenant.
The reminder to turn off the ability to allow participants to forward the meeting invite is good advice. This prevents people who receive a forwarded invitation being frustrated if the organizer removes them from the meeting because they are not on the original invitee list. To turn off forwarding, go to Response options for the meeting and uncheck Allow forwarding.
Note: The Teams mobile app also supports the ability to update meeting options.
Using the People I Invite Lobby Option
When a meeting with the People I Invite lobby bypass option is active, any authenticated user with an email address in the invitee list can join the meeting without having to wait in the lobby. If invitees use a different email address or can’t authenticate with the address in the meeting invitation, they will be forced to wait in the lobby.
Exerting More Precise Control Over the Lobby
Lobby bypass settings like Only me and People I Invite support confidential meetings where organizers need to assure that only specific individuals gain access to the content shared in the meeting. Only me, where just the meeting organizer bypasses the lobby, is the most stringent setting. People Invite is a step up.
The value of using restricted lobby bypass is that it stops casual joiners or people who receive a forwarded copy of the meeting invitation having the opportunity to join undetected when policies allow general admittance to meetings. For instance, if Kim and Marc arrange a private meeting and Tony gets access to the link to the meeting, Tony can join the meeting without any checking if the meeting policy allows anyone in the organization to bypass the lobby.
Forcing those who aren’t directly invited to wait in the lobby for verification before admittance gives the organizer the chance to decide if they want to allow or deny entrance. Introducing the ability to grant automatic joining to an invited list is a good tweak that will be popular with many Teams users.
Tenant administrators might think that they don’t need to understand how lobby controls work. That theory holds until someone joins a confidential meeting when they shouldn’t. That’s why it’s important to look past the gloss and into the detail, which is what we do in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.