Everything you need to know about shared channels in Microsoft TeamsMicrosoft 365 Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is constantly evolving to meet the needs of users. The latest update introduces a new feature called shared channels, which allows users to easily collaborate with people inside and outside your team or organisation.
Here’s everything you need to know about shared channels in Microsoft Teams.
What are shared channels?
A shared channel is a special type of channel in Microsoft Teams that lets you manage membership on a channel-level. Unlike with a private channel, users don’t need to be members of the team; they can be added directly to the shared channel.
The key feature of shared channels is that it can be shared with other existing teams and all its members. Once a shared channel has been created and shared, it appears in multiple teams and is marked with a special icon. All conversations and files in a shared channel are visible and accessible, making it easy to keep everyone on the same page. Like private channels, shared channels are only visible to people invited to the channel.
How do I create a shared channel?
Only team owners or administrators can create shared channels.
The team where the channel was created becomes the host team and it can’t be changed. So, the first step is to decide which team will be the host.
To create a shared channel, click the ellipses (three dots) next to the selected host team name and select ‘Add channel’.
From there, you can give your channel a name and description.
Then, select ‘Shared’ from the ‘Privacy’ drop-down menu.
If you would like all members of the existing team to have access to the channel, tick the box below. Otherwise, you can choose later who to share the channel with.
How do I share a channel?
Only the creator of a shared channel becomes the owner of that channel and can manage its members. Click the ellipses (three dots) next to the channel name and select ‘Manage channel’. From here you have three options to share the channel.
1. Share with people – lets you add individual people to the channel. You can add people from your organisation as well as external users. People outside your organisation can participate in a shared channel without switching orgs if cross-tenant access is enabled in both tenancies.
NOTE: Guests can’t participate in a shared channel, only external participants (with enabled B2B Direct Connect) can participate in shared channels.
People invited directly to a shared channel will see the name of a host team in their list of teams and the shared channel. They will not see other channels in that team, including ‘General’.
2. Share with a team you own – lets you share the channel with another team where you are an owner.
NOTE: When you share a channel with a team, all members of that team get access to the shared channel. If you don’t want to share with all members, then share with people individually.
3. Share with a team – the process is a bit confusing, however this option lets you to share a channel with other teams where you are not an owner. There is a three-step approval process.
- You send a request to a team owner. Unfortunately, you can’t specify which team you would like to share the channel with, nor you can add a custom message to the request so it’s a good idea to contact that person directly and discuss your request.
- The selected owner will receive a notification and can choose which team they would like to add the channel to.
- You receive a confirmation with details about which team the owner added your channel to. You have an option to approve or reject their selection. Only after your approval will the channel be shared with the team.
What about the SharePoint side of things?
When a shared channel is created, a separate SharePoint team site is created for that channel. It has an icon indicating that it’s a shared channel site and provides a link to the parent team if a user has access.
On the host site users who have access to the channel see a folder with an icon indicating that it’s a shared channel. Team users and team owners not invited to a shared channel don’t see these folders in SharePoint.
What are the benefits of using shared channels?
The introduction of shared channels shifts the paradigm of collaboration in Microsoft Teams. Now we can create a web-like structure of interconnected teams rather than lots of individual independent teams that were covering edge case scenarios. As a result, we cut down clutter in Microsoft Teams and decrease governance overload.
Membership management capabilities of shared channels enables effective cross-functional collaboration that is easy to understand from an end-user perspective as well as seamless collaboration with external parties.
It’s relatively easy to manage permissions and it provides transparency for access permissions.
What are the challenges of using shared channels?
Since we can create more complex architecture with shared channels in Microsoft Teams, there are some aspects that require consideration to create a carefully curated environment.
Naming convention. Think about the name of shared channels carefully. Since it appears in multiple teams the channel name should be clear everywhere it’s shown. If you rename your channel, the new name will be displayed everywhere. You cannot rename a shared channel in only one team.
Ownership. Deciding who should be the owner and which site will be the host of the channel is an important step to enable scalability and ensure the architecture will work in a long term. This also helps minimise the effort of managing membership.
Sharing with another team. You need to know who the owners and members of other teams are to make sure information is shared with the right users. Think about the overall architecture and membership to avoid unnecessary duplication of channels.
External collaboration. To fully utilise the power of shared channels for external collaboration, Azure AD B2B direct connect should be enabled in both collaborating tenancies. For some companies this might be impossible due to their internal security policies.
Advanced features. Some features are not available in shared channels. For example, chat moderation, planner, bots, connections, tags and analytics.
If you’re looking for a way to improve communication, boost productivity and enable collaboration between people from different parts of your organisation or with people outside your organisation, consider using shared channels in Microsoft Teams.
Check out the overview of standard, private and shared channels in my previous blog article to learn more about the key features of each channel type and common use case scenarios to make a decision about which type is right for you.