Microsoft Teams guest access – #1 requested Teams feature
Microsoft Teams guest access is the most read post on the Microsoft tech community forum. It has 56.5k views but we don’t seem to be much closer to a resolution.
There is no doubt that Microsoft Teams is one of the market-leading tools, with a whole host of functionality. Productivity is at an all-time high. Enterprises adopting Microsoft Teams are left wondering how they ever survived before.
BUT… this is a feature everyone is really crying out for.
And as IT Managers indicated in our Workplace Messaging Report, Microsoft Teams is the top of the agenda for 56% of organizations .
Microsoft Teams guest access
As a partner, consultant or customer of a business that uses Microsoft Teams, you can be added as a guest to let you access files, chats and information from the external company. Keeping connected to external businesses is crucial to communication and collaboration.
Guest access is great and is absolutely required. If you’re new to guest access within Microsoft Teams, it’s easy to enable. But, I think the experience needs some work. Let’s walk through the current external messaging process.
- Notification received on Microsoft Teams for a one to one chat, group message or channel activity
- Select the account that you have guest access to
- Microsoft Teams will now switch you to your guest access in another Microsoft tenant, going through the process of logging in from scratch
- Respond to notifications as usual
- Flick back to your “main” account which is probably the company you work for
- Microsoft Teams switches you back to your main account, going through the process of logging in from scratch
Federation vs Microsoft Teams guest access
In Skype for Business, you could turn on the federation option. This allowed users to add external Skype for Business contacts in other companies, as well as standard Skype users.
This experience was perfect for users that had contacts that were customers, suppliers or any other form of external party. From your Skype for Business interface, you have access to your internal contacts, external contacts and could group according to your personal preference or most frequently messaged contacts.
In Microsoft Teams, the experience differs due to the team collaboration environment. Federation does not currently exist natively for one to one messaging. Microsoft’s official stance on federation within Microsoft Teams is highlighted here:
“In order to currently federate within the Microsoft Teams client to an external user outside of your organization who’s not currently a Guest of your AAD/Tenant, you must be correctly setup for hybrid and moved to Skype for Business Online. As of 2/25/2019, Teams doesn’t yet support native federation without the user of the SIP profile being homed in Skype for Business Online. “
Guest access in Slack and Webex
Cisco Webex Teams also offers guest access for external users. When it comes to switching between Webex Teams tenants, Lorrisa Horton made a comment in the Cisco blog regarding the experience.
“We’ve built the solution in a way that surfaces all your spaces within a single interface. It’s simple to get anyone into your Webex Teams spaces. And unlike other tools, you don’t have to navigate separate organization accounts or switch between tabs.”
In Slack, you can add external users to either single-channel access or multi-channel access, stipulating which channels they have access to. For this functionality to be enabled, you need to be paying for the standard Slack subscription. Slack guest access is restricted, details are laid out on the Slack help area.
Community feeling around Microsoft Teams guest access
There have been various grumbles about switching between Microsoft Teams tenants in the Microsoft community. Darrell-as-a-Service commented on the lack of simplicity in guest mode in his blog post Tenant switching between accounts ain’t fun:
“I find myself wondering when people will read and respond to my message.”
Darrell’s suggestion echoes most of the Microsoft community. “We want to log into our tenant and concurrently be connected to the teams where we are guests.”
Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business expert, Tom Arbuthnot, suggested that, by now, we really should be able to be in multiple Teams accounts at the same time, without switching between Microsoft Teams accounts.
“I work with a lot of customers, so am guests on their tenants. I cheat and run a chrome web app for each of the guest tenants, so I can be signed into multiple tenants at the same time. At a minimum “switching” should be fast (the iOS client handles this very well) but ideally I want all the teams I’m a member of from various tenants to be visible in Teams at the same time.”
Unknown users in Microsoft Teams
Zev Yanovich also recently reported an issue when adding new external members to a team. Email addresses are being converted to “Unknown”.
Another Teams forum member, Christine Stack posted in reply that she is having a similar issue:
“If I go to Outlook to add them to the Office 365 group they show that they are added in with their correct names. I also used the Teams & Skype admin center to check to on them but they are not listed there as users, neither is my gmail account which is functioning as a guest in Teams but my Hotmail account is listed there as a guest Teams user.”
Since posting, Christine has confirmed that her issue has been remedied, but wasn’t entirely sure what the solution was.
Most heavily requested Teams feature
The Microsoft tech community forum has been asking for this since 2016. Whilst Microsoft Teams is set to have feature parity with Skype for Business, the heavy guest users are left feeling unproductive. Microsoft’s comment on this subject back in August was:
“This is still on the backlog. It is taking a fair amount of investigation to determine the best solution to the request”.
The lack of clarity over guest access even sees the query of “Can I add guests to my team? If so, how?” make the top 10 Microsoft Teams questions during the Microsoft Ignite tour.
Aya Tange, Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, shares the top 10 and the answer to how to setup guest access on the Microsoft blog.
Update from Microsoft
Microsoft has now provided a guide to guest access. This demonstrates what you can and can’t do via Microsoft Teams guest mode.
Furthermore, Microsoft has also published a matrix comparing features between external access and guest access in Microsoft Teams.
As small businesses start to receive emails alerting them to an auto-upgrade from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, these guides will become more and more important to set expectations within your business.
Making the most of guest access
Guest access, whilst not perfect, solves the problem of messaging external contacts that have Microsoft Teams. But, you are still in the predicament of messaging colleagues and external users that use Slack and Webex Teams. This leaves you with X Microsoft Teams accounts. You then have however many Slack channels and Webex spaces still need to communicate with.
Rather than solving one problem but adding another app into your daily work schedule, there is a solution.
When you need to use more than just Microsoft Teams inside and outside your organization, Mio can provide messaging interoperability by connecting the platforms you use to communicate and collaborate.
Mio is simple to set up:
- Sync all chat apps your team’s users by creating your Mio Hub
- Add all teams, spaces & channels
- Team members in your Mio Hub can immediately chat in DMs or groups with members on other platforms
- File sharing, threaded messages, reactions and the ability to edit and delete messages are all supported
- New channels or spaces sync in the primary chat platform everyone prefers to use
We are here to discuss your options. To learn how Mio can sync multiple messaging platforms, check out our video.