Team or Channel: Which One to Pick in Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is one of the most popular collaboration and communication platforms globally, but as we’ve discovered from interactions with our clients, many users are confused about how to organise their teams and channels. 

Teams is intuitive to use and loaded with useful tools and key features, and organising your departments or projects into teams and channels will help your employees make the most of the available collaboration tools. Whether you’re an experienced Microsoft Teams user or just beginning your journey, join us as we explore the intricacies of teams and channels. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the key considerations to determine the most suitable collaboration solution for your employees to share information and have online meetings.

Team or Channel: Understanding the Basics

Let’s start by breaking down the lingo. In Microsoft Teams, a team is like a clubhouse where you gather your favourite people for a common purpose. It’s your dedicated workspace, whether you’re a department, or a project team. 

Now, channels are the cool hangout spots within your team, like the various rooms where you discuss different topics, share ideas… and maybe even post the odd funny video via direct messages.

Choosing Between Teams and Channels

Okay, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty and discover how you can make the perfect choice between teams and channels. 

  1. Scope of Collaboration

Think about the scale of your collaboration. Are you embarking on a massive project involving multiple working groups with grand visions and a boatload of tasks? If so, a team might be your go-to choice. Create a team for this project, then you can set up channels within this team to separate the subgroups working on components. It’s like a bustling city where everyone can come together under a team owner, share files using the Files tab, schedule meetings, and conquer the world (or at least your project)! 

  1. Communication Focus

If your collaboration revolves around specific topics, projects, or passions, using a channel might just be your jam. They allow you to create spaces tailored to particular themes, where you and your teammates can dive deep into discussions in channel conversations, engage in document sharing using the Files tab, and bask in the glory of your shared interests. This is a great feature of Teams – it’s like having a little coffee shop corner dedicated to your favourite topics.

  1. Access and Permissions

In a team, it’s all about inclusivity. You open the doors wide and invite the entire team, including guest access, to the party. But channels? They offer a bit more control. You can choose who gets access with channel permissions, making sure the channel owner can invite team members, including guest users, to join the club. And that means you can keep your channel private, on a need-to-know basis.

A screenshot of the dropdown menu off a team within Teams, with the 'Add channel' option highlighted yellow.,
A screenshot of the Channel creation window where you are asked to put details in
  1. Content Organisation

How do you want to organise your collaboration environment? Teams are like neat filing cabinets, allowing you to create multiple standard channels within them, including shared channels. It’s perfect when you have different sub-teams or sub-projects within a larger endeavour. But using channels lets you organise discussions and content around specific themes, making it easier to find what you need amidst the joyful mess. 

  1. Team Size and Complexity

Let’s talk about the size and complexity of your team. If you’re a small group within a larger team – for example, you’re the Social Media branch of the Marketing department, you can establish a channel for your straightforward communication needs. They provide just enough space for your discussions without overwhelming your teammates, and having separate channels can help you keep things even more organised. And you can have different channel names to further differentiate who is talking about what, and where – adjust this in your channel settings. 

But if you’re part of a larger team with various working groups, sub-teams or sub-projects, a team is your perfect situation. It helps team owners and users maintain efficient communication and collaboration through threaded conversations and meeting chats within the chaos of Office 365. It’s easy to flag upcoming meetings and share meeting notes so that everyone is on the same page. 

Here at Propelle we have created a team for the entire organisation and a team for each department, such as Marketing and Finance. Within the teams there are channels that organise the right people into working groups. For example, the Marketing team has a Website channel and a Social Media channel. We have also created a team with each client we work with, and various projects for those clients are set up as channels. There are many ways to get organised in Teams, it’s about finding the right fit for your needs.

Need Some Help Choosing the Best Teams Environment?

There you have it! Whether you choose an entire team site, or break it up into channels, Microsoft Teams is your trusty sidekick in the quest for seamless collaboration and extraordinary teamwork. If you want a deeper dive into the Microsoft or Office 365 suite, or other third-party apps, Propelle is here to help. We love helping our clients find the right real time collaboration platform for their organisation, ensuring that file sharing and messaging apps are always right as your fingertips.

FAQs About Choosing Between Teams and Channels in Microsoft Teams

Can I convert a channel into a team or vice versa? 

Oh, wouldn’t that be neat? Each have their own powerful features, but unfortunately, Microsoft Teams doesn’t grant us that superpower. Teams and channels serve different purposes, like Batman and Superman. If your collaboration requirements drastically change, you’ll need to create a new team or channel to fit the bill. 

What are teams and channels? 

Standard channels and shared channels are the backbone of your collaboration, serving as the main spaces where your entire team, including guest users, gathers to share ideas, collaborate on files using the Files tab, and schedule video meetings with screen sharing capabilities. Team owners play a crucial role in managing access and permissions, ensuring smooth collaboration within the platform. 

Can I have multiple teams and channels within a single project? 

Absolutely! Microsoft Teams loves a good collaboration party. You can create multiple teams and channels within a single project, making it a virtual fiesta of teamwork and productivity. This is handy for ongoing projects that may evolve and require different collaboration spaces over time. The more, the merrier! 

Can I invite external users to a team or a channel? 

Yes, you can! Microsoft Teams believes in expanding the collaboration circle. You can invite external users, like clients or partners to join your team or channel. Just remember to keep sensitive information secure and make them feel welcome in your collaboration environment. 

How can I manage team and channel notifications? 

Microsoft Teams understands that too many notifications can be a buzzkill. Fear not! You can customise your notification settings to suit your communication style. Tweak them at the team and channel levels to ensure you receive real-time notifications that truly matter, like when someone shares an adorable puppy picture. 

Can I create private channels within a team? 

Yes, you can! Microsoft Teams respects your need for privacy. Private channels allow you to have confidential or sensitive discussions within a specific group of team members. It’s like having a secret room within your team’s clubhouse. Use channel names to ensure you’re sharing information with the right people. 

Can I search for content within teams and channels? 

Absolutely! Microsoft Teams is like a master sleuth, helping you find that elusive file or that insightful discussion buried deep within the digital archives. Utilise the powerful search bar to dig up treasure across teams, channels, conversations, and files.