Office 365 Groups: Practical Usage Guidelines

Office 365 Groups helps in simplifying teamwork. Creating the Group is easy. But getting the entire team to utilize it effectively is another matter. This article shows a step by step process of bringing your team together using Groups. Technology is only 50% of the story, rest is psychology!

Office 365 Groups Usage Guidelines - Practical Approach


Office 365 Groups is a powerful way to work in a team. Creating it is easy. Typically a new Group should be created when a new team is formed for a time bound activity. It contains all the things you need to work with each other – without sending attachments! Read these articles before reading this one: Office 365 Groups – Instant Teamwork, Office 365 Groups: Automatic Sync between personal and group calendar.

Components of Office Groups - Files, Calendar, Delivery Group, OneNote notebook

Office 365 Groups: Usage Guidelines

  1. Identify all the users who will be part of the team
  2. Create a group from OneDrive, Outlook or Outlook Web Access
  3. Specify a name and a description.
  4. Don’t be lazy. Put a description which makes sense to an unsuspecting user who is suddenly added as a part of this group. They will be notified by a mail. Description mentioned here will help them understand the context and their role in the team.
  5. Add email ids of the team members.
  6. Remember that you can add external users as well.
  7. Conversation folder, File Folder, Calendar and Shared Notebook gets created automatically.
  8. Everyone automatically gets access to all these things and they are notified by an email about the newly created group.
  9. All of them will see this group in their Office 365 applications
  10. This is where technology delivers what it has to offer.
  11. Now we have to make it work for us.

How to prevent common mistakes while using Groups

Lot of things can go wrong. Given below is a list of bottlenecks and related remedies. Please notice how many related things are usually NOT considered when few enthusiastic users try to make everyone else “consume” some cool, new technology.

  1. Most probably all team members DO NOT know about Groups and its benefits.
    Ask them to read these articles.
  2. They are still used to sending attachments for everything and manually adding each team member’s email id for every mail they send.
    Read this Your biggest enemy: CCs with attachments
  3. Everyone needs to understand the following things in order to use Groups effectively.
    Wherever possible, I have given relevant links.

    1. What is OneDrive and How to use How to Sync it from various devices
      Knowledge Pack: OneDrive for Business
    2. Does everyone have the Sync client installed on their PCs ?
      Install it from the Office 365 portal.
    3. Does everyone have the OneDrive and OneNote apps on their mobile devices?
      Install from Portal or relevant app store.

    4. How to use OneNote? Many people don’t know this even today.
      How to start using OneNote, Shared OneNote: Worried about who has edited what?
    5. How to connect browser based OneNote Online to desktop OneNote
    6. How to open shared OneNote in mobile OneNote
    7. How to save documents to SharePoint / OneDrive / Groups instead of My Documents? 4 methods of using OneDrive for Business effectively
    8. How to see the Group Folders while saving files from Office desktop tools
    9. How to attach files from Groups (as links) while sending mails from PCs and devices
    10. How to create an appointment in the shared calendar using browser (web access)
    11. How to create an appointment from Outlook desktop on the Shared Calendar.
    12. In case you have a mix of internal and external users, how to manage content which may be confidential from the point of view of the external parties?
      The only solution is to use regular email (if few mails are involved) or create another private group (if lot of mails and documents are confidential)
  4. Do the seniors involved with this team understand the benefits and are they willing to learn it as well?
    1. This is a tough one to solve.
    2. If you don’t solve this problem, in spite of having Office Group setup, you will be sending CCs with attachments to bosses!
    3. Show them a demo of a functional Group and highlight the benefits. I am sure they will understand.
    4. But in many cases you have to do extra hand-holding to make them participate whole-heartedly and without resistance.
  5. Outlook supports Groups only from version 2016. If you are using earlier version, some activities can only be performed using Outlook Web Access.

If I have missed any issues, please post them as comments. Happy Teamwork!

Here are all the articles I have written about Groups: Office 365 Groups: Knowledge Pack

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