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Allow users to create Teams

I noticed that many organizations do not allow users to create teams in Microsoft Teams. This is a disaster. This defeats the purpose of teamwork. In this article I will discuss the common objections and concerns behind blocking user creation of teams. I will also provide solutions to address these concerns. (Reading time 5 minutes). 

Showing elephant leg in chains. To depict how preventing users from creating Teams is a bad practice.
  1. User education. Users need to know that Teams is to be used for official work and all data is archived as well as discoverable. This increases accountability.
  2. Recycle unused teams using Azure AD Groups Expiration Policy to automatically delete unwanted groups.
  3. Use Azure AD Groups Naming policy to prevent misuse of team names.
  4. Focus more on enhancing effective usage rather than making the creation process cumbersome.
  5. It is fair to block very junior staff from creating teams. But beyond a certain level in the organization, you should trust employees to do the right things.

Teams creation FAQ or Frequent Concerns / Apprehensions

Why allow users to create teams?

This promotes collaboration and improves efficiency.
If you don’t allow, then users will create chat groups to manage teamwork. This will lead to large-scale confusion and chaos. Group chat is NOT the right way to manage a project. That is why the “teams” part of Teams exist. Chat is for ad-hoc work and teams are for structured work. That is why both features should be available to users. Teach them which approach to use when and leave them alone. Trust them.

How to prevent too many teams getting created by users

This is a common concern. There is a simple solution for it. In Azure AD, you can set recycling and automatic deletion of unwanted teams. The recycling period is configurable. Few days before the automatic deletion, the team owners get a mail to check if they want to extend the site. If they don’t respond, the site is deleted. Simple and effective.
Read the detailed instructions here.
AD Group expiration policy

How to prevent users from creating teams with objectionable or banned words?

Customers are worried that people will use names like “CEO office”, “HR”, “Incentives”, product names unofficially while creating teams. The solution is to configure Teams with automated prefix / suffixes. This way, user created team names are never used in isolation. Problem solved. See detailed steps here. Group Policy to create woreds banned for Teams team names

What if too many teams are created and our SharePoint storage quota is exhausted quickly?

You already know the solution. Automatic purging of idle teams releases the space wasted by unused teams.

How to prevent users from misusing Teams for criticizing the company or bad-mouth about management policies

If employees want to voice their opinion about anything they find objectionable, they have many other methods available. They are not waiting to create Teams for this purpose. The solution is to inform all users that Teams data – chat, meeting recordings, conversations, files, etc. is stored and discoverable as per regulatory and compliance requirements. They are smart enough not to use it for anything which will land them in trouble and hold them accountable for some objectionable activity.

Allow users to create teams – Freedom with governance

Teams was designed for working together. Even before Teams existed, people have been working together.

How? Primarily using email. While ad-hoc work is best done using email, if it is urgent we need to use chat. Question is – which chat? Some software app.

If the work is not ad-hoc, then what?

Long project, multiple people, tight deadline, a long list of tasks to be completed – how do you work together efficiently? Do you think this can happen on email? Just because we have been using email for this type of work does not mean it is the best way. It is just that we did not have a choice.

Of course, there are many apps available. But then that leads to another problem. One app for chat and another for structured teamwork. More confusion and more chaos.

That is where Teams comes in. It gives you ad-hoc work + structured work in a single place. What’s more, it also serves as a container.

However great a product is, it cannot satisfy diverse needs of billions of people across thousands of industries. That is why Teams allows you to add whatever else you need to get your work done.

This makes it a great place to do all kinds of work – without using email.

What to use Outlook (or email) for?

Is email dead? No. But its importance has reduced.

Earlier, we used email for everything. Because the alternatives were paper, costly mobile calls or in-person meetings. In older days, using email was more efficient compared to the alternatives.

Now we have better tools like Teams for ad-hoc communication as well as teamwork. That way you must reduce your dependence on email.

That is why you must allow users to create teams in Microsoft Teams. If you don’t then, they will continue to misuse email and use Teams only partially.

In short, they will end up misusing both tools! This defeats the purpose.

What about tasks?

This is a simple one. Two types of tasks. My work and teamwork.

My work is best listed as Tasks in Outlook.

Teamwork or project related work is best listed in Planner which can be added to Teams channels.

Further reading

Teams usage Common mistakes – live session recording.
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