Channel it!

24 collaboration celebrations – No. 4

😎4th day in, and realizing I wanted a weekend, and not to write…and I wanted some rest…😴So here goes no. 4 on day 6. So much for writing a blog a day! 😇 Well, the best intentions aside; some times we need to change plans, that is part of life. 🤷🏽‍♀️Still, I will give you 24 blogs, no matter how long it takes! Perhaps more important than the number of blogs; I hope whatever I share brings you value, and that you learn/find something you can use. 💡

✨Topic of the day: Channels 💬

And more specific channels in Microsoft Teams (hereafter Teams), and a little about chat too.

Why use more Teams channel conversations than Teams chats?

And big thank you to @Mårten Hellebro for suggesting the topic! 😊🎉#DreamTeam,

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.”

– Mike Krzyzewski

The introduction of Microsoft Teams, as @Ståle Hansen, have said; can be compared to when e-mail arrived to the workplace; it is a shift of paradigm. Do we remember when we could start sending emails to each other? Some of us, or some of our colleagues, wasn’t even born then. There might have been some resistance: “What do you mean? I can just click a button and my letter is sent, via some cables, to the other side of the world, and they can read it now?” 📧📬🖥️

📜🗄️And not to mention; that we stopped using paper documents (well, did we really stop?), we use digital “paper”. What if we reflect a bit on what we have learnt, how we have matured and are using email these days. How are we collaborating and communicating using email, and other digital tools? ⏳ Take a few seconds, close your eyes and think about where you started on your digital journey…and what you are using today to collaborate and communicate with colleagues and peers. What are we using in 5 – 10 – 20 years?💭

Av Knud Bergslien – Norske Folkelivsbilleder : efter Malerier og Tegninger, Christiania : Chr. Tønsberg, 1858. Plate 7 (p. 31 in scanned copy), Offentlig eiendom,

In Norway, in the old days, as we have quite a few mountains and hills in parts of the country, we used cairns and smoke signals to communicate over distances, and now and then a long instrument called “lur“, and in case of emergencies, like war or shipwrecks, we made a fire on one mountain hill cairn and then someone on another hill would see it, and light a fire on theirs, and so on, covering quite a distance in relative short time. If they had a lur, they would use that as the sound went far.

💡I guess it’s a good thing we moved on, and have quicker and more effective communication tools today. And, we can use these tools to more than warn about danger or other super-important information. Still, we tend to misunderstand and mis-communicate even using the newest technology. Some times the right, and the wrong, information gets lost on the way. Technology in itself can do a lot, still, to ensure good, effective and secure communication, which is the foundation of great teamwork, culture is just as important. More specifically; Teams culture.

🥰Teams culture 👍🏽❤️😄😮😟😣

Teams culture is different from team to team, from company to company, and there is no right or wrong answer to “What is the best way to work and communicate in a team in Teams?”. There are some good practice that has been well tested and works. There are many great blogs and videos about Teams channels vs Teams chats, I have copied in a few below and if you search the internet you’ll find more, and quite likely you have some good practices yourself. Here I will share some of my thoughts about Teams culture and what to use when.

Should I post in Teams channel or Teams chat?

To determine whether what you are about to write, or share, should be shared in a Teams channel or a Teams chat depends on the context; are you communicating with one person and just want to clarify if you should have the meeting at 1pm or 2pm, or are you asking a question related to a project activity to someone that you want to do something, or are you informing a group of people of something?

Content is king and context is queen” – Jussi Mori (a great friend and inspiration)

To define the different context and which tools (Microsoft 365 tools/services/apps – loved child has many names and terms) to use, the MOCA (Microsoft Modern Collaboration Architecture) can be very helpful. Popping up one of these days, in one of my blogs, is a little bit more about the MOCA. In the meantime you can have a look at my video from our Next Gen Microsoft 365 Operations event earlier this year, about the topic:

👉🏽Back to Teams culture and context:

A typical situation: Joe starts a private chat in Teams with Jonah, and they figure out they need Scott and Amy’s input to the conversation, which perhaps started with a question raised by Alice, in an open channel in a project team in Teams, they might end up with a private group chat with 15 people. Which could just as well has been a conversation in a shared channel in Teams instead. Two weeks later Scott asks Alice about the topic, and not realizing she was the one who initially asked.

What’s stopping you from initiating a conversation in a shared channel in Teams?

  • Sometimes we might be afraid to make to much “noice” in a shared channel, as there is very little conversation in the open channels in Teams as it is
  • I might not be sure to where to put my input or question
  • People are using it differently
  • Most of the communication happens in email
  • I don’t want to be the one that put my head in the front, nobody answers anyway

And, then all, or much of, the conversations happens in private chats and email. Where has the collaboration gone then?

I’m in the Teams channel, where are the others?

Business related conversations 👉🏽shared channels

📦We can compare moving into a team in Teams to moving house. If I define where the kitchen, living room and bedrooms are, it is easier for the moving people to know where to put the different furniture and boxes. 🏙️The same goes for structure in Teams. You need to define where the conversations should go, and it starts with structuring the channels.

🗺️🧭The Teams channels are helping guides to organize content. A team in Teams is meant to be a hub for a group of people who are going to work together and have more or less the same access to the same content, and working in a shared context. Organize the channels related to the topics being covered in this group and organize according to who should have access, not necessarily how the organization look like. E.g. if the team in Teams is a project team, organize the channels according to project methodology, or another structure that will make sense for the members of the team.

I like to organize a project team in Teams like this:

  • 00 PMO & Admin 🔒
    • I use a private channel for this, as I am going to use it for the prize annex to the contract, resource allocation matrix, etc., content with restricted access for only project management
  • 01 Plans and strategy
    • If we are running a project I reckon we have some plans, a business case, or are making some. Here I will share the contract documentation (except appendix 8 and 12 as they are mentioning prices and resources costs), as we are delivering on this. Hence every project member needs to know and understand it
  • 02 Meetings
    • One thing is for certain; if we are running a project, we for sure will have meetings
      • Steering group meetings
      • Project stand up meetings
      • Stakeholder meetings
  • 03 Deliveries
    • We have things to deliver in the project, anything related to the deliveries, discuss and share it her! PS! Remember you can utilize the associated SharePoint Online Team site quite a bit for this part (+ for No. 02 Meetings)
  • 04 Risks and issues
    • There will for sure be some logs to fill, let’s gather them here, and add a touch of Planner for following up that we are actually closing the risks and issues
  • 05 Communication
    • Gather every standard emails, presentations, communication plan and material, links to a project portal for open communication related to the project (could be a SharePoint Online Communication site)
  • And other relevant channels, depending on the content and context

Use emoticons to differentiate between channels

To make it even more user friendly, and as we human tend to remember images, I also use emoticons in channels, example from our Community Teams for the Norwegian Microsoft 365 Community.

🏡Each sub-group (location) has a “home”
🟣For each topic channel there is a coloured circle
The rest of the emoticons are pretty much self-explanatory

Different context, different structure

If my team in Teams is for a department, the structure should be different. In addition, all department teams in Teams could have a identical core structure, with some of the channels the same, and with the same tabs in respective channels, and then the department admin could add other channels and tabs related to the internal life in the department.


Check out some examples of channel organization on Microsoft Docs.

Make Teams ground rules:

📓When the Teams channels are defined it is much easier for your team members to understand where to communicate what and where to store what. Still, it is important that the team are aligned and have some common ground rules:

  1. Agree/inform with the team some ground rules for how we as a team communicate and collaborate. E.g. In our team:
  2. 👍🏽When someone posts an important information and/or action post, we hit thumbs up to indicate that it is read AND understood
  3. If I am starting a new dialogue I use the text field formatting to write a header
    • which makes it easier to find/see, also in search
    • Indicate importance
    • Read more about working in Teams channels
  4. If I am replying to a post, I use the “Reply” function and do not start a new thread
  5. Everybody in the team communicate in the open, private or shared channels team in Teams and do not send emails to each other when the correspondence is about the teams purpose and/or content (ref. no. 1)
  6. And other ground rules, please feel free to add yours examples in the comment field below.

Ad hoc, one to one or one to a few conversations 👉🏽 private chats

  • Quick clarification about meeting time
    • Perhaps I am booking a meeting with a colleague and I would like to double check which time works best for her/him, I would send a message in private chat. If the conversation topic diverts into our project, we will move the conversation to a shared project channel.
  • Check best time for a team to meet
  • If I have a question about when our project team should meet for a project dinner or get together, I would use the poll function in the project social channel, which is an open channel in Teams.
  • Ad-hoc sharing
    • If I and a colleague are planning a project, we can start in a private chat in Teams, share documents from our respective OneDrive folders, use our personal OneNotes. However, as soon as our project is approved, we will move the contents from our respective OneDrive folders and into the folders in Teams (which are basically in a document library on the SharePoint Online Team site associated with Teams and move notes to the shared OneNote for the project.
  • Files you share via private chats are stored in your OneDrive. If you leave the company or rearrange your OneDrive, the files you have shared may no longer be available for those you have shared it with. If the content is work related, store it in Teams/SharePoint and link to it in the private chat (if you need to share it there, otherwise share in Teams channels).

Check out some good blogs looking at Teams channels vs chats:

I hope this blog and references gave you some ideas about what to think about when planning where to communicate in Microsoft Teams.

If you have any questions, scroll down and you know what to do! You can also contact me directly either via SoMe and/or via my employers contact form on our web page: Workshops – CloudwayWe are running great workshops and proof of concepts covering these topics. We can help you, and your partners, to remove blockers on your way to the cloud! We love to share what we know – to help everyone having secure productivity in the cloud!

Ask me a question!

Have you got a question for me?

Thank you to those who have gave me their suggestions. If YOU would like to nominate a topic, please feel free to do so completing this form, or scan the QR-code added on this page.

Scan the QR-code to ask me a q

Published by Merethe Stave

Read more about me at

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: