This introductory blog series is intended for remote workers who have started using Teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams will be an essential tool in the battle to stay productive, to stay connected, and to fight corona as one global community. It is not intended for IT Pros which should refer to the Teams Real Simple with Pictures series, also on this site

Day 1: Desktop Client Orientation 101
Day 2: How do I join or create a team? Create a channel? Start a chat?
Day 3: How do I chat with others outside of my organisation?

Written: 19/03/2020 | Updated: N/A

In the last blog, we created Teams, and Channels and we looked at the three ways to chat with other users in the organisation. However, this was within the organisation. Part of the magic of Teams is that it allows us to chat and work with people outside of the organisation too. Most people today work with people outside of their organisation – customers, suppliers, consultants, vendors, peers. It’s therefore important to understand how we do it.


With teams, we think of users outside the organisation as being one of two types

Guests: these are people outside your organisation you give access to in order to participate and collaborate within a Team in your environment. These guests may or may not already use Teams, they may simply have an email address such as To use a house analogy, guest access is like giving someone a key to your house where they can come in from time to time, access the front room, put their feet up, make a cup of coffee and have a conversation with us

Guests communicate with you via Teams and channel conversations (see last blog)

External Users: these are people outside your organisation who you chat and collaborate with but do not give access to your Team or your environment. These typically use Teams or Skype for Business. To use another house analogy, you are both in different houses talking to each other on the telephone

External Users communicate with you via Private and Group Private chats (see last blog)

A very simple and crude drawing to understand this is as follows


The ability to chat and collaborate with both guests and external users is controlled by your IT Admin. If you can’t do the steps below please contact them to discuss, as this may have been blocked for organisational reasons.


In Teams, select the chat app on the app bar (left rail)


Select the New Chat icon at the top and immediately left of the search bar


Type out the name of someone outside the organisation who you want to chat with. It should come up with a notification search [email address] externally. Select it. (Note if search [email address] does not display then your IT admin has turned the functionality off, or their IT admin has). You may want to try this a few times just to make sure



You can now begin chatting to that person over Teams!



To chat with a guest, you need to first invite them into your Team. Select the Ellipses (…) next to the Team name, and then Add Member


Type out the name of someone outside the organisation who you want to add as a guest. It should come up with a notification Add [email address] as a guest. Select it, select add then close (Note if Add [email address] as a guest does not display then your IT admin has turned the functionality off)




The user is now a guest in your team, can log into your environment and you can chat with them in any of your Team Channels



Yes, it is very likely as more people use Teams

When you are invited to work as a guest in another organisations Team you will get an email to log in. Select Open Microsoft Teams and it will take you to their environment and the Team


When you are a guest in other Teams environments you can switch between your organisations environment, and the environments you are a guest in. This way you can easily move between the Teams in your environment, and the Teams you have access to in other organisation’s environments



Our job here is done for today. I hope that you now understand

  • What guests and external users are and the differences between them
  • How you can chat to an external user via private chat
  • How you can invite a guest to a Team and start chatting and collaborating
  • How you can switch between Teams environment when you become a guest in other Teams environments

I hope you enjoyed this blog

Tomorrow’s blog is going to be Rich Chat Features for great communications

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