Microsoft Teams. Thoughts on remote working governance

Image: Microsoft Teams Home working man lying on bed with laptop
By Neil Hobson on

Microsoft Teams. A few thoughts on remote working governance

With the move towards remote working during COVID-19, Microsoft Teams is playing a pivotal role to support this initiative and ensure that users remain connected and productive through its capabilities such as audio and video conferencing. If an organisation is starting or accelerating its Microsoft Teams deployment, there are many considerations in allowing users to safely and securely collaborate. Below are just some of the areas an organisation might want to consider as it moves towards initial or increased usage of Teams remotely.

Access to Microsoft Teams

Access to Microsoft Teams remotely will likely be on a variety of devices from different locations. Perhaps now is a good time to review Conditional Access policies that help control under what conditions access will be granted to Teams. For example:
• Will access be allowed from unmanaged devices?
• Under what conditions will users be prompted for multi-factor authentication?

Image: Microsoft access denied pop up message

There are other access scenarios to consider. For example, if you have Microsoft Cloud App Security, it can be configured with a session policy to monitor access to Teams via a web browser. The policy can be configured to prevent file download in certain situations, such as when the content contains sensitive information or even block all file downloads if this is required.

Image: Microsoft Teams access monitored pop up

Teams – who can create them? How will they be governed?

Maybe the move to using Microsoft Teams requires many teams to be setup for the first time. Who in the organisation has permissions to create Office 365 Groups? This controls who can create new teams in Microsoft Teams. It is possible to restrict creation of Office 365 Groups to specific users. If this restriction is lifted to include all users, there are governance considerations such as Teams ‘sprawl’ and uncontrolled growth. Conversely, if Office 365 Group creation restriction is enforced, what is the process for users requesting new team creation? Will this be automated?

Image: Microsoft Teams create Team button

These are important considerations in any Teams deployment of course, not just when Teams is being rapidly deployed across an organisation to support remote working. In parallel, if many teams are being created, something else to consider is what the Teams landscape will look like later. Microsoft provides governance capabilities such as Office 365 Groups expiration policies and activity-based group expiration. However, without these, there exists the risk that inactive groups and teams could remain. This will need the appropriate level of planning.

Microsoft Teams settings – user experience, security and compliance

If you’ve ever opened the Microsoft Teams admin centre, you will have seen the comprehensive array of policies and settings available. There are org-wide settings for controlling areas such as external and guest access, as well as numerous policies available such as those for messaging, meetings and apps.

With remote workers accessing Teams to remain connected and productive, meetings will likely take on increased significance of course. Have the meeting policies been reviewed? Do the users fall under the org-wide default policy? There are a wealth of features and capabilities available in Teams meetings that users may need when working remotely, such as content sharing controls during meetings. For example, apps such as the whiteboard in Office 365 can prove extremely valuable in a Teams meeting when topics need to be annotated visually.

Image: Admin Center

Some policies and settings may have more security and compliance implications than others. Examples here include guest user access, external access and the ability for file sharing and cloud file storage using third-party storage services.

Office 365 retention policies. Governing Microsoft Teams data

If Microsoft Teams is being used, users will be creating content such as chat messages, channel messages and files. Retention or deletion of this content may not have been thought about, particularly if Teams is being deployed for the first time to facilitate the remote working need. If Teams content needs to be retained and/or deleted, Office 365 retention policies can help. Retention policies support Microsoft Teams chat and channel message locations as well as SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business locations too.

These are just some of the governance areas that an organisation can consider when starting or accelerating its deployment of Microsoft Teams. There may be other areas to consider, such as communication compliance to monitor for violations involving offensive language in Teams, for example.

How can we help?

Silversands is a Microsoft Gold Partner of over 30 years standing,  which specialises in Microsoft 365 delivered across cloud (Azure) and hybrid IT infrastructures. We provide consultancy, support and user adoption services. The Covid-19 virus will make organisations seriously re-assess their business continuity plans and we are running a series of webinars over the next few months that will be relevant to your organisation.However, in the short-term your priority is more likely to be support to back up your IT team.

IT Support – Silversands provides pre-paid support which covers a wide range of needs including:

• Remote IT cover
• IT service desk calls / escalation
• End user support calls
• Setting up VPNs on firewalls
• Windows Virtual Desktop
• Microsoft Teams deployments
• Intune / BYOD management
• General Microsoft 365 advice & guidance

If you need help and would like to have a chat about how Silversands might be able to help you, please complete the form below:

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