Overview of teams and channels in Microsoft Teams

Let’s get started by thinking about how Microsoft Teams allows individual teams to self-organize and collaborate across business scenarios:

  • Teams are a collection of people, content, and tools surrounding different projects and outcomes within an organization.

    • Teams can be created to be private to only invited users.
    • Teams can also be created to be public and open and anyone within the organization can join (up to 10,000 members).

    A team is designed to bring together a group of people who work closely to get things done. Teams can be dynamic for project-based work (for example, launching a product, creating a digital ship room), as well as ongoing, to reflect the internal structure of your organization (for example, departments and office locations). Conversations, files and notes across team channels are only visible to members of the team.

  • Channels are dedicated sections within a team to keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects, disciplines—-whatever works for your team! Files that you share in a channel (on the Files tab) are stored in SharePoint. To learn more, read How SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business interact with Teams.

    • Channels are places where conversations happen and where the work actually gets done. Channels can be open to all team members or, if you need a more select audience, they can be private. Standard channels are for conversations that everyone in a team can participate in and private channels limit communication to a subset of people in a team.
    • Channels are most valuable when extended with apps that include tabs, connectors, and bots that increase their value to the members of the team. To learn more, see Apps, bots, & connectors in Teams.

For help using teams and channels, check out Teams and channels.

View this short video to learn more about best practices for creating teams and channels:

Membership, roles, and settings

Team membership

When Teams is activated for your entire organization, team owners can invite anyone at your organization they work with to join their team. Teams makes it easy for team owners to add people in the organization based on their name. Depending on your organization's settings people from outside of your organization can be added to your teams as guests. See Guest Access in Microsoft Teams for more information.

Team owners can also create a team based on an existing Microsoft 365 group. Any changes made to the group membership will be synced with Teams automatically.

Team roles

There are two main roles in Teams:

  • Team owner - The person who creates the team. Team owners can make any member of their team a co-owner when they invite them to the team or at any point after they’ve joined the team. Having multiple team owners lets you share the responsibilities of managing settings and membership, including invitations.
  • Team members - The people who the owners invite to join their team.

In addition, if moderation is set up, team owners and members can have moderator capabilities for a channel. Moderators can start new posts in the channel and control whether team members can reply to existing channel messages. Team owners can assign moderators within a channel. (Team owners have moderator capabilities by default.) Moderators within a channel can add or remove other moderators within that channel. For more information, see Set up and manage channel moderation in Microsoft Teams.


When you add a team owner, they are also added as a member, except when the team is created in the Teams admin center or when a team is added to a new or existing Microsoft 365 group.

Team settings

Team owners can manage team-wide settings directly in Teams. Settings include the ability to add a team picture, set permissions across team members for creating standard and private channels, adding tabs and connectors, @mentioning the entire team or channel, and the usage of GIFs, stickers, and memes.

If you are a Teams administrator in Microsoft 365, you have access to system-wide settings in the Teams admin center. These settings can impact the options and defaults team owners see under team settings. For example, you can enable a default channel, “General”, for team-wide announcements, discussions, and resources, which will appear across all teams.

By default, all users have permissions to create a team. To modify this, see Assign roles and permissions in Teams.

One key early planning activity to engage users with Teams is to help people think and understand how Teams can enhance collaboration in their day to day lives. Talk with people and help them select business scenarios where they are currently collaborating in fragmented ways. Bring them together in a channel with the relevant tabs that will help them get their work done. One of the most powerful use cases of Teams is any cross-organizational process.


When you create a new team or private channel in Microsoft Teams, a team site in SharePoint gets automatically created. To edit the site description or classification for this team site, go to the corresponding channel’s settings in Microsoft Teams.

Learn more about managing Microsoft Teams connected teams sites.

Example Teams

Below are a few functional examples of how different types of users may approach setting up their teams, channels, and apps (tabs/connectors/bots). This may be useful to help kick off a conversation about Teams with your user community. As you think about how to implement Teams in your organization, remember that you can provide guidance on how to structure their teams; however, users have control of how they can self-organize. These are just examples to help get teams to start thinking through the possibilities.

Teams is great for breaking down organizational silos and promoting cross-functional teams, so encourage your users to think about functional teams rather than organizational boundaries.

Types of Teams Potential Channels Apps (Tabs An icon depicting a folder with a tab./Connectors An icon depicting connecting blocks/Bots An icon depicting a small robot)
Sales Annual Sales Meeting

Quarterly Business Review

Monthly Sales Pipeline Review

Sales Playbook
Power BI



Summarize Bot
Public Relations Press Releases

News and Updates

Fact Checking
RSS Feed

Event Planning Marketing

Logistics and Scheduling





Marketing/Go to Market Market Research

Messaging Pillars

Communications Plan

Marketing Bill of Materials

Microsoft Stream


Technical Operations Incident Management

Sprint Planning

Work Items

Infrastructure and Operations
Team Services


Product Team Strategy





Services & Support
Power BI

Team Services
Finance Current Fiscal

FY Planning


Accounts Receivable

Accounts Payable
Power BI

Google Analytics
Logistics Warehouse Operations

Vehicle Maintenance

Driver Rosters
Weather Service

Travel / Road Disruptions


HR Talent Management


Performance Review Planning

HR Tools

External Job Posting Sites


Virtual Team

Workforce Development

Compete & Research
Power BI

Microsoft Stream

It's possible to create Teams that align with the organizational structure. This is best used for leaders who want to drive morale, have team-specific reviews, clarify employee onboarding processes, discuss workforce plans, and increase visibility across a diverse workforce.

Hierarchy diagram of teams and channels organized in Microsoft Teams.

Org-wide teams

If your organization has no more than 5,000 users, you can create an org-wide team. Org-wide teams provide an automatic way for everyone in an organization to be a part of a single team for collaboration. For more information, including best practices for creating and managing an org-wide team, see Create an org-wide team in Microsoft Teams.

Next steps

Read Chat, teams, channels, & apps in Teams to walk through a list of decisions important to your Teams rollout.