Office 365 Now Allows You Invite Guests to Your Groups

Office 365 has already changed the way employees work in teams or groups, but Microsoft has now gone a step further, making it possible to have guests from outside your company collaborate within a group on Office 365. Although this functionality is only in its infant stage, it has already widened the scope of cooperation between people to improve productivity and enable better collaboration with business partners, consultants and vendors.

It has now become possible to share files, access SharePoint Online and interact as if the external user is just another member of the group on Office 365, albeit on an invitation-only basis, allowing for better and more effective engagement without compromising the structure or security of the group.

So how does this work?

External users are invited by the group owner via the web version of Outlook of Office 365 by clicking on the “Add Guest” link and entering the person’s email. You can invite a guest into your group no matter what email account they use. All guests have to sign into Microsoft to get Office 365 access, but they can be part of any email domain, even if it’s not part of a business.

Once an external user has been successfully added to the group, they receive a welcome email and will be able to start receiving messages from the group in their inbox, including calendar invites. He or she can now also access file attachments. In addition, they will be given access to the group’s files in SharePoint Online.

To ensure security and transparency when it comes to what, how and when an external user accesses data and interacts, there are clear visual indicators to identify to the rest of the group that the external user is a guest as well as a current member of the group.

This is bound to positively change the way we collaborate with business partners, vendors and consultants on part-time and more personal basis. This improved communication and greater reach for collaboration from Office 365 is but the first of many benefits of this new functionality – as 2017 progresses, we expect many new improvements and innovations when it comes to interacting with guest users in Office 365.