Collaboration tools like Office 365 are amazing, no doubt about it. These platforms are revolutionizing the way we work on our projects. But most projects require extra support in the form of analysts, partners, suppliers or consultants. And yeah, most of the time these people are not part of your organization. Keeping that in mind, Microsoft today announced a new guest access feature for Office 365 Groups.
The new feature will allow organizations, teams or groups to include people outside of their company in an Office 365 group, thus taking digital team collaboration to a whole new level.
The service won’t be rolled out all at once. Instead, Microsoft is going to release it in phases. The first platform to get the new feature is Outlook on the web. Group owners can now add guests to a group in Outlook. Guests added to your network will receive a welcome email. Following which, they are granted access to group files in SharePoint Online. They then begin receiving email messages and calendar invites sent to the group and can even access the group in Office on the web and the Outlook Groups mobile application.
Not just that, these new unofficial members of your group also have automatic access to cloud-based file attachments. Guests are also allowed to leave the group at any point of time.
Visual indicators throughout the platform remind all members of guest participation in the group. These guests can hold email accounts on any domain. The company writes in a blog post announcing the new feature:
Guest access works for any email accounts including corporate and consumer domains (such as Outlook.com or Gmail.com). If the guest email identity is associated with a Microsoft account (such as Office 365 or Outlook.com accounts, for instance), the user is directed to a sign-in page to identify themselves. If the guest doesn’t have a Microsoft account, they will be directed to a sign-up page to create an account.
Google Docs, another similar online collaboration tool, has had a similar feature for a while now. The platform allows users to share their projects with anyone and play with who can have access to the documents, spreadsheets or presentations. You can make your files public, giving access to anyone on the web, share them with specific people using a link or keep them private, within your team.
While those features are extremely helpful, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft’s guests capabilities stack up against Google’s sharing features.