tech Microsoft Teams

Private Microsoft Teams Channels: Potential Impacts & Thoughts

Michal Pisarek July 30, 2020


Private Channels for Microsoft Teams are by far the most requested new feature. The good news is that this new Microsoft Teams feature is coming soon and will further bridge the gap between Teams and Slack which has had private channels for a long time. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that private channels could have on your Microsoft Teams deployment.

Microsoft Teams Channels: What are people asking for?

Currently, the interaction between Teams and Microsoft Teams Channels is fairly simple – if you are part of a Team, then you get to see all of its Channels. With the introduction of Private Channels, this opens us a myriad of possibilities not just for Teams but all the underlying Office 365 workloads that support it, in particular SharePoint.

In this article, we are going to look at some possible scenarios, impacts, and considerations that you might want to think about before including Private Microsoft Teams Channels as part of your deployment.

Disclaimer: we haven’t had access to this feature, so please note that this article is built from our opinions and thoughts.

Before we begin, it’s worth noting what users are asking for with private Microsoft Teams Channels. From reading the User Voice, it’s clear to see there are a number of different scenarios. The main use case seems to be the ability to have a Channel in a Team that can be secured to select users in that Team. Mostly this seems to be for conversation but people also want this to be applied to the documents that are part of that channel.

Some users also want the ability to not have a user need to be part of the ‘parent’ Team but just give them access to the one Private channel. Basically, this means that they won’t see any other content in the Team.

What are organizations currently doing within Microsoft Teams Channels?

There are a number of ways that organizations are currently working around the limitation of not having Private Channels. For example, if you are working on a project with external users and there is a need to have private content and communications relating to budgets, here are some workarounds:

Creating a separate ‘Private’ Team

Creating a separate ‘private’ team seems to be the most common way. Users can create a completely separate Team with selected users involved in the private conversation. However, this solution isn’t perfect because it leaves you with two Teams to manage.

Screenshot - Private Microsoft Teams Channel
Image: Creating two Teams for a private conversation

This can result in:

  • No synchronization between membership across the two Teams and associated groups
    If you just want a place to chat, then creating a Team can require a lot of administrative work due to all of the other components that are created
    What if you want to hide some content or conversations in this private Team? Then you need to create yet another Team and eventually, you’ll have too many to keep on top of.

Having Secure Microsoft Teams Conversations Via 1:1 Chat

Another common approach is to move private conversations outside of the group chat on Microsoft Teams and into the one-on-one chat-functionality. This approach can work, but once again there are a few downfalls:

  • You now have to go to different places in Microsoft Teams to have conversations. The public ones are in the Teams conversation channels and the private conversations would be in the 1:1 chat. This can get confusing and frustrating pretty quickly.
  • Any documents that you upload and share in the 1:1 chat won’t get uploaded to the Microsoft Team but rather into the OneDrive of the person who uploaded it, so now you have multiple locations for content relating to this Team.
Screenshot - Private Microsoft Teams Workaround in Outlook
Image: Documents shared in chat are also stored in OneDrive

Use An Alternate Application to Microsoft Teams

Some people turn to email or other applications as a workaround. Adding another tool makes it easier to lose track of information and requires more time switching between applications.

Possible Impacts of Private Microsoft Teams Channels

Of course, this all depends on the implementation but here are some important things that you might want to consider when Private Channels are released:

Microsoft Teams Channels Governance

There are a lot of governance challenges and options in Microsoft Teams, but Private Channels will introduce a whole new layer to how organizations need to think, plan, and act. Already we are seeing the option to have Private Channels disabled as an option in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center so the first questions to ask is will you allow your users to create Private Channels at all in your Teams environment?

The second question will be which users will be allowed to create Private Channels? You will be able to control who will have this ability using the Teams Policy as seen below. This policy can be assigned to a subset of users within your organization.

Screenshot - Private Microsoft Teams Admin Settings & Controls
Image: Private Microsoft Teams Settings

Apart from the technical details, you will also need to communicate the usage of Private Channels in Microsoft Teams. If you don’t do this you might have users creating Private Channels for the wrong purpose. As a starting point you would want to consider the following:

  1. Guidelines on when to create a Private Channel vs. using 1:1 chats in Microsoft Teams
  2. Communication on what actually happens both with conversations and documents when a Private Channel is created
  3. Helping users understand the security around Private Channels and any policies that your organization might have
  4. Revising your governance structure to only allow Microsoft Team Owners to be able to create both public and private channels. The subtleties of Public vs. Private Channels might be challenging to communicate to end-users initially, so it may be better to have a ‘gatekeeper’ in a Team who can create and manage the creation of Channels.

Microsoft Teams Information Architecture

Information architecture is really important in Teams and the introduction of Private Channels will have a significant impact on the structure of Teams. With this in mind, here are some things to consider:

  • Will your Private Channels have a naming convention? We would assume that there will be some sort of visual indicator that a channel is private, but even so, will you put [Private] in front of your channel name?
  • What would be an acceptable mix of Public vs. Private channels? This is an interesting question because the last thing that you want is a Team with 3 Public channels and 30 Private channels. This really defeats the purpose of a Team-based collaboration.

Microsoft Teams Document Management

By far the biggest change could be the way that documents are managed in Microsoft Teams. Although no implementation details have been announced publicly we would assume that if a Private Channel is created, then the corresponding folder in the shared documents folder will also be created with those same permissions.

Screenshot - Private Microsoft Teams & SharePoint Document Libraries
Image: SharePoint Library for Microsoft Teams documents

This may mean that the same document library in a Microsoft Team could have a combination of both public and private documents. If so, this could cause confusion and some issues with content discovery.

Also, the default view of document libraries in SharePoint don’t have the same permission column that allows you to see the permission on the folder. Perhaps some visual aid will be introduced to help show private content in document libraries that are associated with a Private Channel.

Some other questions that are yet to be answered are:

  • If you convert an existing channel to a Private channel (if you can even do that), will documents in the corresponding folder have their permissions reset?
  • How will the permissions on folders be handled? Hopefully, it’s just using the standard SharePoint document library permission change that we are all used to.
  • Would users still be able to change permissions for documents in a private channel?

Questions about Private Microsoft Teams Channels

When looking at the User Voice it’s clear to see that there are a lot of questions out there on Private Microsoft Teams Channels and how they will work. In fact, there are currently over 1950 comments. 

Here are some questions that we found interesting and that illustrate some other areas to think about:

  • Can Team Owners add members to Private channels that are not within the parent Team?
  • Do members of a Private channel need to be members of the parent Team?
  • Can you create Channels without having to create a Team? (this is not really a private channels question but is really asking for more of a structure like Slack)
  • Will you be able to add guest users to Private channels? (I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to)
  • Will it be possible to convert existing channels to private channels? (I am super interested in this and what the impact would be)
  • As you can see there is a lot to think about and this feature is one that has really captured the interest of the user base. The feature has the potential to supercharge your Microsoft Teams experience but like anything, you need to do some planning and governance around it. 

Reading the User Voice makes three things apparent:

  • People really want updates on feature progress: Roughly 20% of the comments are people frustrated at the lack of communication on the update of features. Clearer communication from Microsoft would go a long way.
  • People see this as a blocker to move from Slack: Many user comments discuss how they would want to onboard onto Teams but can’t because this feature isn’t available.
  • People are using some interesting workarounds: Many users seem to be either creating whole new Teams or using private chat capability or some other means. If private channels work nicely it is going to make life a lot easier.p

It’s taken a long while but it’s coming!: Private channels were supposed to be released in October but this has now been moved to November which is the same time as Ignite. Coincidence? I think that you will see some information at Ignite 2019 about this feature.

Work Smarter in Microsoft Teams with Orchestry

At Orchestry, we recognize that the technology landscape for digital organizations has become overly complicated. That is why it is our mission to eliminate the disorder, confusion and indecision that comes from having too many digital tools to make work as simple as possible. 

Orchestry makes work simple in Office 365, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Sites by empowering your IT Administrators and employees to define a winning Microsoft 365 adoption and change management strategy that provides a roadmap of what to use when, for what purpose. Orchestry increases usage and adoption while empowering through governance and simplifies through intelligent provisioning in Microsoft 365, organization-wide at a fraction of the cost, on a subscription basis.

To see Orchestry in action, send us an email at or start your free access now!

About the Author

Michal Pisarek Image

Michal Pisarek

Orchestry CEO, 7X Microsoft MVP

Seven-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP, former Co-Founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and of BONZAI Intranet, this serial entrepreneur, international speaker, Office 365 thought leader, and former professional chef brings the great depth of product, leadership, and user experience expertise to Orchestry, working with Fortune 500 companies to deliver maximum efficiency of their Microsoft 365 investments.

When Michal takes a day off occasionally, you will find him experimenting in the kitchen, inventing a new cocktail or learning a new language while enjoying all that Vancouver has to offer with his wife, daughter, and furry companion.


This Privacy Policy explains what information Orchestry Software Inc. and its associated entities (collectively “Orchestry”) collect about you, why, what we do with that information, how we share it and how we handle the content you place in our products and services. It also explains the choices available to you regarding our use of your personal information and how you can access and update this information.

Privacy Policy Scope

Our Privacy Policy applies to the information we collect when you use one of our services, or when you otherwise engage with Orchestry Software, including, but not limited to:
when you visit our websites (“Websites“);
when you contact us for assistance;
when we connect with you as a prospective customer or as a customer;
when you attend customer or prospective customer events;
when you meet us at third party events, gatherings or meetups.
Orchestry is committed to protecting your privacy. This Privacy Policy applies to our websites (Websites), including, and, owned and controlled by Orchestry.

This Privacy Policy governs our data collection, processing and usage practices. It also describes your choices regarding use, access and correction of your personal information. By using the Websites, you consent to the data practices described in this Privacy Policy. If you do not agree with the data practices described in this Privacy Policy, you should not use the Websites.

Information We Collect

We collect personal data that you submit to us via our website or third-party tools including, for example, when applying for a job via our website or requesting support in relation to one of our services.
You are free to explore the Websites without providing any Personal Information about yourself. When you visit the Websites, we request that you provide Personal Information about yourself, and we collect Navigational Information.

Information Collection & Access

Orchestry acknowledges that you have the right to access your Personal Information. If requested to remove data we will respond within a reasonable timeframe.

We may transfer Personal Information to companies that help us provide our service, such as those organizations as part of our Global Partner Alliance. Transfers to subsequent third parties for the sole purpose of responding to requests from Websites in the appropriate geography service territory.

“Personal Information”
This refers to any information that you voluntarily submit to us and that identifies you personally, including contact information, such as your name, e-mail address, company name, address, phone number, and other information about yourself or your business. Personal Information can also include information that you enter into on the Websites, and information about you that is available on the internet, such as from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google, or publicly available information that we acquire from service providers.

“Navigational Information”
This refers to information about your computer and your visits to this website such as your IP address, geographical location, browser type, referral source, length of visit and pages viewed.

We use Navigational Information to operate and improve the Websites. We may also use Navigational Information alone or in combination with Personal Information to provide you with personalized information about Orchestry.

Information About Children

The Websites are not intended for or targeted at children under 13, and we do not knowingly or intentionally collect information about children under 13. If you believe that we have collected information about a child under 13, please contact us at, so that we may delete the information.

Information Usage

We use the information we collect only in compliance with this Privacy Policy.

In addition to the uses identified elsewhere in this Privacy Policy, we may use your Personal Information to: (a) improve your browsing experience by personalizing the Websites; (b) send information to you which we think may be of interest to you by post, email, or other means; (c) send you marketing communications relating to our business.

We will never sell your Personal Information to any third party. However, we may share or disclose your Personal Information as follows:
we may provide your information to our business partners, vendors or service providers who perform functions on our behalf;
in connection with, or during negotiations of, any merger, sale of company assets, financing, or acquisition of all or a portion of our business to another company;
as required by law, government officials, or other third parties pursuant to a subpoena, court order, or other legal process or requirement applicable to our Company;
when we believe, in our sole discretion, that the disclosure of personal information is necessary to prevent physical harm or financial loss;
to report suspected illegal activity or to investigate violations of our agreements.

Reviewing, Correcting and Removing Your Personal Information
Upon request, Orchestry will provide you with information about whether we hold any of your Personal Information. If you provide us with your Personal Information, you have the following rights with respect to that information:
To review the user information that you have supplied to us.
To request that we correct any errors, outdated information, or omissions in user information that you have supplied to us.
To request that your user information not be used to contact you.
To request that your user information be removed from any solicitation list that we use.
To request that your user information be deleted from our records.
To opt out of being solicited by Orchestry or third parties.

To exercise any of these rights, please contact us at or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy. We will respond to your request to change, correct, or delete your information within a reasonable timeframe and notify you of the action we have taken.

Retention of Personal Information

We retain Personal Information that you provide us as long as we consider it potentially useful in contacting you our services, or as needed to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes and enforce our agreements, and then we securely delete the information. We will delete this information from the servers at an earlier date if you so request, as described in “Unsubscribe from Communication” below.

Customer Testimonials and Comments

We post customer testimonials and comments on our Websites, which may contain Personal Information. We obtain each customer’s consent via email prior to posting the customer’s name and testimonial.

Security of your Personal Information

We use a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect your Personal Information from unauthorized access, use or disclosure. We secure the Personal Information you provide on computer servers in a controlled, secure environment, protected from unauthorized access, use or disclosure.

Social Media Features

Our Websites include Social Media Features, such as the Facebook Like button and Widgets, such as the Share This button or interactive mini-programs that run on our sites. These features may collect your IP address, which page you are visiting on our sites, and may set a cookie to enable the feature to function properly. Social Media Features and Widgets are either hosted by a third party or hosted directly on our Websites. This Privacy Policy does not apply to these features.  Your interactions with these features are governed by the privacy policy and other policies of the companies providing them.

External Websites

Our Websites provide links to other websites. We do not control, and are not responsible for, the content or practices of these other websites. Our provision of such links does not constitute our endorsement of these other websites, their content, their owners, or their practices. This Privacy Policy does not apply to these other websites, which are subject to any privacy and other policies they may have.

Public Forums

We offer publicly accessible blogs, message boards and community forums. Please keep in mind that if you directly disclose any information through our public message boards, blogs, or forums, this information may be collected and used by others. We will correct or delete any information you have posted on the Websites if you so request, as described in “Opting Out and Unsubscribing” below.

International Transfer of Information

To facilitate our global operations, we may transfer and access Personal Information from around the world, including the United States. This Privacy Policy shall apply even if we transfer Personal Information to other countries.

Corporate Events

If we (or our assets) are acquired by another company, whether by merger, acquisition, bankruptcy or otherwise, that company would receive all information gathered by Orchestry on the Websites. In this event, you will be notified via email and/or a prominent notice on our website, of any change in ownership, uses of your Personal Information, and choices you may have regarding your Personal Information.

Cookies & Similar Technologies

Orchestry uses cookies or similar technologies to analyze trends, administer the website, track users’ movements around the website, and to gather demographic information about our user base as a whole.

The cookies we use on this website are broadly grouped into the following categories:

Essential: Some of the cookies on our website are essential for us to be able to provide you with a service you have requested. You may not be able to use our website effectively without these cookies.
Analytics: We use analytics cookies to help us understand how users engage with our website. An example of this is for counting the number of different people coming to our website, visiting a particular page or using a particular feature. Without this cookie, if you visited the website once each week for three weeks, we would count you as three separate users and this wouldn’t be a true representation. These cookies do not let us identify specific users as the information is aggregated.
Social sharing: We use cookies to allow you to share content directly to your social networking sites for example Facebook, Twitter and Google+ i.e. clicking Like on Facebook and Share on Twitter.
Interest-based advertising: You may have noticed that when you visit websites, you will be shown advertisements for products and services you may be interested in. Cookie information about certain pages you have visited on our website helps us be more relevant in our advertising. Having these cookies does not increase the number of adverts you will be shown on these specific sites. These ‘persistent’ cookies last no longer than 90 days, or until you clear them. These and the other cookies we use do NOT allow us to see what other sites you have been visiting, they simply act as a record of our web pages and advertisements that you may see.
Opt Out of Cookies
When you first visited the websites you will have been shown a status bar notifying you that this website uses cookies and inviting you to review this cookie policy. Once you have clicked to go further into our website, the cookie prompt will disappear, this confirms that you consent to us using the cookies detailed in this policy.
Please note that we can’t always control third party cookies (such as from social networks) stored on your machine from our website and where this is the case you will need to visit the relevant third party’s website directly to understand their cookies stored on your machine by them. Please see our ‘third party cookies’ section below.
If you want to reject cookies we use from this website you will need to:
Delete the cookies from your browser. Most browsers also allow you to prevent all or some cookies being stored on your machine in the future. For more information on how to delete or disable cookies from your browser please use the ‘help’ function within your browser, or alternatively visit By deleting our cookie preference cookie, the next time you visit our website the cookie status bar will appear again inviting you to again reconsider your preferences.
AND/OR: If you only want to reject the Internet Based Advertising cookies we store on your machine, you can opt-out of receiving these cookies at any time by going to the Internet Advertising Bureau website at and following the opt-out instructions.
Please do be aware that disabling cookies may impact the functionality of this website.
Third Party Cookies
Some of the cookies described above are stored on your machine by third parties when you use our website. We have no control over these cookies of how the third party uses them. They are used to allow that third party to provide a service to us, for example website analytics. For more information on these cookies and how to disable them, please see:
Internet Advertising Bureau website at where you will be able to opt-out of receiving Internet Based Advertising cookies from some of the third parties, such as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
The use of cookies and web beacons by any tracking utility company is not covered by our Privacy Policy.

Log Files

We may collect demographic information, such as your region, preferences, interests and favorites using log files that are not associated with your name or other personal information. There is also information about your computer hardware and software that is automatically collected by us. This information can include: your IP address, browser type, domain names, internet service provider (ISP), the files viewed on our site (e.g., HTML pages, graphics, etc.), operating system, clickstream data, access times and referring website addresses. This information is used by Orchestry to provide general statistics regarding use of the Websites. For these purposes, we do link this automatically-collected data to Personal Information such as name, email address, address, and phone number.

Clear Gifs (Web Beacons/Web Bugs)

We employ a software technology called clear gifs (a.k.a. Web Beacons/Web Bugs), that help us better manage the Website by informing us what content is effective. Clear gifs are tiny graphics with a unique identifier, similar in function to cookies, and are used to track the online movements of Web users.  In contrast to cookies, which are stored on a user’s computer hard drive, clear gifs are embedded invisibly on Web pages or in emails and are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. We use clear gifs in our HTML-based emails to let us know which emails have been opened by recipients.  This allows us to gauge the effectiveness of certain communications and the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns. We tie the information gathered by clear gifs in emails to our customers’ Personal Information. If you would like to opt-out of these emails, please see “Opting Out and Unsubscribing”.


We partner with a third-party ad network to either display advertising on our Web site or to manage our advertising on other sites. Our ad network partner uses cookies and Web beacons to collect non-personal information about your activities on this and other Web sites to provide you targeted advertising based upon your interests.  If you wish to not have this information used for the purpose of serving you targeted ads, you may opt-out by clicking here: (or if located in the European Union, by clicking here: Please note this does not opt you out of being served advertising.  You will continue to receive generic ads.

Unsubscribe from Communications

You may unsubscribe from our marketing communications by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link located on the bottom of our e-mails, or by sending us email us at or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy or our treatment of the information you provide us, please write to us by email at or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.


We may amend this Privacy Policy from time to time. When there are changes to this Privacy Policy, we will update this page. The date on the bottom will always indicate when we last made changes.
Last Updated: July 28, 2020

Step 1 of 4

  • Congratulations...

    Congratulatons, you are taking the first step to making work simple in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams & SharePoint. Complete this form to see Orchestry in action with a FREE personalized tour of the platform.

In completing this form, you are providing your contact information to Orchestry Software Inc to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.

Step 1 of 4

  • Congratulations...

    Congratulations, you are taking the first step to making work simple in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams & SharePoint. Complete this form to get started with FREE access to Orchestry for 28-days

In completing this form, you are providing your contact information to Orchestry Software Inc to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.

Step 1 of 3

  • Congratulations...

    Congratulations, you are taking the first step to join the global Orchestry Partner community, making work simpler in Microsoft 365.

In completing this form, you are providing your contact information to Orchestry Software Inc to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.