External access in Microsoft Teams is available to organisations that need to communicate and chat with people outside the organisation. External chat is handy if you need to communicate with members of the public, partners, suppliers or customers. Depending on if your admin has enabled it, you can search for someone external in a Team chat, find them and start chatting and even start an audio or video call with them.
Microsoft has announced that Teams users can now chat with any Teams user outside their organisation. This means you can invite any Teams user to chat by entering the full email address or phone number you want to reach and start a 1:1 or group chat with anyone with a Microsoft personal account.
If the person you want to chat with is not a Teams user already, they will receive an email or a text message inviting them to join the conversation using a personal account. When they register and sign in to their Teams personal account, they’ll be able to join the chat.
If you receive a message from someone you don’t know, you can block them from messaging you.
Is this a good thing or bad thing?
External collaboration is always a good thing. It prevents people from reverting back to email and is a much quicker way to get a response. The only reason why I think this might not be the best thing to happen to Teams is that I receive connections and sales/recruiter messages through email and social media. I liked that it didn’t happen in Teams, but now it can. Administrators can turn this functionality off, and there are some M365 E5 anti-spam and anti-phishing tools available to help protect users. However, for those not on E5, we can still get those unwanted messages.