Why can Frontline Workers not add a Teams meeting to their meetings?

The other day I received a comment on my post “Some quirks of the F3 license“. The commenter’s Frontline Worker F3 colleagues do not have the option to “Add online meeting to all meetings”. Apparently the option is not visible in the Outlook web app.

Enter a new Microsoft365 detective: Teams Thorne*. Will he become as famous as SharePoint Holmes, you think?

Let’s find out! Here’s what Teams Thorne did to see if he could find out if this was user-, admin, or license-related.

1. Is it a user thing?

Teams Thorne has a Small Business License, which, like the F3 license, is 100% online. He opened Outlook (on the web, obviously), and first checked what the normal behaviour of his Calendar was with regards to organizing meetings. He created a new event.
The “Teams meeting” was visible, but not checked. But as soon as he added a person to the invitees, the box got checked.

The Teams meeting checkbox is automatically checked when you add another person to your meeting.

He then looked at how things were after disabling it in his settings.
In Outlook or Calendar, click the Gear Wheel > View all Outlook settings > Calendar > Events and Invitations. The option to add an online meeting was indeed checked, so he unchecked it and waited for some time.

When this box is unchecked, you do not automatically add a Teams Meeting. You do it manually.

He went back to his Calendar, created a new event and noticed that the box did not get checked when he invited someone. But he could enable the Teams Meeting manually by clicking on the button.

With the setting disabled, you can still add a Teams meeting, but you have to check the box yourself.

This did not match the issue described. Teams Thorne had the option to add an online meeting to all meetings, so there must be something that disables that button entirely. In any case, this did not appear to be an incorrect user setting.

2. Is it an admin thing?

The next thing to investigate was the Teams Admin Center. Perhaps there is a setting that prevents that button from loading?

Teams Thorne opened the Admin center and headed to the Teams Admin Center > Meetings. The Meeting Settings did not give any indication, but the Meeting Policies looked promising. He opened the Global (Org-wide Default) policy and looked at the options available. Hmmm, there was permission given for the Outlook Add-In, could that be the thing that made the connection between Teams and Outlook?

The Meetings > Meeting Policies menu items contains a setting for an Outlook add-in. Is that a clue?

He disabled the Outlook add-in, logged off and waited some time for the new policies to “settle”. It now looked like this:

The Outlook add-in has been disabled.

The next day, he opened his Calendar and started creating a Meeting. Hey, that Teams box was not there!

There is no “Teams Meeting” option to the right.

He went back to his Outlook settings and noticed that he could not check that box, apparently because there was no provider mentioned.

As there is no meeting provider mentioned, it is impossible to activate this setting.

So, it looks as if you need the Outlook add-in in Teams to have that option.

But…in the Global Policy, which is the Default for everyone who is not in another policy, it is enabled. I hope that organizations will not edit their Global Policy unless they have a very good reason. I can not imagine why you would want to disable adding a Teams meeting to all meetings – you do not HAVE to meet with Teams, but it is pretty convenient to have it just in case something goes wrong with your face-to-face meeting.

3. Is it a policy thing?

Teams Thorne had never tinkered with the Meeting Policies, in fact this was the first time he ever looked at them. So he concluded that the option to use the Outlook add-in is standard. But perhaps there was a special policy for Frontline Workers?

He went through the Teams Admin Center to see if there was anything else that could shed some light on whether this might be different for other groups. Hey, there was a Policy Packages menu item – could that help? He saw a number of policies, including a Frontline Worker Policy:

In the Meetings > Policy Packages there are a number of policies for different roles.

Upon clicking the Frontline Worker Policy Package, it showed a number of options:

The different policies for Frontline Workers

When he opened the Meeting Policies he noticed the following settings. The items were the same as the Global (default) policy, but a lot of things are OFF, including the Outlook add-in.

The Outlook add-in has been turned off for Frontline workers.

But when he compared it to, for instance, a Higher Education Student, or a Healthcare Clinical Worker, you see that the Outlook add-in is available for them.

In other roles, such as the Higher Education Student shown here, the Outlook add-in is enabled.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to make changes to the Policy Packages, unless you have a Teams Premium or Advanced Communications license.

Conclusion

So, there is a number of things that we have found out.

  1. Your colleagues need to have the Outlook add-in in order to be able to add a Teams meeting to a meeting they schedule.
  2. The Outlook add-in is enabled in the Global (Organization-wide default) policy and is therefore available for all employees, unless they have another policy applied to them.
  3. The standard Frontline Workers Meeting Policies have the Outlook add-in disabled, so employees with this policy package are unable to add a Teams meeting to their scheduled meetings.

So, in the organization of the person who made the comment, it is most likely that the Frontline Workers have the Microsoft Teams Frontline Workers Meeting Policy Package applied to them, or another policy without the Outlook add-in.
In theory the Global (Org-wide default) Meeting policies could also have been changed, but in that case all employees would be unable to add a Teams meeting. That was not what I understood from the comment.

But why you would want to exclude Frontline Workers from adding a Teams meeting, is totally beyond me. But that is another topic.

So, what do you think of Teams Thorne’s first case?

* About Teams Thorne:
Part of my role was solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I had a standard response, but sometimes I needed to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought Iā€™d introduce Teams Thorne, Teams investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud. Teams Thorne is based on Tom Thorne, a British detective, who was created by Mark Billingham and has featured in books and a TV series.

Please note: Due to an exciting, but rather time-consuming private project (moving house) I am currently posting a bit less frequently than usual.

SharePoint Holmes and the Concealed Classic sites

Today I have a mysterious SharePoint issue myself. Fortunately, I know where to reach SharePoint Holmes so I can ask for help! šŸ˜‰

< takes cloak, puts on detective cap >

The case

Over the years I have created lots of new sites in my tenant, in order to learn, to test stuff and to make screenshots for my posts. As my list of sites was pretty long, and as I am no longer using most of those sites, I decided to do some spring cleaning.

What better place to start than the SharePoint Admin center? So there I headed, to the list of Active sites. This includes the root site, an App Catalog, a site called “Group for answers in Viva Engage (I never created that myself!) and my External site, which should no longer exist but still is around. (More about that in another blog)

I checked each site and deleted it when possible. Oh, the joy of being alone in your tenant and not having to ask if an unused site can go! šŸ˜ (Mind you, at other times it is not very practical to be the only user in your tenant.) I ended up with this manageable list of 13 sites:

My Active sites. The ones that are sort of “system-related” are highlighted.

To check all sites had really gone, I looked at my SharePoint landing page, under Followed sites.
I noticed a few sites that were not in my list of Active Sites, such as 3 varieties of “Team site”. They are all highlighted in the screenshot. What is happening here?

The investigation

I clicked on each of the highlighted sites to see what was the matter.

Sites I follow. The highlighted ones do not appear in my list of Active sites.

“Espana-Management Only” and the “Team site” on the same row appeared to have been deleted. Deletion of a site apparently does not delete the Follow, which is unpleasant.
I unfollowed those sites to keep my list clean.

This is what you see when you click a Followed site that has been deleted.

I opened the other sites. Hey, this was interesting.
“Quick Links”, “Project site” and “Sales Reporting” looked like subsites, judging from their URL. According to the information link in the SharePoint admin Active site list subsites are not listed in the Active sites, as are some other system sites. OK, that is a little annoying, but as we are not supposed to use subsites anymore, it also makes sense.

That leaves a few other sites.
I had already noticed that the 3 subsites are Classic sites. The “Team Site” and “ellenvanaken-teamsite” are also Classic sites.
But they are not in my list of Active sites!

I went back to the SharePoint Admin Center and filtered on “Classic sites”. Nope, they were not in the overview.

Filtering on “Classic sites” showed only three “system” sites

I was not exactly happy about this, as I want to be able to know which sites are in my tenant. Which other sites was I missing?

I checked the “Recent” in my SharePoint Landing page and noticed another Classic site that was not in my list – “Drinks business”. The URL did not look as if this was a subsite.

My list of recently visited sites contained another Classic site not in the list

I traced back all the subsites except the “Drinks business” to their parent sites: “Team Site” and “ellenvanaken-teamsite”. But those two parent sites were not in the list of Active sites!
I looked again at my list of Classic sites in the Active sites. There are two sites that start with “ellenvanaken” so might that be a clue that those were the original sites created when I set up my tenant? And that all sites were created from there?

I clicked on the link of the root site but got an error message.

My root site has an error, it does not have a homepage

But when I added “_layouts/15/viewlsts.aspx?view=15” to the root I could access the list of subsites. BINGO!

The solution

All my mysterious subsites were there.

The mysterious sites are subsites of the root site.

I had never realized that these were all subsites and therefore not displayed in the list of Active sites. In the early days (my tenant is from 2011, well before Modern SharePoint) I created each subsite from the ellenvanaken-teamsite. Later I created sites from the SharePoint landing page, which creates sites on the top level.

Well, I am not exactly happy with these messy results but at least I understand and know where all my sites are. I need to think about streamlining this clutter!

Conclusion

  1. If you have an older tenant you may still have Classic subsites hanging around, which are not visible in your list of Active sites in the SharePoint admin center. This is a potential risk, as they may live on forever, may contain outdated or incorrect content or people may still be working in an outdated environment. Although Classic sites still work, they are a tad cumbersome to work with, once you have become accustomed to current SharePoint!
    So you (or your Microsoft365 admin) may want to take a look at your root site and see what you can find underneath.
  2. You may want to inform your colleagues that deleted sites will still be shown in their Followed sites. A periodic reminder to go through all Followed sites (and to unfavourite all that have been deleted or they are no longer interested in) may help them to keep their lists manageable.

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role was solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I had a standard response, but sometimes I needed to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought Iā€™d introduceĀ SharePoint Holmes, SharePointĀ investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Please note: Due to an exciting, but rather time-consuming private project I am currently posting a bit less frequently than normally.