Office 365 Group Usage Guidelines

Service Description 

Microsoft Office 365 is the Town of Plainfield's preferred suite of collaboration tools to support the Town's educational, research, and administrative services. Office 365 Groups serve to unify collaboration technologies across Office 365 as a cross-application membership service that enables teams to collaborate effectively and securely by establishing a single team identity and a single set of permissions to a collection of Office 365 resources.

Plainfield's Office 365 Group Usage Guidelines outline the roles and responsibilities, policies, and processes that guide, direct, and govern the management and operation of Office 365 groups. The Guidelines must be considered when creating, managing, using, deleting, or archiving Office 365 Groups.

Office 365 is an evolving service provided by Microsoft and administered by the Town of Plainfield Information Technology (ToPIT). As such, the Guidelines are reviewed and/or updated regularly by ToPIT to ensure alignment with any changes to the Town of Plainfield's Office 365 or Microsoft Office 365 service offerings. All users are responsible for ensuring they are up-to-date with the Guidelines and Office 365 service offerings.


The Guidelines apply to all Office 365 Groups, whether created through Outlook, Planner, Microsoft Teams, Stream, or any other application using the Office 365 Groups membership service. The Guidelines similarly cover content generated while using any of the resources and features within Office 365 Groups, including but not limited to:

  • Shared inbox
  • Shared calendar
  • Shared OneNote notebook
  • SharePoint Team site and document library
  • Planner
  • Microsoft Teams chat


The Guidelines apply to all Town of Plainfield staff, as well as to contractors or agents engaged by a department or employee or any individual using Town of Plainfield IT resources, whether on-site or remotely. The Guidelines also apply to external consultants, partners, and other guests or external users who may have authorized access.

Governing Policies

Users of the Office 365 service are governed by the Electronic Communications and Information Technology Resources Policy (Coming Soon) and the Town of Plainfield Employee Handbook. Failure to comply may result, at a minimum, in the suspension of service.

Appropriate Use and Eligibility 

  • Office 365 Groups (herein referred to as "Groups") enable teams to come together and communicate in a shared collaborative workspace and provide a collection of resources for team members to share, and as such, Groups should only be created where there is a need to collaborate and communicate between several users, such as a team.
  • Groups should never be created for individual use. Individuals should use their OneDrive for Business space when working on documents with a smaller number of collaborators (e.g., 1:1 or 1:few). Groups with less than three users may be subject to removal.
  • All current staff of the Town of Plainfield with an active Town of Plainfield email account is eligible to create Groups through self-service in Outlook, Planner, and Microsoft Teams.

Group Owners

  • The user who creates a Group is automatically assigned the Group owner role.
  • Group owners have administrative privileges in the Group. An owner can add or remove other owners, members, and guests, approve requests from members to add a guest, and have special permissions like the ability to delete conversations from the shared inbox. Group owners can change the display name of the Group, update the description or picture, change Group settings, and more.
  • Owners have the ability to connect an existing Group (applies to private Groups without hidden membership) to a Microsoft Team

Group Owners are responsible for:

  • Reading, understanding, and adhering to the Guidelines, including governing Town policies, standards, and best practices.
  • Ensuring that the Group has been named appropriately, a description of the Group has been provided.
  • Ensuring that the Group has at least two active owners.
  • Ensuring that new owners are appointed before they depart from the Group.
  • Ensuring that access to the Group and associated content is managed appropriately. This includes removing access when access is no longer needed or warranted.
  • Ensuring that storage space is used optimally and that University Records are managed following the Town of Plainfield guidelines and practices.

Group Members

  • Group members are the individuals who use the Group to collaborate. They have shared access to everything in the Group but can't change Group settings or manage users. Group members can invite guests (subject to owner approval) to join the Group.

Group Members are responsible for:

  • Reading, understanding, and adhering to the Guidelines, including governing Town policies, standards, and best practices.

Group Identification and Naming

  • Group names should not give a false or ambiguous idea of or misrepresent the Group. As such, they should not include unfamiliar acronyms, general terms, personal name(s), or names that have priority by other departments or business units they are not affiliated with (e.g., HR, ToPIT, Police Administrators, etc.).
  • The Group name can include hyphens and/or underscores. Any other special characters will not appear in the Group ID and thus the Group's email address.
  • A Group with an inappropriate or objectionable name or content may be removed at any time.
  • Names containing offensive characters or words will be subject to immediate removal.
  • If you are uncertain about naming the Group, please contact ToPIT (HCCC) before creating it.

Privacy Settings

  • Private Group: Only approved members and guests can access the Group.
  • Public Group: Access is open to all Office 365 users, including staff and guests.
  • Note:The default privacy setting for a Group is Private. Group owners can change the privacy setting. 

Hidden Membership

  • Hidden membership parameters can only be set at the time of Group creation by an Office 365 administrator and cannot be changed after the Group has been created. If you want a Microsoft Team with hidden membership, please contact ToPIT (HCCC) before starting the creation process.

Data Retention and Removal

  • In establishing a Group, a Group owner is considered the Information Custodian.
  • An Information Custodian is responsible for maintaining appropriate controls to guard against unauthorized access, modification or deletion, and inappropriate use or disclosure of records within the Group's shared space, whether intentional or unintended.

Inactive Groups

  • Information Custodians need to be aware that Groups that have been inactive for a period of 1 year or more may be deleted by ToPIT. ToPIT will notify Information Custodians prior to deletion, but if they receive no response, the Group will be deleted. 
  • If a Group is deleted by ToPIT or proactively by an Information Custodian, all the records associated with the Group's shared space will be deleted as well.

Groups without Owners

  • Information Custodians and Group members must be aware that ToPIT may delete ownerless or orphaned Groups. ToPIT will notify Group members before deletion, but if they receive no response, the Group will be deleted.
  • If ToPIT deletes a Group, all the records associated with the Group's shared space will also be deleted.


  • Group owners have the ability to delete a Group but cannot recover a Group. 
  • *** Note: if you delete an Outlook group, Planner plan, Stream group, or Microsoft Team, you are deleting the underlying Group and all of the Group's content.
  • The content of a deleted Group may be recoverable by an Office 365 administrator provided a request to recover is made within 30 days from the date of Group deletion. Beyond the 30 days, the Group cannot be retrieved. The Group owner can make a recovery request by contacting ToPIT (HCCC).

Sharing with External and Annonymous Users

  • Sharing with external and anonymous users is enabled for Groups.
  • External and anonymous users are users who do not have a license to the Town of Plainfield Office 365 subscription and are limited to basic collaboration tasks through the use of sharing links. If you or your group perform work that involves sharing documents or collaborating directly with vendors, contractors, consultants, researchers, clients, or customers outside of the Town of Plainfield, you can use external sharing features of SharePoint Online to give them access to certain areas of the Office 365 Group, Microsoft Team, or specific files and folders in an associated SharePoint Team site or document library.
  • External users must not be granted any admin privileges.
  • Group owners and/or members are responsible for ensuring that external user access is removed and anonymous sharing links are disabled when no longer needed or warranted.
  • If information within the Group should never be shared with external users, group owners can request a more restrictive sharing option by contacting ToPIT (HCCC).

Guest Access

  • Guest access is enabled for Office 365 Groups and Microsoft Teams.
  • Guests are users who do not have a Town of Plainfield Office 365 subscription license and only require a valid email address to be added to a Group as a guest member.
  • Guests can participate in Group conversations, receive and respond to calendar invitations, and access the Group files. 
  • Group owners are responsible for ensuring that only those that need access are added as guests and that guests are removed when access is no longer required or warranted.

Support Contact

IT Helpdesk (HCCC)

Requesting Service

All Office 365 applications and Groups are visible through the Azure Applications Panel.

All current staff of the Town of Plainfield with an active Town of Plainfield email account is eligible to create Groups through self-service in Outlook, Planner, and Microsoft Teams

Documentation and Service Information Links

Learn about Microsoft 365 Groups
Create a Group in Microsoft Outlook
Create a Microsoft Team
Create a Plan in Microsoft Planner

Related Services

Microsoft Office 365