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FAQs: Teams Guest Member Experience

To avoid creating duplicate teams in the Stanford University tenant, individuals in the School of Medicine should primarily be guests on teams in the SHC and SMCH tenants.

Review these FAQs to learn more about how to work with guest members in Teams.

Getting started

Q:Can you elaborate on what cross-affiliate collaboration in Teams means?

Each of the three Stanford Medicine Affiliates maintains and manages its own separate M365 tenant. To share data across Stanford Medicine, each affiliate may invite guests from the other affiliates to join their Teams tenant.

Q: Can PHI/PII be shared in Teams?

PHI (patient medical record information) and PII (staff Human Resources data) will be allowed to be shared for collaboration efforts across Stanford Medicine. Your access to Teams and other Microsoft 365 applications, including Stanford University email, will be limited to devices with a Cardinal Key starting Aug. 31, 2023.

Understanding tenants and guest access

Q: What is a Microsoft tenant?
A tenant is an application available to a specific group of users and typically associated with a domain name, such as or In Microsoft, Stanford University, Stanford Health Care, and Stanford Children's Health each maintain their tenant.
Q: What does it mean to be a guest?
 At Stanford University, a guest is someone who doesn’t have a SUNet ID or a Stanford University Microsoft account. The individual becomes a guest once invited to join a team in the Stanford University tenant and accepts the email invitation to activate their guest account. You will be able to collaborate with colleagues in the health systems as guests in the Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health platforms as well as with collaborators outside of Stanford who have Microsoft Teams available in their institution.
Q: What does it mean to be an external user in Teams?
 External access lets people in other organizations chat and call you. You cannot add a person with external access to a Team unless you add them as a guest.
Q: I am in the School of Medicine and see Stanford in my organization picker, but I don't see Stanford Health Care or Children's Health Care in my list. What should I do?
 To see organizations you may access as a guest in your organization-picker list, you must first receive a chat or an invite to a Teams' team from someone at that organization.  Here’s how it works.
  • You will receive an email notifying you of a waiting chat message or Teams team invite. To accept the invite, click the link in the email.
  • If you have previously selected "open these links in Teams, " Microsoft will redirect you to your desktop Teams client version.
  • Go back to the browser window behind the desktop client window. You should see your guest chat there. 
  • If the guest organization does not show up, you may need to log out and log back into Teams. You may have to do this several times. 
Q: I invited a healthcare colleague to be a guest on my team in the Stanford University tenant, but the option to log in as a guest account is missing from their Teams application. What happened?
 When you invite a collaborator to be a guest member in the Stanford University tenant, Microsoft will email them an invite if they have not worked in the tenant before. The collaborator must accept the invite to switch to their guest account. Learn more about working with external guests.
  • If the guest member accepts the invite but doesn’t see the option to switch tenants when they click on their profile in the upper right corner, they may need to restart their computers and attempt to accept the invite again.
  • If the recipient misses the invite, they will not be added to the team as a guest. You will not receive feedback that the chat or Teams team site invite has not been accepted. The best solution is to ask your collaborator to check their inbox and accept the invite.
  • If the collaborator has accepted the invite but does not see the option to switch to their guest account, ask them to restart their computer and accept the invite again.
Q: Is the presence indicator tenant-specific?
Yes, the presence indicator is tenant-specific. Wherever you see someone’s profile, such as tagging them in a channel thread or trying to chat with them, you’ll see if they are online in your tenant. If they’re not online in your tenant and you need to reach them quickly, it may be best to message the external user outside of Teams.
Q: How does a guest know what Microsoft tenant they are in?
 They should see the tenant selected in the upper right in the organization picker. A tenant is an application available to a specific group of users and typically associated with an organization and domain name, such as or Learn more about the guest experience.
Q: Some of my collaborators have both a SUNet ID and a hospital ID. Should I add them to my Team as full members (SUNet ID) or guests (hospital ID)?
 You can discuss this with your collaborators to determine the best answer. If your collaborators spend most of their time in the SHC or SCH tenants, they may prefer to be added as guests. But adding them as full members will make the experience more feature-rich. 
Q: Why do I see two entries for a colleague outside of Stanford University?
 You may see two entries for a user you've chatted with who has also been invited into a team at Stanford University as a guest. Choosing the (External) user may be the best way to chat or call with that individual since the guest member may not be signed into the Stanford University tenant. The guest member option may be better if the guest must participate in team meetings, document sharing, and extended multi-person team channel conversations. 
Q: How do I know if I’m adding a Stanford University member or a guest member to my Team?
In the Stanford University tenant, (SHC)(Guest) or (SCH)(Guest) will appear after the names of those with an active hospital affiliation in the Team’s directory.
Q: Can I invite someone outside of the Stanford university or health systems domains to be a guest in the Stanford University tenant?
Anyone at the university can invite a guest user from any domain. (i.e. Once that user accepts the invite, they could then be added to a Teams team as a guest. The difference is that everyone at SHC and SCH already has a guest account created for them in the university tenant.


Q: When I send a chat message in Teams, will guest members receive a notification?
 When you send a chat message in Teams, notifications are sent to everyone working in the tenant — including guests. However, no message will be displayed for guests not currently active in the tenant. What guests do get is the same as if they missed a notification in their account: an email summarizing that a notification is waiting for them that arrives about an hour later. They also get a notification waiting for them in their Activity tab the next time they manually log in to the relevant account. However, knowing that guest members will only see a chat when they are signed into the Stanford University tenant, it may be best to limit conversations to file collaborations and non-urgent matters.
Q: Someone sent me a chat in Teams, but I didn’t see any notification for it and missed their message.   How can I prevent this from happening again?
There are a few ways you can help to ensure you won’t miss chat messages.
  • Be sure you have notifications turned on. Go to your profile icon in the top right corner (your initials in a circle) and select More options (three dots). Select settings, then privacy. In the Windows and Mac desktop applications for Teams, notifications are not shown for messages from another organization’s Microsoft 365 tenant, so you can use a browser window or the mobile app for Teams. For the mobile app on your iPhone, the notifications from all guests at Teams in other organization locations will show an alert, although there may be a delay. You may go into settings in the Teams app on your phone to turn the sound on or off for Teams notifications. For a browser window, open in a supported browser and navigate to and sign in if required. Once the Teams app is open, go to your name icon (circle with your initials) in the top right corner and select the guest organization from the drop-down list. 
  • Use the incognito window. If you want an additional organization’s guest windows to open, you may use a private incognito window. (Note that is impossible for SHC users due to Conditional Access sign-in requirements).
Q: Is there any easy way for guest members to work in their home tenant but still be available to join group chats across tenants?
 Chatting as a guest requires you to switch your view to the guest account. When you switch tenants in your main desktop app, you can no longer see chats and data in your home tenant. As a workaround, many people keep a browser or mobile app open in the other tenant while keeping the desktop app open in their home tenant. Then they can participate in both at the same time.
Q: I received an email saying that I have a chat from someone at a different organization, but when I click the link, it takes me to my own organization’s Teams chats. What should I do?
 When you click a link to open a chat or file in Teams, it will try to open the correct file or chat but defaults to opening Teams from the organization where you last authenticated. For example, if you last chatted with someone from SHC, Teams will open to SHC Teams. Here’s what you can do to find the message or file you want: Use the organization picker (by clicking your profile icon in the upper right corner) and select the organization (tenant) where the message originated. (For example, if you receive an email notification from an SMCH colleague, Stanford Children's Health (Guest)). Once you have switched tenants, click the link in the email notification or select the activity bell at the top left corner of the Teams screen.
Q: How do I add someone from Stanford Medicine to a team or chat if I don't see the name I am looking in the Teams directory?
 Stanford University members may choose to have their name to be hidden from the Teams directory (Global Address List). You can add their name by entering the person's full email address, i.e.,
Q: How do I start a chat with an external user if I don’t see their name in the directory?
 Start a new chat, and enter the external user’s full email address. You will see an option to “search externally” for the user. Once the user is found, you can chat, call and see the external user’s availability (presence) information. Learn more about working with external guests.
Q: How do I add someone external to Stanford to a team?
 Open the Teams' team, then select "add member" in the three dots next to the name of the Teams' team at the top of the channel names list on the left.  Enter the person's full email address. For example, "" The recipient will receive an email from Microsoft with a link to access the Teams' team at Stanford. Learn more about working with external guests. Learn more about how to add members to a team.

Planner, Whiteboard, OneDrive, and other M365 apps

Q: I want to add a guess from another organization to my Microsoft Whiteboard, but I can't find their names in the drop down "people picker" list.  What is the issue?
 Microsoft has not enabled Whiteboard for cross-organization collaboration. However, you can use the app for whiteboarding activities across the School of Medicine or use the Whiteboard in a meeting while showing your screen.
Q: I do not see the "+" symbol to add an application (Planner, Wiki Notes, SharePoint Lists, etc.) to a Teams' team channel. Why is that?
 Only team owners can add applications and change the configuration of a Teams team.
Q: I shared a Word document from my OneDrive to a guest at another Stanford Medicine organization. Why is he being required to sign into Teams each time he want to open the file?
 You can avoid this issue by granting access. This option ensures that only the individual you specify will be added to a list of people with direct access to the file and avoids the known issue requiring Stanford Medicine Affiliates to re-login to M365 after clicking a shareable link for file sharing in Teams. Here's how:
  1. Click the More option (three dots) next to the document in the document library view (list of documents) and select "Manage access" from the menu of options.
  2. Click the blue "+" symbol to the right of "Direct access."
  3. Select the guest's name from the drop-down list or enter the guest's full email address.  When you are done, click “Grant access.”
Q: I am a guest in a Teams' team hosted at SHC. My SHC colleagues can edit a file in the document library but I cannot. What should I do?
SHC has sharing policies for documents automatically matched with PHI or PII data and labeled as "High Risk." Stanford Medicine users can view but not edit the files. You may ask one of the team members from SHC to change the file label to "Secure" so that you may edit the file. 
​Tip: If the team has a mixed membership of Stanford Medicine guests and guests from other organizations, it is best practice to move documents into a private channel only accessible by guests from organizations trusted for collaborating with PHI. 
Last modified February 26, 2024