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There are many channels for communication which we use with colleagues in and outside of the department. Here are some best practices and important things to remember.

Remember: all communications you may have about University matters or individuals connected with the University can be subject to a Freedom or Information request or a Subject Access Request. This includes in MS Teams as well as on personal email, WhatsApp or any other written medium.


  • Always double check your recipients, attachments & forwarded text before pressing ‘send’.
  • When responding to an email consider carefully if you should delete previous correspondence from the email trail (i.e. in situations where you are forwarding information on or CC new colleagues). Further guidance available here
  • Turn off ‘auto-complete’ for email recipients. You can do this in Outlook by clicking File > Options > Mail. Under Send messages, clear the Use Auto-Complete List to suggest names when typing in the To, Cc, and Bcc lines check box.
  • Consider using a mailing list if you need to email the same group regularly (can be more fool proof than remembering to ‘Bcc’). More information available here.
  • Please note – grouping contacts within Outlook and using the group as the distribution list is not the same as a mailing list – it is still necessary to place the group in the Bcc field.
  • Use 7 Zip to password protect/encrypt documents containing personal or other confidential data (whilst providing the password separately, such as by telephone) and then email them using FILR. Click here further information
  • Monitor and confirm that passwords are robust and unintelligible
  • Consider setting up a delay on sending emails in Outlook – this allows you time to modify or delete the message if you realise after pressing ‘send’ that the email was drafted incorrectly (MS blog for further information).
  • Always be mindful of what you need to do to keep University (and your own) data safe. Refer to the IG webpages for more information.

Microsoft Teams

MS Teams is available to everyone with Single Sign-on. It is recommended that you install the desktop app.
Go to Start | Search | Teams | Pin to Taskbar

  • The benefits of using MS Teams are that it:
    - Reduces email traffic
    - Allows virtual meetings 1:1 and group (max. 250) 
    - Improves sharing of information and collaboration, particularly across groups

Note: MS Teams is also not to be used for any formal communications. It is an informal chat channel that enables collaboration. Any formal records, of documents or discussions, should be via the usual channels and saved in the appropriate place on the shared drive.

  • To reduce the number of email notifications you receive, take the following steps:
    In the app, click on your initials in the top right corner and then settings. Once in ‘settings’, click on ‘Notifications’ and adjust as you wish – for example, ‘mentions’ can be shown in the feed, on the banner, or via the banner and email.



  • Tag colleagues: Think about who needs to read your message and tag appropriately. If you do not tag, colleagues may miss your update however tagging unnecessarily causes distraction to those who don’t need to see your message. Choose from the following tag options:
    - @NAME to notify select individuals
    - @team to notify everyone in that team (e.g. Core Admin)
    - @channel to notify everyone in that channel (e.g. Christmas Party Costumes)  
    Each person you @mention gets a notification in their Activity feed. If you do not wish to receive notifications for @channel mentions for a particular channel you can switch this off directly in the channel:


  • You can see which Teams you are a member of when you log in and in settings choose whether they appear as a Grid or List. The name of the channel with appear in bold when there has been activity and with a red notification when you’ve been tagged.

Teams List or Grid

  • In channels when replying to a post it is best to use the thread function. Hit “reply” under the message to keep the conversation in one place and minimise “noise”. You can tag colleagues as usual. 

Thread Message

  • Chat vs Team or Channel: If sending more than a few social messages or one off communication is required it is recommended to create a team to aid collaboration. If all members are in an existing Team a channel can be created as part of this. If not all members are in a team you can request a new team to be created here
  • Name your team and channel so members know its purpose. E.g. PHC-CTU-Social shows clearly it’s a department channel for the Clinical Trials Unit and for social exchange.
  • Restrict Posts if your Team or Channel is very large and for delivering communication rather than collaboration you can restrict who can post and create channels to minimise disruption. Go to the Team – Manage Team – Settings – Member permissions. In individual channels you can enable to option to moderate posts. 

Join a virtual meeting

To ensure everyone joins the same call always join a meeting through the outlook meeting invitation.

Join meeting

Go to your calendar and open the meeting invite.

Join meeting 2

 Click the Join Microsoft Teams Meeting link.

Documents on MS Teams

  • Useful for team collaboration and documents which need to be accessed regularly by a wide range of people, and potentially by multiple users at the same time
  • It is particularly suitable for information that may not be needed long-term, and for collaborative working on drafts
  • The secure shared drives must be used for long-term information/once documents are finalised and agreed

For further tips on MS Teams and information visit the MSD site: Remote Working with Teams

Shared Drives

  • The Department's shared drives are the most secure place for saving things and are frequently backed up.
  • All documentation, once finalised and agreed, should be saved in the appropriate location on the shared drive and not stored solely in MS Teams or on OneDrive.
  • For frequent users of MS Teams, it is recommended that you periodically review your files and delete those that have been finalised and saved on the shared drive.


  • OneDrive is a secure platform for the sharing of information internally to Oxford users.
  • OneDrive is not intended to replace the shared drives. It is best used to house temporary documents which multiple users may need to access. If OneDrive is used for shared documents and collaborations, once the documents are finalised and agreed, these final versions must be stored in the appropriate place on the shared drive.
  • Ownership of OneDrive folders cannot be transferred e.g. if the folder owner leaves the department. For this reason, it should not be used for long-term purposes or committees. The University will be introducing SharePoint Online later in 2020, and this is the appropriate tool for long-term use/committee paper circulation.
  • More information about the University-provided OneDrive service