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Office 365 Groups

Office 365 Groups supports collaborative working and information sharing across the University and with external partners. Bringing together conversations and calendar from Outlook, files from SharePoint, tasks from Planner, and a shared OneNote notebook into a single collaboration space, you can use Office 365 Groups to collaborate with your colleagues when writing documents, creating spreadsheets, working on project plans, scheduling meetings, sending email and more.

The use of Office 365 Groups reduces the risks associated with data being shared by email. For more details, the University Information Sharing Policy Policy 7 - Information Sharing Policy can be found on the Information Governance website.

To learn more about Office 365 Groups click here, or alternatively for a quick introduction to Office 365 Groups watch this short video (Note: At Loughborough, we've decided to make Groups private by default). 


To request an Office 365 Group, please email


Having a group conversation is similar to having an email thread but only group members participate. You can start a new conversation with the group members or reply inline to a message. Conversations are stacked in your group inbox, and when you select one, you'll see the original message plus all the replies in sequence from oldest to newest.

Group subscribers will also receive conversations in their personal inbox although it is possible to customise how you receive group messages in your inbox

Learn more about Conversations

Group Files

Sharing content, such as files and folders, is a hallmark of group collaboration. An Office 365 group makes this easy by including a dedicated library, which is the primary place for storing all your group files.

When you create a file or folder in the group's library, all members of the group will be able to access it. When you add new members to the group, including guests (external users), they too will be able to access the files. Group subscribers can view and edit the files; group members can only view

More information can be found here


Every Office 365 Group includes a shared calendar where you and every member of your group can schedule and see upcoming events. You can also share the events with other groups. The benefit of creating events on a group calendar is that everyone who's a member of the group can edit the events.

Schedule a meeting on an Office 365 Group Calendar


Every Office 365 Group includes a simple planning tool for organising and assigning tasks and getting updates on project progress. Together with the other Office 365 group features it provides you with an effective set of tools for managing projects, documentation and project collaboration. Planner is not a replacement to Microsoft Project for building out detailed plans, but supports you in managing day to day project activities in a simple and initiative way.

In the ITS Portfolio Management Office Planner is used in conjunction with Office 365 groups to create a project collaboration space which provides the following capability;

  • Create tasks, assign owners, attach documentation and set planned end dates
  • Group tasks into logical buckets. In the case of ITS we have aligned buckets to our Project Management Framework, that way we can see all of the expected work to be completed within a given stage of our project lifecycle. Note, if you do set a planned end date for a task, and that date passes, Planner will alert you by marking the end date in red
  • For each task you are also able to assign colour coded labels. In ITS we have used labels to flag the health of a task e.g. Red, Amber or Green, or whether the task/deliverable is Mandatory or on the Critical Path of the project.
  • Individual teams members can view all of the tasks they are responsible for with one plan or across many plans via the My Tasks list on the left-hand side of the navigation within Planner
  • Team members can report on the status of their tasks by marking them not started, in progress or complete. They can also record comments about the status of a task which are published out to the group via conversations, email or the app.
  • The group/plan owner can view the overall status of the plan by selecting the chart icon, which provides a visual dashboard as to the projects progress against planned work
  • If a group/plan owner is responsible for multiple projects they can select the Planner Hub on the left have side of the navigation within Planner to see an overview of all their projects that they are responsible for
  • Where you collaborate with external organisations you can provide guest access to your group which enables you to share documentation and conversations
  • Use Files functionality within the group to store project documentation
  • Use Notebook functionality with the group to capture project ideas, meeting agenda/notes etc.

Access to Planner can be gained via your Office 365 Group, within the group navigate to More > Planner. Further information regarding how to use Planner can be found on the Microsoft website. The product is a relatively new offering of Microsoft and is continuously being updated, you can contribute to its development or see what’s coming on the Microsoft Planner feedback forum or on the Microsoft product roadmap website.

If you would like further information regarding how Planner can be used in conjunction with Office 365 Groups for project management, or to see Planner being used in practice, please contact the ITS PMO at


Site pages are fast, easy to author, support rich multimedia content and the pages look great on any device. Using pages is a great way to communicate and share your ideas, such as status reports, user guides and frequently asked questions.

A site is automatically created with your group, and provides a place where group members can add additional document libraries, lists, and web parts as needed.  Find out more with an introduction to sites.

With a team site you can:

O365 Groups Expiry

From November 2020, Office 365 Groups will be subject to the same clean up process as Microsoft Teams.   

Click here for details

To request an Office 365 Group, please email



Maintain membership of the group

Ensuring appropriate access is granted based on the classification of the data contained within the group as per Information Governance Policy 3 - Information categories and controls.  Adding or removing members to the group can be done via Outlook on the web or Outlook 2016.  Staff using older versions of Outlook, including Outlook 2010, will need to use Outlook on the web.

Note: Any data classified as highly confidential should NOT be stored in Office 365 Groups.


Handling and processing of information

Group owners should store, handle and process information in accordance with the Information Categories and Controls Policy ensuring that the appropriate level of security is applied to it which includes managing group membership, sharing information and reviewing group access activities. 


Regularly review external/guest access

To ensure your University data remains secure, regularly review any guest access, removing any access that is no longer required.  This can be done via Outlook on the web or Outlook 2016.


Act as a local point of contact for IT Services


Clear out old files regularly

Group Owners are required to maintain the contents of the Office 365 Groups they manage. If content is no longer of use, it should be deleted. If inappropriate files are found (eg copy of someone's hard disk drive, personal files, etc) the Owner(s) will contact the person concerned and remove such files.

This is particularly important for Office 365 Groups used by students who may only be transient users of the group.


Delete Groups that are no longer needed

Group Owners should archive any data that needs to retained and delete Groups which are no longer required or in actively use. Advice on archiving research data can be found at

In order to keep the service clear of stale or inactive content, it is planned to routinely expire and remove inactive Groups and their contents.

Office 365 Groups

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I use Office 365 Groups or Group Workspace?

Office 365 Groups offers group conversations and calendar from Outlook, files from SharePoint, tasks from Planner, and a shared OneNote notebook in a single collaboration space and will soon add SharePoint Online team sites.  It offers modern information sharing and collaboration that works on Windows, Mac, Mobile devices and via a web browser.

Group Workspace provides simple file store that works in a traditional manner and is more suited to storing large data sets (more than 5000 files) that need to be accessed via Windows Explorer or Apple Finder.

Who can request an Office 365 Group?

Staff and Researchers are able to request an Office 365 Group

Are Office 365 Groups compliant with the University Information Governance policies

Office 365 Groups are compliant with the University Information Governance Sharing Policy and can be used for storing and sharing all University data except that classified as highly confidential. Data categorised as highly confidential is,"Exceptionally confidential information which would cause major financial loss, and reputational damage or significant distress to the data subject if used in an unauthorised manner. A very limited number of individuals will have access" -

Further information for all staff on Information Governance can be found at and group owners should be aware of their specific Information Governance responsibilities outlined at

How do I restore files and folders?

Deleted files or folders can be restored from the Office 365 Group OneDrive (also called "Files") using the Recycle bin in the left hand window

To restore previous versions of files please follow this support document, starting at step 2 

What happens if I delete an Office 365 Group I own?

Owners of an Office 365 Group have the ability to delete the group and all it's content.  A warning is given and Owners are required to tick a box to say they understand this is a permanent action and cannot be undone.

IT Services are unable to undo this action so Group Owners should be certain they wish to delete the Group before proceeding.

Can external people access Office 365 Groups?

Yes.  Guest access in Office 365 Groups enables you and your team to collaborate with people from outside of Loughborough University by granting them access to group conversations, files, calendar invitations, and the group notebook. Access can be granted to a guest—including partners, vendors, suppliers, or consultants—by any group owner.

Care should be taken when giving guest access to your Office 365 Group as they will be able to see all data stored within the group.  It is advisable to regularly review any guest access to ensure it remains appropriate.

The University Information Sharing Policy should be highlighted to external collaborators/guests:

For more information please see this support document on guest access in Office 365 Groups 

Can we have an Office 365 Group within/inside another Office 365 Group?

It is not possible to have an Office 365 Group inside another Office 365 Group at this time.  If this is something that would benefit you or your team please feedback an idea to Microsoft 

When should this be used and when should other Corporate Systems such as LEARN or Group Workspace?

The FAQ item, "Should I use Office 365 Groups or Group Workspace?" will help you choose between an Office 365 Group and the Group Workspace service.

You can use Office 365 Groups to collaborate with your colleagues when writing documents, creating spreadsheets, working on project plans, scheduling meetings, sending email and similar activities but they're not designed to replace any existing corporate application.  

For a full list of corporate applications and their purpose go to

Can I give someone read or view only access to an Office 365 Group?

All members of an Office 365 Group have full access to the group resources and it is not possible to give read or view only access.  However, at the time of writing (Jan 2017) this feature was in development:

It is also possible to allow all staff view (read) only access to a group by changing it from a Private to a Public group which may work in some scenarios.

What are the limits on file sizes, file types and special characters?

At the time of writing the maximum size of a single file is 15GB.  

Files of almost any type can be upload to the group and using the Document library can be organised into files and folders.

The following characters in file or folder names aren't supported  \, /, :, *, ?, ", <, >, |  Additionally, a file or folder name that begins with a tilde (~) isn't supported.

For further technical information please refer to the following technical documents that apply to Office 365 Groups:



How do I co-author a document, when you can and can't and things to watch out for?

Office 365 Groups is built on SharePoint which means multiple people can work together on a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation. Office has tools, such as comments, track changes, and activities for communication, clarity, and consistency. When everyone is working at the same time, that's called co-authoring.  A wealth of guidance can be found at

How do I leave or unsubscribe from an Office 365 Group?

When you leave a group, you give up your access to the group inbox, calendar, OneNote notebook, and library. The only way to regain access is to rejoin the group.

When you unsubscribe from a group (Outlook 365 only), you are still a member but no longer receive messages and calendar event notifications in your personal inbox. You'll have to go to the group inbox to see them.  You might unsubscribe from a group if you just want to review the group conversations or calendar at your convenience.

For further information please visit

How do I invite a large number of people to an Office 365 Group?

Any group visible within Outlook can be added as a member of an Office 365 Group.  Note: When a pre-existing group (eg. Ad-hoc, Dept, School...) is used, the individuals are extracted and added to the Office 365 Group as members.  There is no link or nesting of the pre-existing group within the Office 365 Group.

Adding or removing group members can be done within Outlook (on the web) or Outlook 365

How do I use Outlook 2016 on a Mac with Office 365 Groups?

As of January 2017, support for Office 365 Groups is only available for Office 2016 on Windows.  The Office 365 Groups product team are working on support in Outlook 2016 on the Mac -

Can I mount Office 365 Group Files as a drive letter?

Mounting Office 365 Group Files (technically known as a SharePoint Document Library) is not supported.  Office 365 and the most recent OneDrive Sync Client have tight integration with Office 365 Group Files (aka. SharePoint Document Libraries) to allow use from your devices, including Mac/Windows PCs, tablets and other mobile devices.

How do I book a meeting with an Office 365 Group?

All events that you create on the Office 365 Group calendar are delivered to both the group conversation mailbox and the individual inboxes of all group members. Every member of the group can edit the events, which means that if the organizer of the event is sick or on leave and forgets to cancel the event, anyone else in the group can cancel it for them.

For further help see: Schedule a meeting on a group calendar

Important Tip: When adding/booking a room for your meeting, make sure the room is shown as an invited Attendee rather than just in the Location box to ensure the room is booked.

Can I upload a folder to an Office 365 Group?

It is possible to upload a folder into your Office 365 Group Files.  Simply go to your Office 365 Group, click Files > Browse Library (right hand side) and choose Upload. 

Note: Uploading a folder requires Microsoft Edge or Chrome. At this time, you can't upload a folder using Internet Explorer 11, Internet Explorer 10, or Mozilla Firefox because the browsers themselves do not provide the ability to upload folders.

When attempting to share Files/Folder you receive an error

When attempting to share Files and Folders in an Office 365 Group our Office 365 organisation needs to know about the users you are sharing the files and folders with. If a user is not yet registered either of the following errors can be displayed:

"Administrative policies don't allow sharing with people outside your organization"

"Your organisation's policies don't allow you to share with these users. Please contact your IT department for help."

To get a user registered you need to send them an email containing a sharing link.

Right click on the file/folder you wish to share. Select Get a link.
Copy the link and then send the link in an email to required external recipient. You will have to do this from your email client using your own email address.
The recipient must then click on the link and they will be asked to sign up and provide a password. They just need to follow the instructions.
They should then be able to access the fildes/folders. In future, as they are now registered, they can just have any additional files/folders just shared without the need for a link.

How do I exit 'Classic SharePoint'?

If you an individual user and you want to return to classic mode, click Return to classic SharePoint in the bottom, left corner of the page. To switch back to new mode, close your browser, reopen it, and browse back to the page you were on.

Office 365 Groups is continuously being updated.  You can contribute to its development or see what’s coming on the Microsoft feedback forum or on the Microsoft product roadmap