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How does Microsoft Teams track user activity?

Companies eager to track their remote workers' productivity are examining how UC apps like Teams track user activity. How does Teams track what users do on their devices?

Businesses seeking to monitor the productivity of hybrid and work-from-home employees might opt to track various user activities on business apps. Microsoft Teams, in part due to its bundling with Microsoft 365 and Office 365, is widely considered an ideal way to track user behavior.

Does Teams track activity? Let's look at what is considered activity in Teams, what it can and cannot track, and how businesses can monitor employee productivity without sacrificing personal privacy.

What types of activities can Teams track?

Within the Microsoft 365 administrator dashboard, businesses can track user activity across multiple 365 products, including Teams. These reports can be viewed directly on the 365 dashboard or exported into a CSV format. This data can be viewed in seven, 30, 90 or 180-day layouts. More than two dozen metrics can be tracked, including the following:

  • Number of Teams group and private messages initiated by a user.
  • Number of replied messages.
  • Device types used, including Windows, Mac, Linux, web, Android, iOS.
  • Number of Teams meetings a user participated in.
  • Number of one-on-one calls conducted.
  • Number of meetings organized by a user.
  • Sum of audio and video call duration.
  • Sum of screen share time duration.

What counts as an activity in Teams?

Anytime a user engages with Teams in one-on-one, group and channel messaging, voice, video, conference meetings or file sharing, it counts toward active use for reporting purposes. Looking specifically at chat messages, all posts, replies, mentions and reactions are tabulated over a specified time frame. It's important to note that an activity metric is tabulated and historically tracked only when a user engages with the tool. Additionally, tracking is active regardless of whether the user is accessing Teams on a PC, mobile device or through a web browser.

What data an employer can or cannot access

Employers have access to all the aforementioned activity metrics. Administrators can create usage reports listing all monitored activities or a selected subset of those activities.

One Teams metric not currently tracked is the amount of time that the Teams presence feature indicates if users show a status of available, busy, away, offline or "be right back." This is because status tracking is not considered a reliable way to measure productivity. Organizations can, however, use other commercially available tracking tools to obtain this type of information.

Tracking is active regardless of whether the user is accessing Teams on a PC, mobile device or through a web browser.

How to use activity data without sacrificing employee privacy

Organizations can get the activity information they need while ensuring the privacy of users by anonymizing Teams reports. This process encrypts any identifiable information using an MD5 hash. Examples of identifiable information that can be made anonymous include the following:

  • User or display names.
  • Email addresses.
  • AD object IDs.

Note that anonymizing Teams user activity data requires Microsoft 365 administrators to enable this capability within the Reports section.

Another way to protect activity data is to limit the number of administrators who have access to activity reports. Users with the following roles have access to reports:

  • Global Office 365 administrators.
  • Teams administrators.
  • Global readers (read-only administrators).

To keep Teams user activities from being misused, Microsoft recommends that customers using Teams to track activity limit the number of administrators within these user roles to a trusted few.

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