Using virtual backgrounds on Microsoft Teams is an easy way to maintain privacy and reduce distractions on your video calls. If you’ve been using Teams, then you might have figured out how to add your own custom image as a virtual background on video meetings or calls.

These backgrounds are often generic images, doing nothing more than hiding what is behind you in your workspace. There is an added edge that comes with your team having the same background or branding when taking video calls. Shared backgrounds can give your team one less thing to worry about when hopping on video with others.

The good news is that Microsoft is previewing a feature to enable company-wide backgrounds on Microsoft Teams. This new preview feature allows Teams admins to add backgrounds that users across your organization can share and use. In the following paragraphs we’ll dive into some quick hitters on how to apply and use organization-wide Microsoft Teams Virtual Backgrounds.

Setting Up Microsoft Teams Org-Wide Virtual Backgrounds

The Org-Wide Backgrounds features allows Teams users to access a shared set of virtual backgrounds to use on video calls. These virtual backgrounds are configured by a Teams administrator, making it easy to make quick updates across the organization.

To check out Org-Wide Microsoft Teams Virtual Backgrounds, head over to the Teams Admin Center, and under the MEETINGS heading, go to “Meeting Policies”, then click “Customize Meeting Images” in the upper right. The background images need to be either PNG or JPG files, no smaller than 360x360px and no longer than 2048x2048px.

"Customize meeting images" settings for Microsoft Teams Virtual Backgrounds
Figure 1 – Microsoft Teams Virtual Background Settings

What Licensing Do You Need?

Organization-wide virtual backgrounds in preview are not included out of the box with Microsoft Teams. This feature will require the Advanced Communications license.

Advanced Communications licenses include features for meetings customizations, along with live event capabilities. This license supports live events up to 20,000 participants and allows an organization to customize and brand their meeting lobbies.

Anyone in your organization who wants to use an org-wide background will need to have an Advanced Communications license. There is also a 60-day trial of Advanced Communications available.

Limitations and Workarounds

This is a nifty feature, but I am not feeling the value of the Advanced Communication license at $12/user/month. Also, this license is not part of any of the M365 license bundles. This means that this license would be an add-on for any Office or Microsoft 365 license level.

One workaround to this licensing issue is creating a SharePoint document library to hold your team’s virtual background library. This document library can be linked from your SharePoint intranet home page and synced on the desktops of individual team members.

A document library like this can be read-only to your team, with limited edit rights to those who your teams’ virtual backgrounds. On many teams, the owner of these backgrounds may be an IT admin or marketing leader.

Having a SharePoint Online intranet can make it easy to access this shared document library for virtual backgrounds. If you need help enabling org-wide backgrounds within Microsoft Teams, or want help building a SharePoint intranet to house your shared virtual background, reach out to our team to set up an appointment.