THIS MONTH’S FEATURE: Microsoft Teams – Statuses

In both remote and hybrid work environments, it is sometimes difficult to know a person’s availability. This makes it challenging to collaborate on tasks or get answers to questions when you need them.

Microsoft Teams provides a feature to help your team easily and clearly communicate their availability with each other. This feature is known as a “status”. Statuses eliminate confusion and miscommunication around a team member’s availability.

Let’s take closer look at few specific benefits to using statuses in Teams:

Improved communication – Setting a status in Teams helps team members communicate their availability to others. For example, if someone is preparing for an important meeting and needs to focus without interruption, they can set their status to “Busy” or “Do Not Disturb” (which will silence message notifications). When someone is in a Teams meeting, the status will conveniently change to “Busy” automatically to let your colleagues know you are unavailable and probably won’t be able to provide an immediate response to a message. If nothing else, statuses provide useful context for why someone may be slow to respond to a message or why they may not be able to take a call.

Better time management – Teams statuses can help users manage their time more effectively. For example, if a team member keeps getting interrupted and can’t seem finish their expense reports, they could set their status to “Do Not Disturb” with an accompanying status message that says, “Working on expense reports”. This allows the team member to finish their time-sensitive task without distraction while communicating to their colleagues exactly why they aren’t immediately available.

Enhanced team collaboration – Statuses can also help promote collaboration within teams. For instance, if someone sets their status to “Available,” it can encourage others to reach out and collaborate on tasks. Similarly, if someone sets their status to “Do Not Disturb,” it can signal to others that they are in the middle of an important task and should not be interrupted. This can help prevent unnecessary interruptions and foster a more productive work environment.

Increased productivity – Statuses provide transparency that increases efficiency. For example, if a team member sets an Out of Office message in Outlook, Teams will automatically adopt this as a status, which can prevent unnecessary messages being sent to them. This saves time for both the sender and the recipient (the sender isn’t waiting around for a delayed answer and the recipient won’t have to take time finding out if they still need to respond upon returning). Similarly, by setting a “Do Not Disturb” or “Busy” status for a meeting, team members can avoid multitasking and give their full attention to that meeting, which can lead to more productive discussions and better results.

So, how do you actually update a status? It’s so easy! 1. Click on your profile icon in the top corner of Teams 2. From the dropdown, you’ll see “Available” and “Set status message” a. Select “Available” to reveal all the options of statuses you can select (and even select the duration of the status before it returns to “Available”) b. Select “Set status message” to type a custom message to coincide with your status (i.e., “Lunch, “Focus time”, “Staff meeting”, etc.)

If you are using Teams – but not utilizing statuses – you are missing out on a very effective feature of the program! If you are a leader or manager in your organization, foster greater communication, collaboration, and efficiency by promoting a company culture that utilizes statuses in Microsoft Teams. You’ll be glad that you did!

Check out this month’s video!