Etiquette doesn’t only mean what words to use on an invitation or which fork to use at dinner; as our society evolves, so does the etiquette that guides us. Digital etiquette is one of the most recent changes, and there are some basic rules specific to Microsoft Teams for how to stay polite and use functionality to its full potential.
So grab a coffee and spend five minutes brushing up on your Teams etiquette - no salad fork required.
Keep it informal – but professional
Teams is generally used for internal communication, which means that a more informal tone is usual and expected. Informal doesn’t mean unprofessional, though, so make sure that you know your audience. Stay on the more formal side if you’re not sure – don’t forget that this is a work environment, no matter how much it might look like a personal social media.
Use @ mentions
@ mentions are a great way of getting the attention of your colleagues when you have something important or particularly interesting to share. Just make sure you’re not using it too much – notifications which started off as useful can quickly just become annoying when you get too many.
Threaded conversations are a way of keeping conversations organised so they’re easier to find; instead of starting a new post each time, keep your replies on the initial post to keep interactions about the same topic in one place.
The availability status on Teams gives you a great idea of the best time to get in touch with colleagues; the coloured dot on their profile picture (or default initials) can show you if they’re available (a green dot), in a call or busy (a red dot) or away from their computer (a yellow dot). Just because they’re showing as ‘available’, though, don’t expect an instant reply; in exactly the same way as being in the office, not being in a meeting doesn’t mean that they’re not busy. Make sure you’re respecting office hours, too – just because someone’s available outside of their working hours, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re available for an immediate reply.
You can also help colleagues manage their expectations of how quickly you’ll respond to them by keeping your own status up to date. Although meetings and calls are automatically reflected in your status, as well as being ‘away’ when you’ve been inactive for five minutes, you can also set your status to ‘Do Not Disturb’, ‘Busy’ or ‘Be Right Back/Away’ to protect your breaks or productive working time.
Keep your posts up to date
If you’ve asked a question or given an update, make sure you’re keeping the original post up to date – chances are, someone else in your Team will look for the same information further down the line, and by keeping your post up to date you’re helping prevent unnecessary repetition.
Be aware of how you’re writing
It’s easy for text to be misinterpreted. Something as simple as a full stop can change how your message is perceived; the finality of a full stop after ‘OK’ can change a message from a simple agreement to something far more negative. Make sure you don’t type exclusively in all capitals, either, as this is essentially the digital equivalent of shouting and lots of people find it unfriendly. Be aware, too, of the length of your messages, as something too long might not be read fully, whereas something too short might be seen as rude. Find a middle ground by considering your audience and the message you’re relaying.
Be aware of how you’re reading
Not everyone follows the same rules when it comes to digital etiquette. One person’s short and snappy is another person’s rude and impersonal. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions as you read messages and understand that tone and meaning are sometimes lost when you can’t see the other person.
Using emojis and GIFs
It’s so easy to misinterpret the tone of a message when you’re only reading words on a screen. Using emojis and GIFs are a great way of ensuring the intended meaning behind your message is clear, as well as injecting some humour and personality to your chats. Just remember to keep it professional.
Use the mute button
Particularly when you’re in large meetings, the mute button keeps unwanted background sound to a minimum. Make sure you’re on mute while you’re not speaking, but don’t forget to turn your microphone back on when you have something to say! The ‘Raise your Hand’ function in meetings helps get the attention of the Chair without having to talk over other people.
Turn the camera on
It might not be for everyone, but try not to be camera shy when it comes to Teams meetings. Seeing other people is great not only for gauging reactions and making sure everyone’s understood you, but also for social interactions. Seeing colleagues during meetings has been proven to help build relationships; in one study, 98% of users said that video conferencing has helped them build relationships inside and outside their companies.
Keep it focused
Teams meetings need an agenda as much as a face to face meeting. Keep your aims and objectives clear and concise to keep your meeting on track. Share the agenda where necessary, using the document share functionality on Teams; this helps all attendees understand the purpose of the meeting.
Teams etiquette is still new and developing, so there will be changes and additions as we learn more about the platform and become more familiar with working online and remotely. Think we’ve missed anything? Why not get in touch – we’d love to hear about your experiences and what you’d consider essential when it comes to staying polite, productive, and professional when using Teams.
For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.