An etiquette guide for Office 365

Working with many customers over the years and speaking with many end users I’ve found that everybody uses technology differently.

This is a no-brainer really, but part of the issue is that often people aren’t really shown how to use the technology and ultimately this is a failure of change management in organisations.

I have found that small frustrations can arise from discrepancies in how people do things within the Microsoft productivity stack. Little things like whether or not someone puts a description in a meeting invite, sending an email instead of cancelling an occurrence of a recurring appointment, short emails, long/wordy emails, using emails instead of instant messages, not responding to emails or Yammer posts, CC’ing everyone under the sun in email conversations, writing too much via IM when voice would be faster, REPLY ALL (!!!!), IM’ing people immediately after they come online when you have tagged them for status changes, and on and on and on.

We all have different ways of doing things, and there’s not necessarily one right way of doing them. However, we do all live in the same digital world so it’s important to ensure that we maintain a level of etiquette – similar to what we would expect in the real world.

Myself and fellow Office 365 MVP Paul Woods have taken it upon ourselves to write the “Office 365 Good Etiquette Guide” – an eBook available to everyone for free. Why? Because we’re nice guys who feel that if there’s an etiquette guide then maybe there will be a few less frustrations out there.

Our intent is to make the guide available by the end of August 2016, but here’s the kicker – instead of us simply telling you our opinions and viewpoints we’re opening it up for everyone to provide their input and in exchange we’ll give you a thank-you credit in the book. All you need to do is email your suggestions to ideas[at] and that’s it! Send as many as you like.

As the technology evolves and new features or integrations come along this means that behaviours may need to change as well – so where possible we will endeavour to update the guide and keep adding content.

We look forward to your input!

Skype for Business presence in the real world

The colours that Skype for Business (formerly Lync) uses to denote presence are fairly common amongst most instant messaging platforms and applications.

This particular blog post covers what those presence colours mean in the real world, not what they actually represent. J

What users see next to your presence depends on whether they are internal or external. For example in Skype for Business when a user is busy, other internal users will see one of 4 options:

Status Description
Busy Based on the Outlook calendar status – if it has an appointment then the Skype presence automatically changes to match.
In a call When the user is in a Skype for Business call, either to another Skype for Business user or via PSTN.
In a meeting When the user is scheduled to be in a Skype for Business meeting (but actually isn’t), or if scheduled for a meeting with multiple people (that isn’t using Skype for Business).
In a conference call When actually participating in a Skype for Business meeting.

These are relatively straight forward. External users however will see just your status as Busy.

Here’s my breakdown of the general Skype for Business presence status, and what it means to people seeing that status:

Status External user interpretation
Available “Clearly you’re not doing anything, so let’s talk.”
Busy “I can see you’re busy, but I’m going to contact you anyway.”

Usually this is broached by the person asking the person with the busy presence “Hey, can you IM?”

Do not disturb This is like standing at a window waving for attention, the equivalent of “hey, hey, hey, do you see me? Can you talk?”

Or alternatively “I’ll just call their mobile phone.”

Away “How are they not in front of their computer right now? It’s business hours”?

Or “Geez that’s a long lunch break!”

Offline This one comes down to how important you think you are. When a user is offline you have the choice to:

  • Send them an email and they will respond when they get to it
  • Tag them for status change so you can get right up in their face the moment they come online
  • Call them now, this cannot wait!