The Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Teams Etiquette
At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was joining the online meetings dressed in business or business casual attire.
As time passed by, we were lucky if we managed to get out of our pajamas. So, yes, the pandemic erased boundaries between private and professional to a certain degree.
However, it’s important to remind ourselves now and then that the people we work with are not our friends but our colleagues. That doesn’t mean there’s no more fun at the workplace. It just has to be taken with a dose of professionalism.
Pay attention to your chat tone
Whether in private or in a group channel, always remember that the textual conversation is far different than the face-to-face one. Your tone might not always translate as you imagined. Be careful when messaging colleagues you’ve never spoken to or met in person. They are less likely to understand your way of communicating, joking, or giving feedback. That’s why always read the message you’re about to send twice and rewrite (or eliminate) everything that could potentially be taken in the wrong way. Better safe than sorry!
Use emojis appropriately
Using emojis, memes, GIFs, stickers, etc., doesn’t mean you’re not being professional. It helps lighten up the chat atmosphere or even makes the communication more effective. For example, instead of replying with “ok” or “got it”, you can just use the thumbs-up emoji. However, using too many emojis can seem childish or even annoying to many people. Also, despite the same emojis being used worldwide, they can have slightly different meanings depending on your teammate’s personal, cultural, or religious background. So be careful regarding this Microsoft Teams etiquette, especially if you work in a company that hires globally.
Don’t turn off (all) notifications
While it can be really hard to focus with notification overload nowadays, turning them off completely isn’t considered good Microsoft Teams etiquette. The company chat is there to make communication among the team members faster and more efficient. If someone’s work depends on your answer, making them wait for a long time is not particularly collegial. On the other hand, consider muting group chats that don’t necessarily depend on your portion of work. This way, you will filter notifications and prioritize those that really need your attention.
Tag groups or group members only when you need a quick response
Tags, also known as @ mention, is a convenient Microsoft Teams feature to ensure everyone gets the notification or to ask or tell something to a specific person. However, tagging someone usually implies a call to action and can seem a bit bossy if not accompanied by an emoji or at least formulated in a “soft” way. Therefore, don’t mention someone unless you really need to and unless their response refers to everyone in the chat room. Otherwise, use private messaging instead.
Create new teams only when necessary
Before creating a new team, make sure it doesn’t already exist. Consider consulting other members if they agree to open another channel of communication. It might seem a bit too much at first, but remember that the work organization should be comfortable for everyone. Also, consider adding coworkers who may not directly work on a project but are included in the decision-making or feedback process. They don’t need to participate actively, but being part of the channel will give them detailed insights and speed up the decision-making process.
Make sure each channel sticks to its topic
Whether you have 3 or 33 channels, keeping each conversation where it’s supposed to be is important. Only one funny message is enough to set on fire the entire chat room. You don’t want to be a killjoy, sure. But keeping the conversations strictly related to the channel topic is of utmost importance for maintaining a professional environment, staying focused and productive, and ensuring everyone can get answers quickly once they enter the channel. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a channel only for fun where everyone can post funny comments, memes, etc.
Check (respect) your coworkers’ availability status
There’s a reason why availability status is there and why almost everyone is consistently using it. If you see that your colleague is in a meeting, or set as unavailable, don’t just assume they turned off notifications and will see your message later. Unless it’s urgent, hold off from pinging them. Instead, check if there’s anyone else who could help you out. The same goes the other way around. Set up your availability status so that your team members know if they can count on you, wait to message you, or turn to someone else.
Use the chat search feature
If we were still to use emails as the main communication channel, and you needed to find specific information, you wouldn’t just resend the email to ask the same thing all over again, would you? Instead, you would use the inbox search bar and try to dig out the email containing the info you need. The same principle should apply to company chats. Avoid repeating yourself just because it’s easier. Before you ask the same question again, try to retrace your question in chat history.
Pay attention to the video calls etiquette
Check your camera and microphone settings before you enter a video meeting. You want everyone to avoid staring at you while you try to figure out what’s not working. Stay “on mute” while others are speaking instead of making everyone hear all the noises from your home or office. Furthermore, limit visual distractions by using a blurry background. Choose a place where the light is not behind but is directed toward you so you don’t seem like a dark, speaking shadow in a meeting. Finally, make sure your internet connection is stable to avoid annoying interruptions and miscommunication.
Set the “out of office” replies
It’s generally considered a good Microsoft Teams etiquette, even in smaller companies, to set “out of office” replies for both emails and company chat, and as an availability status. People have so much on their minds, and maybe they forget that you announced taking some time off. Also, can you imagine messaging someone on the company chat and that person simply not replying? You don’t know if they’re off if something happened, if you should go ahead and ask someone else for advice, etc. Just like to set up your “out of office” message for clients and external emails, consider preparing one for your Microsoft Teams collaborators.
These are just some basic rules usually part of every Microsoft Teams etiquette. However, each company has guidelines in line with its company culture and how they organize work.
If you still need to do yours, consider writing it together with other team members and pinning it so everything can consult it when in doubt.
Jelena turned her love for storytelling and the written word into a full-time job as a B2B content writer and copywriter in the SaaS industry. She reads, dances, and explores new places in her hometown and beyond in her spare time.