Just a few extra steps stand between you and Teams-free serenity
Back in 2018, I wrote an article about how to get peace and quiet from the Teams mobile client. I recently took a short vacation over the US Memorial Day holiday. As with many workplaces, my team is spread around the world, so I had coworkers who were still working on the US holiday, and I thought I’d have a more enjoyable break if I stayed away from email and Teams.
One solution is that I could’ve asked my IT department to just shut off my access for the weekend. That seems extreme, but it might be the best answer in certain jurisdictions (at least for some groups of employees). I figured that there might be short pockets of dead time where I might be able to check up and see if I’d missed anything important, so I didn’t want to be forcibly cut off, I just didn’t want my vacation interrupted with unnecessary alerts.
I already had set Teams to notify me of just the things I care about: @-mentions, meeting start notifications, new chats, and so on. If you haven’t already adjusted the default Teams settings, do yourself a favor and go do so now. Tailoring these settings will help reduce the degree of daily chatter you have to face.
Next, before I left work on Thursday, I set an out-of-office message. Although you can set these messages from Teams client now, I used Outlook. My hope was that seeing me marked as OOF in the Outlook and Teams clients might deflect a few messages from even being sent.
I knew I had previously set Teams “quiet hours” to cover Saturday and Sunday, but I figured that since my OOF message said I was out Friday and Monday as well, that would be sufficient. Imagine my surprise that, while waiting for a delicious, salted caramel affogato, my Apple Watch started buzzing with Teams notifications. Luckily, that didn’t slow me down from enjoying it, but I was still puzzled.
What I didn’t realize is that the Teams notification settings are per tenant. If your Teams mobile client is configured to sign into multiple tenants, you must apply the notification settings you want on each of the tenants. Although I’d set quiet hours for my work tenant, I hadn’t set them for the Office 365 for IT Pros tenant we use to work on the book, so when Tony started assigning book tasks to me, the Teams client interrupted my ice cream. The problem was easily solved by turning on quiet hours for the other tenants I’m enrolled in. Of course, I could also have just turned off notifications for the Teams app in iOS settings, since there was very little risk that I might forget to restore them when vacation ended.
There are several areas where I’d like to see Teams improve its handling of out-of-office and away-from-work scenarios. For example, the default “quiet hours” setting is from 7pm to 7am, which is awfully generous; something like 5pm to 9am might be more reasonable. It’s also reasonable to ask whether there should be a global setting for quiet hours or do-not-disturb, although there are good reasons to leave this as a tenant-level setting too. As the global workforce starts drifting towards whatever mix of in-person, remote, and hybrid work we all end up with, it’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft evolves these features to support us.
Check out this article from Steve Goodman on deciding whether to enable priority notifications in Teams.