Teams Quiet Hours Settings Valuable for Mobile Devices

Preserve Your Evenings and Weekends by Blocking Teams Notifications

There’s a lot of debate about preserving work-life balance these days. The advent of ubiquitous online access through powerful mobile devices has accentuated the problem to a point where it’s almost expected for people to be available all the time. With Teams, it’s not possible to stop someone calling you on a mobile phone, but it is possible to control the blizzard of notifications that can be generated by personal chats and busy channels.

Notification Settings

The notification settings in the Teams mobile clients (Figure 1) allow granular control over the notifications you want to see.

Notification settings in the Teams for iOS client
Figure 1: Notification settings in the Teams for iOS client

One of the interesting thing in the notification settings is an idea that I think came from Slack. The Teams back end knows what devices users are signed in from and uses this information to send notifications to the right place. You can select to only have notifications appear on the mobile device when you’re inactive in the Teams desktop client. This is a sensible default because if you’re active in the Teams desktop client, you really don’t need or want to see the same notifications flash up in the mobile client. However, if you move away from your desktop, Teams notices that the client is inactive and after three minutes, it will redirect notifications to the mobile client.

Quiet Hours and Days

Announced in November 2018, the Quiet Hours feature allows users to decide when notifications should appear on mobile clients. Mobile devices are a prime target for notification suppression because these are the devices that we’re most likely to be using when we should be doing other things to create a reasonable work-life balance.

Two controls are available. You can define days (like the weekend) when you want no notifications to be delivered. And for the other days, you can define quiet hours. Outside the quiet hours, Teams can deliver as many notifications as it wants (subject to the controls described above), but once the quiet hours arrive, only notifications for urgent messages (and incoming calls) will be displayed by the device.

Defining Quiet Hours in the Teams for iOS client
Figure 2: Defining Quiet Hours in the Teams for iOS client

Quiet Hours are based on the device time. As you travel and the device time changes (usually automatically by reference to the local mobile provider), Teams adjusts its notifications to obey the defined hours in the local time zone.

Teams does not synchronize notification settings across devices, so if you use the mobile client on multiple devices you’ll have to set up Quiet Hours on each define.

Quiet hours don’t apply if you are actively using the Teams mobile client. The assumption is that if you’re active, you’re available for notifications. There’s no concept of blocking notifications by defining quiet (or focus)hours while you’re working with the mobile client. And most importantly, these settings only affect Teams: you continue to receive all the notifications from Outlook, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other applications even when Teams is quiet.

Teams on Desktops

The Quiet Hours settings don’t apply to desktop clients which use whatever controls are available for notifications in the operating system. For example, if you run Teams on Windows 10 workstations, you can use the Focus assist settings (Figure 3) to stop notifications arriving. Although these settings are not as flexible as those available inside the Teams mobile clients, they do apply to all applications.

Windows Focus Assist settings
Figure 3: Windows Focus Assist settings

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