Teams Offline Status Allows Users to Appear Invisible

New Presence Status Coming in October 2020

Office 365 notification MC223441 issued on 3 October brings the earthshattering news that Teams is adding the ability for users to mark their status as Offline. As explained in Microsoft 365 roadmap item 68727, this delivers the benefit that users “have full access to Teams while signaling to colleagues that they are unavailable.” Microsoft says that the feature will roll out in mid-October and will be complete by the end of the month.

Setting Offline Status

There’s not much to be said in terms of implementation. The new option appears at the bottom of the list of other status values (Figure 1). You can also set your status to Offline by typing /Offline into the command box.

Setting a Teams presence status to Offline
Figure 1: Setting a Teams presence status to Offline

In passing, notice the Teams admin center link in my settings menu. I haven’t seen this before but it’s a simple, good idea to put a link here to allow people who manage Teams for a tenant to have fast access to the admin center. The link doesn’t show up unless your account possesses a role which allows access to the Teams admin center, like global administrator or Teams service administrator.

How Offline Status Shows Up

Once set, offline status is shown as a white circle with a grey edge (Figure 2). It’s the same visual indicator shown when Teams determines that someone is offline because they aren’t signed in rather than just hiding behind the status for their own reasons, like getting some peace from the demands of pesky coworkers.

How Offline presence status appears in Teams
Figure 2: How Offline presence status appears in Teams

Offline and Do Not Disturb

Some might argue that the existing Do Not Disturb (dnd) status was quite sufficient to warn coworkers that they are busy and unavailable. The rebuttal is that when others see a do not disturb status, it’s a sign that although you are unavailable right now, some hope exists that you might soon become available. Setting your status to Offline puts you into a state where (hopefully) coworkers won’t even bother trying to get in touch. They’ll probably send email instead and maybe be bemused when they don’t receive an out of office notification.

Setting your presence status to Offline allow pop-up notifications for chat messages sent by other users. Use Do not disturb if you want to suppress these messages and only allow notifications people on your priority access list.

Skype Status

Interestingly, Skype consumer supports both Invisible and Offline statuses. In the consumer world, Invisible is like Offline for Teams while Offline in Skype is really offline, which is the same approach taken by Skype for Business Online. Confused? It’ll all be clear when everyone is on Teams…

This is an example of a change that translates into exactly one sentence in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. But if you don’t keep an eye on the small details, you’ll miss out on the really important material.

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