Understanding the Idle Status in Microsoft Teams, Slack and other messaging applications
The 'idle' status in collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack is triggered when users remain inactive for a predefined period. This feature, while designed to reflect a user's lack of interaction, often prompts questions about its significance and implications, particularly in the eyes of employers.
Why do Microsoft Teams and Slack go on idle/away status?
The away/idle status primarily occurs due to inactivity on the platform. It's an automated function aimed at indicating that the user might not be actively engaged or available for immediate interaction. Factors such as lack of mouse or keyboard activity or minimal interaction with the platform for a specific duration contribute to this status change.
Why is this significant and how can it impact me?
Employers view the idle status as a potential indicator of employee productivity and engagement. With the work from home trend, employers lack the visual indicators of employees working in an office. An employee consistently displaying an idle status might raise concerns about their availability, involvement in ongoing tasks, or responsiveness to communication within the team. Employers might perceive prolonged idle status as indicative of reduced productivity or disengagement, potentially impacting how an employee's contributions are evaluated.
The idle status, when consistently displayed, can inadvertently affect how an employee's productivity is perceived. Employers may interpret frequent or extended idle moments as indicative of decreased work output or lack of active participation. This perception, although not always accurate, might influence evaluations of an employee's dedication or efficiency within the team.
How can I keep my status active, available and green all the time?
To combat negative perceptions associated with idle status, we can approach it in a few ways
- Result-Oriented Approach: Employers can focus on the quality and timeliness of deliverables rather than solely relying on online presence as a measure of productivity.
- Manual Activity: In the scenario where your employers is unable to accept employee output as a measurement of productivity, you have to manually keep your status active
- Software tools: Alternatively, if you want to save some of your own time and energy, you can deal with it through automation with software
Convincing employers to shift their focus from messaging app availability status to employee output as a productivity measurement involves highlighting the limitations of solely relying on online presence. Emphasizing the following points can help drive this shift:
Firstly, stress the multifaceted nature of productivity. Explain that while online presence offers some insight into availability, it doesn't comprehensively reflect an employee's contributions or efficiency. Share examples of how an employee's offline work or focused project time might not manifest in constant online activity but results in substantial outputs.
Secondly, propose a holistic approach to measuring productivity. Encourage employers to consider a blend of factors—quality and timeliness of deliverables, successful project completions, client satisfaction, and teamwork—rather than solely relying on online status. Highlight that a responsive online status doesn’t necessarily equate to high productivity or quality work output.
Lastly, showcase the potential benefits of focusing on output-based assessment. Explain how this approach can foster a more results-oriented culture, where employees are empowered to prioritize tasks based on impact and quality rather than staying constantly online to meet an arbitrary visibility standard. Present case studies or success stories that illustrate how this shift has led to improved employee morale, creativity, and overall team productivity.
Failing that, we have to move onto tricking the system for optics on productivity.
Automating Activity to keep status always available
Method 1: Physical Mouse Jiggler
A tried and true method of buying a physical mouse jiggler to keep your mouse constantly moving. While mouse jigglers may not be able to trick the smarter time tracking softwares like Time Doctor or Hubstaff, messaging applications simply tracks activity and a jiggler should suffice. Although this basic jiggler works, many often find it easy to break and a bit loud and annoying to have it constantly run in the background while you try to do something else.
Method 2: Paperclip/Pen Hack
It doesn't necessarily have to be a paperclip or pen, but those are just the most common items available for employees at home. Simply stick it between keys at an angle and have one key constantly pressed. This should keep your status as available as your keyboard is always being pressed. Make sure to open some sort of dummy document so the keypresses won't be accidentally sent to somebody or worse, overwriting an important document.
Method 3: Using automation software
Although the 2 approaches above can be easily setup, there are certain downsides to each that we've mentioned. One of the most effective ways to trick messaging app statuses is to simply use software automation like LazyWork.
LazyWork was built for more complex time tracking softwares, but it can be used effectively to combat idling issues with encountered from Microsoft Teams, Slack and other messaging tools. LazyWork has automation for multiple computer interaction such as mouse movement, keyboard input automation and browser tabbing.
With LazyWork, one can effectively trick the applications into thinking the client is active all the time, which prevents micromanaging employers from noticing idle status triggering. LazyWork was built for use cases where employees are highly efficient and performant, but lack autonomy from their employers to take a well needed break or work at time intervals that best suit their needs.
LazyWork provides a free, no obligation 7 day trial. Try it out and see how it can help your daily workflow and reduce the stress of keeping your active status on messaging apps!
The idle status in Microsoft Teams and Slack can inadvertently impact how an employee's productivity is viewed by employers. However, it's crucial to recognize that occasional idle moments don't always equate to reduced productivity. Employers and employees must engage in open communication, focus on task accomplishments, and maintain transparency to ensure that the idle status does not unfairly influence productivity assessments.
LazyWork can help employees effectively fight against employers that uses idle status to track performance and help employees plan their work days however they see fit.