2

Due to WFH, everyone in my team communicates on Teams which is official communication channel for our office. Most of the times my boss and because of him my subordinates as well often start any communication with personal message on the Teams "Are you online?", "Are you there?"

I might be over thinking but I feel it bit rude and disrespectful. It's normal working hour and I'm definitely there/online. I will respond to your message in a while. Messaging "Are you there?/Are you online?" as a conversation starter everytime in a day irritates me. The Teams already shows if someone is online/away/in a call, etc.

Should I discuss this with my boss and subordinates this matter? What would be the better way to ask if someone is online during work hours? Or should I just ignore this and move ahead?

10
  • 5
    In our office we mostly just dive in and ask whatever we want to ask. If the other person is there they can answer. If not, they can answer when they it's convenient. The message will still be there for them to read Jan 28 at 13:48
  • 7
    It's not a given that you are online just because it's work hours. You may be in the bathroom, or taking time out to think about a problem, or on the phone with a particularly technology-phobic client. Jan 28 at 14:24
  • If you boss is not singling you out for special treatment I suspect you should probably just treat it as a foible of theirs and ignore it. Jan 28 at 15:19
  • 7
    Send them to NoHello.com and improve both your lives!
    – AakashM
    Jan 28 at 15:43
  • 5
    It doesn't matter if your boss is "correct" or not - many bosses do many things that are not correct. A better question would be what you should do about this habit of your boss, that irritates you. fwiw my answer to that would be "nothing" because it's a minor irritation. Jan 28 at 18:40

4 Answers 4

11

Should I discuss this with my boss and subordinates this matter?

No

What should be the better way to ask if someone is online during work hours?

What's wrong with the current way ? How would you start a conversation in person ? Maybe "hey Alice, do you have a minute" ? I've seen people just go with "Hi Bob", and then wait for a reply.

Or should I just ignore this and move ahead?

yes

6
  • Majority of my coworkers just go "hi nightsurfer" and wait for a response. To keep in mind as well, Teams shows "Online" for a surprising number of minutes of inactivity before "Away" is shown. Asking "hey are you free?" is absolutely fine, and there's nothing rude about it. Jan 28 at 13:53
  • 5
    I work in a global company, and I need to message people in the UK, India, etc, from EST. If they have no status, or are hiding offline, that doesn't negate my need for something. I'll message them anyway, and wait for a response when they're available. Chat status' mean very little to me lol. Jan 28 at 15:15
  • 2
    Chat status can mean whether the chat app is in the foreground, or it can mean that I didn't close the lid on my laptop. It doesn't answer the question "will I answer if you try to connect to me through chat, and am I working".
    – gnasher729
    Jan 28 at 18:58
  • 4
    People that just message "Hi, Seth" and leave it there are the bane of my existence. Please be up front about what you want. Instant messages are inherently asynchronous. If we need to have a conversation, say so, so I can respond truthfully on whether I have time for one right now - "Hi, Seth, do you have a few minutes to chat?" "No, I'm about to go into a meeting. Can we chat in an hour?"
    – Seth R
    Jan 28 at 19:58
  • 5
    @SethR nohello.net Jan 28 at 21:41
6

Should I discuss this with my boss and subordinates this matter? What should be the better way to ask if someone is online during work hours? Or should I just ignore this and move ahead?

Just ignore it and move forward. If you need help from someone, just ask your question. There is no need to ask if they are available. If they are not available they will either not respond or tell you that they are not available.

Alternatively, if someone opens a conversation with you asking if you are "online/there", and you are indeed available just reply with "How can I help you?".

2

I will offer a different perspective. The type of message you're describing, essentially a "hello", is perhaps not rude but certainly inefficient. The person contacting you will have to wait for you to come online, upon which you will respond, and if they happen to still be online at that time, they will ask the question they were meaning to ask all along, which you will then answer (if you're still online!).

If the two of you don't coincide in being online, this whole procedure can take up to a few hours, for what is likely to be a single question. A much better way would be to put the question in the original message.

Luckily, you're not the only one that is annoyed by this, and there are several resources explaining this already, such as the No hello club. Whenever someone opens with a message like this, I just send back this link with a wink / smiley face and then immediately follow up with "sure, what's up?". Usually the next time this person contacts me, they will go straight to the point.

1
  • Too many online conversations seem to have the subtext of “I'm going to interrupt you, and then force you to do nothing productive for several minutes while you watch me type in a long message, line by line.” It's so unnecessary!
    – gidds
    Jan 29 at 22:30
1

It's unreasonable to insist that others contact you in a way to your liking. Will you "educate" everyone in the company, from the janitor to the CEO, on what that is, in perpetuity? Of course not.

Let it GO.

People use "are you there", or "hi, Bob" to avoid typing a load of text into the messenger when there's actually no one else on the other end. They send a short message, and wait for a reply before proceeding.

Sure, Teams has the "away" indicator as do other systems such as Slack. But the way the indicators work is inconsistent across the messaging apps. And I'm certain that very few work-at-home folks actually change these indicators each time they need to step away for a restroom break, get a cup of coffee, step out of the house, or otherwise. So for a co-worker needing something immediately, it's just easier to figure out if there's a body on the other end of the messaging app before diving into what may end up being a one-sided conversation.

1
  • Except if they type a bunch of text into a message, that text will be there whenever the person looks at their messages. It doesn't matter whether it's right now or after they get back from the bathroom.
    – DaveG
    Jan 28 at 22:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .