Sense a presence in the workforce

Many organisations revolve around a communication tool like Microsoft Teams. Not only do they form the backbone of meetings in hybrid and remote working, but also one-to-one chats and calls. Microsoft Teams has a presence indicator for each user so that you can show your colleagues when you are available or do not wish to be interrupted. This is populated automatically when you are in a teams meeting or have an appointment in your calendar, however there isn’t an awareness of your status outside of this bubble.

My new app (Occupied) attempts to improve this by adding in two additional sources to more accurately reflect your availability. Firstly it works with the hands-free phone system in Windows, used by Phone Link and Thy Phone, and will show you as busy whenever you are on a phone call. It fully respects your privacy – the app has no knowledge of the nature of the call, just when a call is active. The app cannot access your call logs and has no idea whether you are making a call on a personal or work mobile.

The second input comes from the new focus sessions support in Windows 11. If you are running Windows 11 22H2 or later you’ll be marked as “Do Not Disturb” in Teams for the duration of the session. In either case you can always override your availability and that takes precedence over an app generated status.

Screenshot of the Occupied sign-in screen.

The app is a small utility which sits in your system tray and once you’ve linked it to your work account you can forget about it and it will sit in the background and work its magic. I’m hoping that it provides a useful automation which will help Microsoft Teams users respect each other’s working styles without adding any additional effort for the user.

The app is now available in the Microsoft Store for 99p (or your local equivalent). I’m interested in feedback on how useful people find this and other ways I can provide a more holistic Microsoft Teams presence experience.

By Peter Foot

Microsoft Windows Development MVP