I might be overthinking …
I once worked in a company that used “Skype for Business” as the main communication tool. It was terrible and anxiety inducing because of how “well” the application tracks users’ statuses.
When your laptop is turned on and you’re clicking or typing away, Skype shows you as “Available”.
When your laptop goes to sleep mode or lock screen mode, Skype shows you as “Inactive”. Not only that, but Skype also displays how long you’ve been inactive for. For example: “Inactive — 5 mins” or “Inactive — 1 hour”.
When you’re in a meeting (using Skype), Skype shows you as “Busy — In a conference call”.
When your laptop is shut down, Skype shows you as “Offline”. And just like the inactive status, how long you’ve been “gone” for is also displayed. For example: “Offline — 2 days”.
Due to the Skype status, I grew anxious from making sure that my status was “Available” all the time during official working hours (when working from home). Sometimes, even when I’m going to the washroom, I would worry that my laptop would go into lock screen mode and I would appear “Inactive”. Since I could view all colleagues’ Skype status in my contacts list anytime, I couldn’t help but think that people were also watching me 24/7, which made me very uncomfortable.
I am certain that it’s not just me who felt that way. There was once when I arranged a meeting with a friend in the office, as I wanted her to share more about her job as a full-time employee. Despite having agreed on a time and venue via text, she “went the extra mile” to send a calendar invite to our company email addresses. This way, after we both accepted the invite, our Skype status would appear as “Busy — In a conference call” during our meeting. I think subconsciously, she was also worried that her supervisor or teammates would question why she was not at her desk or on her laptop during that hour or so. The omnipresent feeling of being watched really makes one feel pretty uneasy.
Besides that, Skype statuses also affected when I would text my co-workers. For example, my supervisor was often seen “Busy” as she was quite swarmed with meetings. I often questioned if I should text her while she was occupied with something else. And yet, when she was “Available”, I would think to myself that she deserves a break, and I shouldn’t disturb her peace? On some days, texting her felt like a strategic game that called for good timing. And yes, I’m probably overthinking.
Enough of all these 😕 So, the next time I see a company using “Skype for Business”, it’s a red flag for me…
Thank you for reading!