Skype Ettiquette

Skype is one of those tools I have had installed but rarely used. Over the past few weeks I seem to have been using it nearly everyday; I don’t know what happened but all of a sudden it’s become more popular with the people I work with.

Whether it’s a simple chat message (instead of the email or “walk down the corridor and open my door”) or a full hour-long conversation, it’s become my new best friend. Or could be my new best friend.

The thing is;

  • I can put an email to one side and deal with it when I have finished whatever it is I’m doing at the moment.
  • I can filter my phone calls if I think the call may take too long and distract me from my current task.
  • I can have a quick chat in my office but you can clearly see I’m busy and, more often than not, volunteer to come back when I’m not so busy.

But with Skype;

  • You can see if I’m online and contact me. It’s hard to ignore that constant ‘bing’ing coming through the speakers.
  • You can see I’ve put myself as ‘away’ but everybody knows this means leave me alone but still sends the call or message through.

So, is there an etiquette to using Skype, for both parties? Well, thankfully the folks over at TechCrunch have come up with these suggestions;

It’s not a conversation until both sides are engaged.

“The best way to start a Skype conversation is to message something like “are you free?” If I respond then we’re all set. If not, don’t take it personally. And don’t start firing off whatever you want to say anyway. Instant messaging is both synchronous and asynchronous.”

Don’t abuse the ‘Enter’ button.

“The default Skype settings are lots of notification messages all the time. Every time you hit enter it beeps my computer. That’s really annoying. Get whole sentences, paragraphs even, down in the box before you hit enter. People will appreciate it.”

Don’t just jump into a phone call.

“It’s polite to send a chat message first saying “online? time for a quick Skype call?” It’s annoying when the Skype phone starts ringing randomly.”

Don’t assume confidentiality.

“The worst thing I ever did was Skype message someone, in a rush, to confirm a story. And it turns out that poor person was using his laptop to give a presentation to a group of co-workers. And my Skype message popped up on the screen for everyone to see.”

If in doubt, make contact first through more traditional media and then we can Skype if appropriate, and if I’m available.

Skype also have a section on Etiquette on their website – Skype Etiquette – which is fairly standard, almost like any corporate list of what not to do at work and on work computers.

A few other resources I found about etiquette include;

This video below would be really funny if it wasn’t so true. Has it happened to you (yet)? It’s worth watching in full-screen mode so you can read what is being written …