Leave me alone!!! (using Lync to NOT communicate)

Leave me alone!!! (using Lync to NOT communicate)

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Ubiquitous connectivity and communication sources are a blessing and a curse.  It is amazing that I can speak with my co-worker in Germany and get an answer as if he were sitting right next to me.  On the flip side of the coin, my co-workers (and family, and friends) all over the world (or in the cube right behind me) can bug me ask me important questions at a whim.

While I love chatting with folks, sometimes I really need to stop the interruptions so that I can get some work done.

Fortunately, as I use Lync, there are a few features that make it easy to manage who can contact you, and when.  Nobody I speak to seems to know these features are available, so I thought I’d share :).

Do Not Disturb

By default, Lync dynamically updates your status based on your calendar.  If you are in a meeting, your status will turn red and display “In a Meeting”.  If you are away from the computer for 5 minutes, Lync will display “Away”.  If you are at your computer and not in a meeting, Lync will show you as “Available”, which is a magnet for interruptions.

You can manually change your status to “Busy” or “Off Work” or “Away”, but know that Lync will keep this status until you manually choose “Reset Status”.  Keep this in mind before you set your status to “Away” and leave it that way for 3 weeks.  Your boss may wonder why she is paying you ;)

Anyhoo… There is an oft-overlooked and very powerful option that you can choose.  “Do Not Disturb”


When this is selected, you can still IM people, but THEY CANNOT DISTURB YOU.  They get the following message when they try.  If they persist and send, Lync will inform them that the message was not sent.


However… what if you want a few select people (like your boss!) to be able to IM you, while blocking out the rest of the world?  Enter unknown-feature part deux:

Privacy Relationships

You can right-click on any contact in your Lync list, and change your privacy relationship.  By default, Lync works some magic to figure out your relationship to the person, and grants different rights to that person.  Most of your co-workers should be “Colleagues” by default.  They will be able to see that you are IN a meeting, but not the details of the meeting.  They can also not interrupt your Do Not Disturb. 

The “Workgroup” relationship should be reserved for those that you really trust.  They can see your meeting titles and can choose to interrupt your Do Not Disturb status.  Use this status sparingly.

If you somehow have your ex-girlfriend as a contact in Lync, and they keep contacting you in the middle of the day to reminisce about the days when you were together… you can even use the “Blocked Contacts” relationship.  They won’t be able to see your status or contact you.


A pretty table that lays out what a person in each privacy relationship can see (which I shamelessly copied from the Control access to your presence information article on the Office Site) follows :)

Presence Information External Contacts Colleagues Workgroup Friends and Family
Presence Status
Display Name
Email Address
Title *
Work Phone *  
Mobile Phone *    
Home Phone *      
Other Phone      
Company *
Office *
SharePoint Site *
Meeting Location #      
Meeting Subject #      
Free Busy  
Working Hours  
Location #  
Notes (Out-of-Office Note)  
Notes (Personal)  
Last Active  
Personal Photo Web Address
  • Presence information items with an asterisk (*) beside them indicates that if these attributes are defined in the company’s directory service, they are visible to all contacts in your organization, regardless of privacy relationship. They are also visible to external contacts outside your organization (if configured and recognized by your organization’s network).
  • Presence information items with a pound sign (#) beside them are enabled by default.
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