Etiquette and Guidance

Instant Message Etiquette

Skype for Business Instant Messaging (IM) provides an optional, usually informal, method of communication.


When contacting university staff please continue to use established communications methods as these enable staff to manage workloads effectively. i.e.

  • Email and office hours for academic staff
  • Email, web-forms and phone for student services

Initiating IM conversations

  • Before sending an IM, check the person's presence status.

 Available- Available

Busy - Busy

 Do Not Disturbe- Do Not Disturb

Away -Away

contact might be available for a conversation

don’t send a message to the contact unless it's urgent.

all messages are bounced unless you are a trusted member of your contact's  workgroup.  


the person is signed in to Lync but away from their computer - wait for them to be available

  • It’s helpful to ask if they are free and state the topic eg. “Are you free to take a question about our meeting tommorrow?”.
  • Don’t take offence if your contact doesn't respond immediately.  Assume they will respond if/when they are free and avoid messaging them repeatedly when you don’t get a response.
  • If you receive a short response (for example, "in a meeting - talk later"), do not be offended - they may not have time to write a lengthy reply.  

Freedom on Information, Data Protection

As Skype for Business is a communication tool provided by the University you need to be sensible about how it is used:

  • IM should be handled in the same way as other Social Media channels – you should avoid writing anything that would be considered defamatory, offensive or breaches privacy.  See Guidance for Social Media Channels.  Be aware that anything that you write in an IM relating to University business can be saved by any parties in the conversation. 
  • IM conversations that are saved in your Outlook folder will be subject to disclosure under Freedom of Information or Data Protection Act.
  • If IM is used to provide advice to students the member of staff should handle this in the same manner as other guidance meetings: i.e. take notes, and provide a summary by email. 

Passwords and Security

  • Your Skype for Business username and password is authenticated by Newcastle University and is not passed to Microsoft.
  • Be aware that the use of 3rd party applications on Skype for Business may create security vulnerabilities. 

Leave Feedback