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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Sterner

Read receipts in Microsoft Teams – a good or bad feature?

Updated: May 2, 2022

After what feels like forever read receipts are finally here in Microsoft Teams. I will start with how read receipts works and end the blog post with some of my thoughts when it comes to pros and cons about this new feature.

Read receipts is exactly what it sounds like – a receipt that your message has been read by the person you sent it to. I like read receipts, but I also think it adds responsibility on organizations to make it an aid and not a burden but more about this in the end of this blog post.

Getting started and adjusting your settings

The first time you open the chat in Microsoft Teams after read receipt have been made available for you this message will appear. You will get two options:

  1. You got it which closes the message

  2. Go to settings to adjust your settings for read receipts

First time you see read receipts

Your options aren’t that big – the options are on and off. If you decide not to have read receipts no one will see if you read a message and you wont see if anyone reads your message – I guess that’s fair.

User settings for read receipts

If you want to change this later you'll find the settings under Privacy in the settings.

How does it look?

When the conditions are right, and the read receipts are available the look is quite simple – a check when the message isn’t read and otherwise a little eye.

Read receipt icon

There are some cases when you won’t get a read receipts, these are those:

  • The other person has turned off read receipt

  • You are talking to someone from another organization (but if the other person is a guest in your tenant because you invited them to a team you will have the read receipts in your chat)

  • You are writing in a team, read receipts are only for chats (if you write in a group chat everyone must have seen the message before you see the eye)

  • Your organization has turned off read receipts for the whole organization (read more about this under next section in this post)

Admin settings

This isn’t a blog for admins, but I wanted to show you the available admin settings for read receipts.

The options are user controlled (this is my general recommendation as I’m pro making your own choice), turned off for everyone or turned on for everyone.

Admin settings for read receipts

The settings for read receipts are located in the messaging policies which means you can have different policies for different groups of people if you’d like.

My grade

I like read receipts a lot, but it brings a big responsibility to organizations, both managers and co-workers for how they want to work. When I started working, I remember that the status in Skype was really important, green = I’m at work and otherwise it was bad. I actually changed my settings to never change from green as it gave me too much anxiety. I’m not sure what came first – Microsoft Teams or me feeling a bit more mature in my role as a working person but today I would say I care 0% about my status in Microsoft Teams. Going back to read receipts I think there might be an idea that message read = I need to act and answer straight away just as green status = I’m working.

Let’s look at a use case:

Before read receipts: Someone writes to me about something, I know I won’t be able to respond directly but I respond during the day. So, I leave the message and do the other things I need to do and when time is ready, I answer!

After read receipts: Someone writes to me about something, I know I won’t be able to respond directly but I will respond during the day. But as the other person can see that I’ve seen the message, but I haven’t responded it might lead to a few different things

  1. The other person is stressed/sad/angry that I’ve seen the message and haven’t responded directly and maybe writes more times to make me respond which might annoy me

  2. I feel I need to write Hey – I’ll respond in X hours which will disturb my concentration from what I’m doing

So, what I meant by “this adds responsibility to organizations, both managers and co-workers”, is that read receipts should not be an encouragement to work more and feel more stressed to produce the instant moment you read a message but it should be a helpful aid to understand if a colleague seen your message or not. But I think this is something you need to talk about with your co-workers.

When can you expect to see this in your Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft will rollout this now and it will be on as a default, so far I’ve seen it in all the tenants I’m a part of.


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