We brought a new network engineer on board this week. I didn't give him “the tour,” but apparently he breezed through all of it and got to work right away.

Then he had a question about OCS.

He just wanted to know who to add to Office Communicator's contact list. Easy answer. But this pointed out something important regarding new employees. He already knew how OCS worked technically; he just wanted to know our policies around it.

What are the Rules for Using OCS Around Here?

That sparked a little discussion (and this blog post). Do we have any rules in place for how we use OCS? If so, what are they? How did they come about?

Turns out we did have several rules in place. They came into existence by the whim of a nutty systems administrator who journeyed to the Forbidden Server Room–

Okay, we just used common sense when it comes to business communication.

4 General Rules for OCS Use

These are 4 of the rules we came up with. I included questions our newest employee asked.

Who Do I Add to My Contact List? Why?
Add everyone you'll communicate with regularly. Use Contact List Groups or Access Levels to group people by priority and/or proximity to you. My first group is “Team,” direct co-workers in the same department. Another group is “Company,” which holds people I don't regularly talk to, but who need to talk to me now & then.

How Often Should I Update My Status (Presence)?
Rule of thumb for us: Update Presence once a day or when you change projects, whichever is more frequent. Above all, keep it up-to-date. Avoid what happens when you don't change your Presence status.

When Is it Okay to IM People?
Depends on the severity and length of the request you have. If you have a problem that can be answered quickly, then go for IM. If the problem is more extensive, and you may need input from more than one person, then use email.

Should I Use OCS to Answer the Phone?
Yes. Our phone system runs through OCS first and cellphones second (OCS is set to auto-forward). So we answer phones via OCS whenever possible. That's what the VoIP is there for,after all.

Does your company use OCS 2007? What are your rules concerning office use? Do you have different rules than ours? Let us know in the comments.

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