I have been using teams for sometime now and I usually check the status of people on their profile photo displayed. My observation is that the two status' 'Away' and 'Be Right Back' are of same color and icon. Should it be this way? Isnt it confusing the user on the timing of Away and BRB mean.

Usually BRB refers to temporarily being away ! and Away mean going away for long time.

Any one can tell or is aware of what is the rationale behind it?

3 Answers 3


Good question - I looked into it a bit and I can't find anything super convincing. My theory is that they are trying to cater to both the sender and the receiver:

  • Some people might want to specifically communicate that they are not, you know, away, but like just getting a coffee, so they are right back. Thus, two similar-ish option so everyone feels like they can express themselves.
  • But then as someone who writes that person a message (or tries to call) you might not really care if they are away or right back (what would that even mean to you, it's not like it tells you when they are going to be back). Thus, it appears with the same icon and color.

Then again, Teams is not necessarily known for its UX, to put it mildly - so design by committee or weird development leftovers might be the reason as well...

  • 1
    The assumptions are convincing. Although ! The last sentence made things to assume more obvious. 'Teams is not necessarily known for its UX' Oct 7, 2022 at 1:41

I think MS Teams is clustering statuses into green/yellow/red indicators:

  • Green: You can send something to me
  • Yellow: You can send something to me, but I might not get it right away
  • Red: You shouldn't send something to me right now (Busy, Do Not Disturb)

There are also white indicators like Offline, Away from Work and No Longer With the Organization - in other words, replies will go to an empty space.

Now imagine if Teams and Outlook used the same colors as indicators... 🤔


When a user is away (that is, any variation on busy/away/brb/dnd), they will often become distracted by something and stay away for longer than they intended. A good design should afford for such noise, and I think for this reason Teams groups similar statuses by the same color.

This affords for easier scanning and helps to roughly estimate when a message may be seen.

  • 1
    Looks like this can be one of the considerations for such a design. Oct 7, 2022 at 1:34

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