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Wake Forest University

Google Workspace for work/life balance: out of office, working hours, scheduled send

Modified on: Fri, May 10, 2024 10:34 AM

Setting "out of office" in Google Calendar allows your colleagues to be informed of your personal and other leave before they hit send in Gmail (e.g. they see a yellow notification in the Gmail compose window) and they can choose to schedule their email messages to be delivered when you are back in the office. By doing so, they can be mindful of your digital wellbeing and can help to avoid the focus-pulling of alerts and pings one typically receives throughout a work day. Follow the below instructions to set up your own Out of Office settings in Google Calendar. Note, Faculty and staff may also refer to HR's PTO Toolkit for Leaders and Teams for useful information.

Setting a Vacation Message in Gmail

To set a vacation message in Gmail, follow these steps:

  1. Open Gmail on your computer.

  2. In the top right corner, click the Settings gear icon.

  3. In the Quick settings panel, click See all settings.

  4. Scroll down to the Vacation responder section (under the General tab).

  5. Click the “Vacation responder on” box.

  6. Choose the dates as needed (First day and optionally, the Last day).

  7. In the Subject field, enter the subject of your vacation message.

  8. In the Message field, enter the body of your vacation message.

  9. Click Save changes.

Your vacation message will now be sent automatically to anyone who sends you an email while you are away.

Enabling Working Hours in Google Calendar

To enhance your availability management, please remember to set up working hours in Google Calendar in conjunction with setting up an out-of-office message in Gmail (see above) and Calendar (see below).

To do this:

  1. Open Google Calendar on your computer.

  2. In the top right corner, click the settings gear icon > Settings.

  3. In the left panel, select Working hours & location.

  4. Specify your working days and hours.

  5. If applicable, provide your work location. Note that you can subsequently modify the working location details for each day directly in your calendar.

  6. Click Save.

Using the Out of Office Event Type in Google Calendar

The Out of Office event type in Google Calendar allows you to easily set your availability and notify others when you are away from work. This can be useful for vacations, sick days, conference travel or any other time when you will be unable to respond to emails or attend meetings. 

To create an Out of Office event, follow these steps:

  1. Open Google Calendar on your computer.

  2. In the top left corner, click the Create button.

  3. Select Out of Office. Type the event title (e.g. Out of office). If you are on business travel (e.g.  conference travel), you can also specify additional details (e.g. Out of office - attending the Workday Rising conference).  

  4. In the Start time and End time fields, you can select the dates and times when you'll be away. You have the option to use an All-day event, or specify a specific time range (for example, 8:30 AM - 5 PM). If you specify a time range, ensure that your working hours above are set accurately. The event time should encompass your designated working hours (otherwise, the yellow notification that indicates your unavailability to someone composing an email or chat message will not function properly). 

  5. Please ensure the visibility of your message remains as the default, Public.

  6. Click Save.

Your Out of Office event will now be visible to others on your calendar. When someone tries to schedule a meeting with you during your Out of Office period, they will see a message that you are unavailable. When someone is writing an email to you, they'll see a notification indicating that you're out of the office. In this case, they can choose to schedule the email delivery for when you return. Similarly, for Google Chat, a notification is displayed while someone is writing a message.

To edit or delete an Out of Office event, simply click on it in your calendar and make the necessary changes.

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