Out of office in Microsoft 365

What you need to know about automatic replies in Office 365 / Microsoft 365

An automatic reply is a message that your email server sends in certain situations, in reply to another email. A good example of an auto reply is an out of office (OOO/OOF) message. But you already knew that, right? This guide goes into much more detail about automatic replies in Microsoft 365 (Office 365).

Why use automatic replies in Microsoft 365?

There are some common scenarios in which automatic replies come in handy:

Confirmation emails

Confirmation emails

when you want your recipients to know that you’ve received their request and that you’re on it. It is also useful to specify other contact methods, just in case.

Out of office messages

Out of office messages

when you (or your whole team) are out of office, it is crucial to let your recipients know about that and what they can do in the meantime. Read on to learn more about out of office messages.

Wrong address

Wrong address

you might have changed your email address because your name changed, or your company was acquired, and you have a new domain. It is often a good idea to let your recipients know they’re knocking on the wrong door.

Out of office messages in Microsoft 365

To set up your auto responses and out of office status in Office 365, you can use a number of options:

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Outlook
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Outlook on the web
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Outlook mobile
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Microsoft Teams
Out of office messages

After you set it up in any of those places, the information goes to the server. Then, any time someone tries to reach you, they will get an automatic response.

See how to set up your own out of office status

Out of office messages examples

If you’re in a hurry and need a well-formulated message, out of office message templates are the way to go. It’s also a great way to speed things up if you find yourself having writer’s block.

Out of office messages examples
Click here for professional
out of office message examples

Setting up automatic replies for another user in Microsoft 365

While setting up your own out of office status is not rocket science, people often fail to do so before leaving the office. Here are some of the most popular reasons for not setting the OOO/OOF messages up:

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Forgetting to do so
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Sudden leaves (nobody plans to get sick or have an accident, I think).
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Failure to set it up properly (setting up a wrong date, inability to find the setting, forgetting to click something).
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“What’s the big deal?”

Leaving your recipients without any information about your absence is not professional. That’s why organizations need a way to set those automatic replies for other users. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to handle auto-reply and out of office messages for teammates:

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Setting it up in the Microsoft 365 admin center.
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Using a PowerShell script.
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Logging in as another user and setting up OOO within Outlook or Teams.
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Creating an inbox (Outlook rule).
Setting up automatic replies for another user in Microsoft 365

Want to know how to do that exactly? See this step-by-step tutorial

Limitations of Microsoft 365 automatic responses

Standard out of office messages and auto responses are extremely useful. They do come with some challenges, though:

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While you can set automatic replies for other users, it does require specific permissions and access levels. As such, the task ends up in Inbox of the IT team who might have a lot of other priorities.
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Out of office management is possible with a PowerShell script. Unfortunately, most non-IT team members refrain from using this method, as it requires at least basic scripting knowledge. Management via other mentioned methods can prove to be quite time-consuming.
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Native automatic replies don’t include your standard organizational HTML email signature. Their formatting in general is very basic.
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Automatic replies don’t include the original message.
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You can’t set them up to include attachments.
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Loop protection is necessary, but there’s no way to modify this setting, so that the server is allowed to send, for example, an autoreply to a certain address once every 24 hours.
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You have no influence over To, From, CC and BCC fields.

Fortunately, there is a solution which lets you manage automatic responses in a better way.

How to effectively manage automatic replies in Microsoft 365?

If you need more than the native autoreply mechanism can offer, try CodeTwo Autoresponder for Microsoft 365. Some of the advantages it gives you:

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Fully branded automatic replies and out of office messages
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Central management for all users
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Smart scheduling
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Advanced loop protection mechanism
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Personalized email signatures in auto-reply messages
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Easy forwarding to another mailbox

Guide - Out of office in Microsoft 365

Autoresponder is an integral part of CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 – the world leading email signature management service. It lets you centrally manage email signatures, legal disclaimers and marketing campaign for all users in your Microsoft 365 (Office 365) organization, regardless of email clients and devices used.

Try CodeTwo Autoresponder for Microsoft 365 for free