How to add an upcoming out of office period to the signature
Learn how to automatically add upcoming out of office dates to your email signatures with CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365.
Whenever people work on a project, there is a risk that some of the participants crucial for the success will be out of office. This may result in missing deadlines or unnecessary delays when someone else could take over the project. This problem is partially fixed by the "out of office" status and, for example, company-managed automatic replies or centrally-managed out-of-office replies. Unfortunately, users don’t always find the time to set up the out of office status. And even when they do, important project-related questions can appear right before their absence. This leaves others without any knowledge of the upcoming out of office period and potential substitute contact.
You can easily fix this by adding the information (a note) about upcoming out of office periods to email signatures.
This article shows how to configure CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 for a specific usage scenario. If you need more basic information, use the links below:
How to configure the program for this scenario
In this example, we will create CodeTwo custom attributes that will be used to add information (a note) about upcoming out of office periods to email signatures and supplement the information with additional details, e.g. substitute email address.
- Create a custom attribute
- Method 1: Create a rule that adds the upcoming out of office note to all signatures (server-side / cloud mode only)
- Method 2: Modify an existing rule to add the upcoming out of office note to specific signature (any signature mode)
- Let users turn on/off the notification about their upcoming out of office
Create a custom attribute
To start, sign in at attributes.codetwo.com using your Microsoft 365 global admin credentials. On the default Attribute visibility settings page, you can manage the attributes that are visible and editable by end users. You can also add custom, user-editable attributes. Let’s do this now. Click the Add button (Fig. 1.).
Fig. 1. Adding a new CodeTwo custom attribute.
Name the new custom attribute, for example, Upcoming out of office. Click Add to create the attribute (Fig. 2.).
Fig. 2. Creating a custom attribute for upcoming out of office periods.
Let’s also create two additional attributes, Substitute email and out of office soon?.
Next, click Save.
In this example of use, the attributes will be used as follows:
- out of office soon? lets users control if they want the information about upcoming out of office periods to appear in their emails (applies only to the Method 1 below).
- Upcoming out of office contains the time frame when a user will not be available.
- Substitute email is added to let recipients know who they can contact during the user’s absence.
Method 1: Create a rule that adds the upcoming out of office note to all signatures (server-side / cloud mode only)
This method shows how to add the information about upcoming out of office periods by using a separate signature rule. Thanks to that, even if you set up multiple email signatures (for example, for different teams), you can add the upcoming out of office note to all of them.
- Go to app.codetwo.com and sign in with your Microsoft 365 credentials.
- Create a new server-side signature rule, go to the Senders step and select Add > Azure AD filter, as shown in Fig. 3.
Fig. 3. Using the Azure AD filter as a signature rule condition.
- Select the out of office soon? attribute from the Azure AD field drop-down list, use Contains as the Operator, and enter yes in the Value field. Click Add to list to create the condition (Fig. 4.). This way, the information about upcoming out of office periods will be added only if a user or admin chooses to activate it (by entering the yes phrase as the value of the out of office soon? attribute, as discussed later on).
Fig. 4. Azure AD filter with a condition set for the custom attribute.
- In the Logic step, select option If this rule is applied > Process the next rule on the list (Fig. 5.). This way, once you move the newly created out of office rule to the highest position on the rules’ list (as explained later), CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 will add the information about the upcoming out of office period in addition to users’ email signature.
Fig. 5. Configuring the signature rule logic to apply to more than one signature rule.
- Finally, go the Design step and click Edit signature (Fig. 6.).
Fig. 6. Editing signature design.
- Type the text of the message that will be added to a signature if a user is going to take an out-of-office soon. You can color your message (e.g. in red) for greater visibility. Use your other custom attributes (Upcoming out of office and Substitute email) in the text. To do it, place the cursor exactly where you want to insert a given attribute and go to Placeholder > Message Sender > Additional attributes (Fig. 7.).
Fig. 7. Adding the custom CodeTwo attributes in the signature template editor.
- Highlight the text and click Remove empty placeholder (Fig. 8.). This way, if the custom attributes are not filled in, the whole text block will not be added to the signature, even if the condition set up in step 2 is met.
Fig. 8. Remove empty placeholder.
- Use the Apply & Close button before leaving the editor.
- Back in the rule creation wizard, click Save (without publishing the rule yet).
- In the main view of the signature management app, select your new rule on the Server-side signatures list, use the Move up button to place it on top of other rules and click Publish (Fig. 9.) to apply the rule in your organization. Learn more about how server-side rules are processed
Fig. 9. Placing a rule at the top of the Server-side signatures list and publishing it.
Method 2: Modify an existing rule to add the upcoming out of office note to specific signature (any signature mode)
In this method, the upcoming out of office note is added to the same rule that adds an email signature, based on whenever users modify their custom out of office attributes. This makes it easy to add the notice about upcoming out of office dates to client-side (Outlook) signatures.
- Go to app.codetwo.com and sign in with your Microsoft 365 credentials.
- Choose the signature to which you would like to add the information about upcoming out of office period by clicking the related rule on the list.
- In the Design step, click Edit signature (Fig. 10.).
Fig. 10. Editing an existing email signature design.
- Type the text that will inform an email recipient about upcoming out of office period. Go to Placeholder > Message Sender > Additional attributes (see Fig. 7.) to add the custom attributes you configured earlier (Upcoming out of office and Substitute email).
- Highlight the text and click Remove empty placeholder (see Fig. 8.). This way, if the custom attributes are not filled in by a user, the whole text block will not be added to the signature.
- Use the Apply & Save button before leaving the editor.
- Back in the rule creation wizard, click Save & Publish.
Let users turn on/off the notification about their upcoming out of office
The last part requires users to fill in the information about their upcoming out of office periods and (optionally) who will be their substitute when they are away. That’s how a user does it:
- Sign in to user.codetwo.com with your Microsoft 365 credentials.
- Fill in the information in the following fields (Fig. 11.):
- out of office soon? (applies to the Method 1 only) – type yes to start adding the note about an upcoming out of office period to your signature(s),
- Upcoming out of office – provide the period in the future when you will not be available at work.
- Substitute email – provide an email address of a person/team that can be contacted during your absence.
- Click Save & update. The changes are applied immediately.
Fig. 11. Filling in custom attributes used for informing about upcoming out of office plans.
Whenever a user chooses to display their upcoming out of office note, it will appear along with their email signature. Depending on the setup, you may style it in various ways and control where the message should appear (Fig. 12.).
Fig. 12. An example text informing about upcoming out of office period.