Time Management
How to Set Slack Out of Office + Automate to Save Time

How to Set Slack Out of Office + Automate to Save Time

September 15, 2023

How to Set Slack Out of Office + Automate to Save Time
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Name a better feeling than inching your way toward your workday's last couple hours before heading out for a much-needed vacation. (It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?) 

One of the final items on my to-do list before spending time away from work to recharge is turning on my vacation responder across all apps, including Slack. While it’s not the same as an email autoresponder, updating your Slack status helps let everyone know you’re taking time off and plan to be inactive until your return. 

In this quick reference guide, you’ll learn: 

  • How to set your Slack status with an out-of-office message
  • How Clockwise can update your Slack status for you automatically 
  • Why scheduling Slack messages can be helpful reminders for your colleagues 
  • Use cases for Slackbot custom responses for out-of-office notes

How to set out-of-office indicators in Slack

Setting an out-of-office message in Slack is easy and only takes a few minutes, so be sure to add it to your to-do list before some well-deserved time off. We’ll show you two ways to update your Slack status quickly: automatically with Clockwise and manually through your Slack profile settings.

Clockwise for Slack out-of-office status

1. Get Clockwise if you haven’t yet.

Clockwise has a Google Calendar + Slack sync, which means you can sync your calendar to your Slack status, including your out-of-office time. First, you’ll need to download Clockwise as a G Suite user. Click here to get started with Clockwise for free.

Slack out of office updates

2. Give Clockwise permission to integrate Slack and Google Calendar.

To automatically sync your availability to your Slack status, you’ll need to give Clockwise permission to integrate Slack with Google Calendar. When you sign up for Clockwise, you can sync your calendar with Slack during the onboarding process.

If you are already a Clockwise user and need to set up this integration, click here to get started.

3, Add your out-of-office time to your calendar.

Once you have completed the integration, all you need to do is create an out-of-office event on your Google Calendar and let Clockwise do the rest. When you use this sync, Clockwise automatically displays an emoji next to your name in Slack with a status message that reads, “Out of office (via Clockwise). 

Out of Office

Manually update your Slack status 

1. Locate your profile in Slack.

First, open Slack. Then click on your profile photo in the top right corner of the app.

2. Click the “Update your status” box.

Slack Status

3. Use the out-of-office status or create one of your own.

Slack comes with a “Vacationing – Don’t clear” status option, accompanied by a palm tree emoji (for dreamy beach vacations!) You can use this status to turn off notifications until the status is cleared and tell Slack when you want the status removed. 

set your slack status

Or, you can choose an emoji of your own. We recommend a speech bubble, the no-entry sign, or one of the many available travel icons. You can add your own status message with your emoji of choice. Here are some examples:

  • OOO - returning mm/dd
  • Out of the Office, back soon! 
  • On vacation
  • OOO - no responses until mm/dd

Update your Slack Status to Out of Office

And don’t forget to pause notifications! You don’t want to receive pop-ups and requests from your coworkers while you’re away.

Can Slack send out-of-office messages?

Unlike Gmail, Slack doesn’t send out-of-messages for you when you set your status to “OOO” or “Vacationing.” Even though you can’t send automatic replies, Slack’s status features operate somewhat like a vacation autoresponder in the sense that everyone in your workspace can view your status. 

If Slack statuses aren’t quite enough to get your point across, you can also consider scheduling Slack messages for a later time to let your colleagues know you are out of the office and unavailable. 

For example, you could schedule a message to go out to your team the morning your vacation starts saying something like, “Happy Monday, everyone! As a reminder, I am out of the office starting today, 4/1, and will return on 4/8. I won’t have access to Slack and will not be checking in during this time. Please reach out to Amanda P. in my absence. Talk soon!”  

This can be an easy way to get your message in front of a larger group and helps ensure that your team members don’t forget when your vacation is if you tell them about it too early. 

Third-party apps like Vacation Tracker can also help your team set up daily or weekly notifications with out-of-office reminders like this: 

Vacation Tracker app

Image source: Vacation Tracker

How to set up an auto-reply in Slack

While you can set a Slack status to let your colleagues know you are out of the office, Slack doesn’t send out-of-office messages on your behalf automatically. But you can set up Slack to react and respond to specific phrases.

You can use Slackbot and set up custom responses to trigger automatic replies. This feature works great for sharing the Wi-Fi password, celebrating team members, sending quick links to documents, and reminders to use inclusive language. 

To use something like this to send out-of-office messages, you would need to know the triggers that you expect to come through so Slack can respond. For example, this might work well for you if you know that all of your team members start Slack messages by addressing you by name. 

If my coworkers always said, “Hey, Alyssa!” before sending me a message, I could use this as a trigger to generate my out-of-office custom response. Unfortunately, if a coworker didn’t use this greeting, they wouldn’t receive my message. 

We recommend keeping your Slack status updated (or, better yet, letting Clockwise update your status for you) as the best course of action. 

Going forward

Update your Slack status and get out of here! Don’t forget to manually update your Slack status or let Clockwise do it for you before you head on your vacation. Consider scheduling Slack messages to your colleagues if it makes sense, exploring third-party app options to automate out-of-office reminders, or using Slackbot custom responses where it makes sense.

About the author

Alyssa Towns

Alyssa Towns is a freelance writer for Clockwise based in Denver, CO. She works in communications and change management. She primarily writes productivity and career-adjacent content and has bylines in G2, The Everygirl, Insider, and other publications. When she isn't writing, Alyssa enjoys trying new restaurants with her husband, playing with her Bengal cats, adventuring outdoors, or reading a book from her TBR list.

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