Recurring Automatic replies On Outlook - The Complete Guide

Updated: 6 days ago


You need to leave your office desk at home while working from home to stay healthy and the best way to do it professionally is to schedule the recurring out of office replies in Outlook.


This is your starter guide to schedule the recurring automatic replies in Outlook for your different needs - be it for your out of business working hours, not the general weekends off or just the daily out of office to go to your gym during office hours while enjoying flexible working.



I have been working remotely for almost 4 years now and I understand how hard is it to take the regular breaks in between the long screen times. I thought of scheduling the recurring automatic replies in Outlook to inform everyone on my unavailability at certain time of the day and reduce the mental stress of being "Always available" and could not find any such solution in Outlook so I started exploring the automations through the Microsoft's own Automation tool - MS Power Automate.


I am not an MS Power Automate expert but you will get enough information in this article about it to successfully schedule them yourselves for the frequently asked scenarios and you will be able to explore it further based on your needs.



In this article:



Why do you need Recurring Out Of Office replies?


Below are some scenarios which I could think of and tried to explore the automation around them:

  1. The most common recurring Out of Office reply is not working in regular Monday to Friday week, so you would want to inform the sender of the mail that you are not working on certain days of the week and they can contact your backup or team if they cannot wait for you to respond on that email.

  2. Similar to the first one, if you are working in a shift that is out of normal business hours ( 9am to 5pm) you would always want to inform your customers on your work timings so that they should not be waiting for you to respond instantly on the emails that they send

  3. The professional way to be on a daily break while working from home is scheduling the automatic replies for your Colleagues and customers informing them to expect some delay in the response.


How to schedule recurring Out of Office replies?


The recurring automatic replies unfortunately cannot be set directly through Outlook however you can do that by using one of the most powerful tool provided by Microsoft which is Microsoft Power Automate. I know most of you might not have heard this so check the brief explanation and FAQs below before using the Power Automate


What is Microsoft Power Automate?


Microsoft Power Automate is a cloud service provided by Microsoft to automate tasks through workflows and is integrated across several applications including the third party apps and APIs which are not owned by Microsoft. You can do implement various Business processes using the Microsoft flows across various industries.


Please go through the detailed Microsoft documentation if you would like to learn more about this.


Most of the organizations have the MS Power Automate included in the Microsoft 365 Subscriptions so check the below section to find if you can use this for free or not.


Is Microsoft Power Automate Free?


Microsoft Power Automate consists of hundreds of Connectors ( for example Outlook, MS teams, Excel, Google drive, Adobe pdf services, WordPress and many more). While some of these connectors are Standard and others are Premium connectors. The good news is that the standard connectors are included in most of the Microsoft office 365 subscription so you can access it for free for setting up the recurring Automatic replies.


I have got the below excerpt from the Power Automate licensing guide which mentions that Standard Connectors are included with Office 365 licenses.

MS power automate connectors included in Office 365 licenses
Microsoft Power Automate with Office 365

How to check if you can access Microsoft Power Automate for free?

  1. Just go to the Subscriptions page for your Office account by logging in with your company credentials which you use for Outlook as well.

  2. Click on View Account and then on the left side pane, click on Subscriptions.

  3. Scroll down and you will see the Subscriptions like below:

How to check with Power Automate is free in Office 365 subscription

If your company does not have an Office 365 subscription or you are a personal user, you can sign up for Microsoft Power Automate for free with 90 days free trial.


 
 

Steps to schedule recurring Out of Office reply from Outlook


Now you have got an idea about Microsoft Power Automate so lets understand the generic steps that you would need to take. Don't forget to check the next section having different examples.


1. Access Microsoft Power Automate

Ensure that you sign in with your work email ID as I assume you would be using Outlook for your work emails.


2. Search for "automatic replies" flow

You will get the below results in the templates. Click on the below template

Outlook Automatic replies Microsoft flow connector

On the next page, give permissions to Microsoft flow to connect to your work email ID and click on Continue.


3. Fill in the Recurrence condition


Click on "Show advanced options"

Recurrence condition Microsoft flow

Recurrence inputs in Microsoft Power Automate

The input fields depend on the frequency that you choose, the important common recurrence inputs are explained below:


Interval : Interval for the frequency mentioned below.

Frequency: You can select from the dropdown. It can be month, day, hour, minute and even second.

Time zone: Click on "X" and it will give you a drop down to select the time zone. Select your local time zone from the drop down list.


Check the actual values for above fields in the examples section.


4. Fill the actions for Set up automatic replies

The fields are similar to one in your Outlook Out of office Automatic replies.


Inputs for Microsoft Automatic replies connector for Outlook

Status: Select as scheduled for recurring automatic replies.

External Audience: You can select from Contacts Only or All.

Start Time: Start time of your Automatic replies.

End Time: End time of your out of office replies.

Internal Reply Message: Message for your organization employees.

External Reply Message: Out of office reply for people outside your organization


Check the actual values for above fields in the examples section.


 

Recurring Out of Office reply examples using Power Automate



Schedule recurring automatic reply for a specific day of the week


For example, you are working from Wednesday to Sunday with weekly offs on Monday and Tuesday. You need to inform the sender of the mail that you are not working on specific and they should send the mail to someone else or expect a delay in response.


You can provide below inputs for this scenario in the Microsoft flow. Please modify it according to your scenario


Recurrence Inputs:


Interval: 1

Frequency: Week

Time zone: <Your local time zone>

On these days: <specific day of the week on which it should be triggered> For example Monday

At these hours: 0


This will start the flow on the specific week day at 00:00 hours.


Out of office reply scheduling on week day

Set up automatic replies inputs:


Status: Scheduled

External Audience: All or ContactsOnly

Start Time: function utcNow() , which returns the current time

End Time: function addHours(utcNow(), <no. of hours for which out of office should run>)

For example, for 2 days it would be 48 hours.

Internal and External reply messages: <your out of office message>

Specific day automatic reply example for regular or part time workers:

I am not working on Mondays and Tuesdays, I will respond to your mail upon my return on Wednesday. Please contact the team <xyz> if this is urgent.




Scheduling daily out of office reply for your working hours


For example, you are working daily in night shift from 6 pm till 3 am and you want to inform the senders of the emails to not wait for your reply during business hours between 8 am and 5 pm.

The Microsoft flow will trigger at the start of business day and will only run during the business hours (8 am to 5pm)


Recurrence Inputs:


On these days: <All of your working days>

Start Time : <Start time of the business day, example 8 am>

Automatic reply scheduling for out of business hours

Set up automatic replies inputs:


End time: function addHours(utcNow(), <no. of hours for which out of office should run>)

For example, 9 hours for a normal Business day.


Internal and External reply messages: <your message>

For example: I am working during out of business hours between 6pm and 3 am and can reply to your mail during my shift time. Please contact my manager if this is urgent.





Scheduling automatic replies daily for regular break while working from home


For example, you go daily for running, pick up kids from school or going to gym at a particular time while working from home and want to inform all that you are not available for some time daily by sending automatic replies


Recurrence Inputs:

Daily recurring automatic reply scheduling

Set up automatic replies inputs:


End time: function addHours(utcNow(), <no. of hours for which out of office should run>) or addMinutes(utcNow(), <minutes for which out of office should run>)


Internal and External reply messages: <your message>

Daily out of office reply example:

I am currently not available and will be back on desk at 4 pm. Please expect a delay in response or call me on my mobile if this is urgent.



Let me know in the comments section below if this article helped you and provide any feedback to improve this article.


 

#TechUpdate #Microsoft


Close Site Navigation