Out of Office & Decline All Meetings – using Viva Insights

One of the most popular posts on this site is one that described how to set an out-of-office and decline all your meeting while you are away from the screen using Outlook on the Web.

I’m really pleased with how popular this post is because I’m encouraged that people are taking the appropriate hygiene actions to protect their time away.

The challenge with the original method, for many, is that it was only available in Outlook on the Web, and not within people’s desktop Outlook where much of the world’s email is still processed.

That has all changed recently with Viva Insights now having the Out of Office and Decline All Meetings capabilities.

Viva Insights

If you open Viva Insights, you are likely to see an option to Plan your time away I’ve also seen it show a slightly different widget called Time away:

Plan your time away
Time away

Once you open this widget you are taken through a step-by-step process to schedule time off, clear out your calendar and inform collaborators.

The first step is to schedule your time away, which you need to do before you can move to the next step:

Select dates

Once you have selected the dates you then have a set of actions available:

Time away options

The various actions work as follows:

  • Set automatic replies – this is the good old out-of-office message.
  • Notify collaborators – creates a meeting notice to tell co-workers that you are away. The widget suggests a list of collaborators based on who you regularly communicate with.
  • Resolve meetings – gives you the option to cancel meetings throughout your time away. I love that feeling as your calendar empties.
  • Book time to focus – encourages you to book additional time to focus before you leave and when you return:
Book time to focus

A bit more information over on the Microsoft Viva site.

The only small complaint that I have is that Viva Insights doesn’t respect my local device date format, being British I don’t think in month-day. (Having said that I’ve always been puzzled why anyone thinks that month-day-year is a sensible order 😉.)

Time away is an important part of a productive life, it’s not an optional extra. We need to be intentional about protecting that time away and I’m hoping that even more people will use the tools available to them.

Header Image: Shortly after sunrise over Derwentwater. This is the view from the top of Latrigg on a frosty Autumnal morning looking out towards Derwentwater and down through Borrowdale.

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