Mastering Slack – A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Out of Office Messages




Setting out of office messages in Slack is an essential practice for effective communication in the workplace. When you’re away from your desk or unable to respond promptly, these messages help inform your teammates and clients about your availability. In this blog post, we’ll explore the purpose and benefits of setting out of office messages in Slack, understand how they work, and provide a step-by-step guide to creating and activating these messages. Additionally, we’ll discuss best practices for crafting effective out of office messages and managing them effectively. Let’s get started!

Understanding Out of Office Messages in Slack

Definition and functionality: Out of office messages are automated notifications that inform others that you are away or unavailable. These messages are triggered when someone tries to interact with you through Slack, ensuring that colleagues and stakeholders are aware of your absence and can adjust their expectations accordingly.

How out of office messages work: Slack allows users to set their status and availability, including automated responses, which are displayed when others attempt to message them. By setting an out of office message, you can provide important details, such as the duration of your absence and alternative contact information, ensuring that others are kept well-informed and can contact the right person in your absence.

Different types of out of office messages: Slack offers various options when setting out of office messages. These include status updates like “In a meeting” or “On vacation” and custom messages with specific information about your availability. Additionally, you have the choice to enable external notifications, which allow people outside your Slack workspace to receive automated replies.

Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Out of Office Messages in Slack

Step 1: Accessing the Slack settings

Before you can create an out of office message in Slack, you need to navigate to the settings menu. To do this, follow these steps:

Navigating to the settings menu

  1. Click on your profile picture in the top-right corner of the Slack desktop app or website.
  2. Select “Preferences” from the dropdown menu.
  3. In the left-hand sidebar, choose “Advanced”.

Finding the “Status & availability” section

  1. Scroll down to the “Status & availability” section in the preferences menu.
  2. Click on “Set a status” to expand the options.

Step 2: Creating the out of office message

Now that you’ve accessed the settings menu, you can create your out of office message by following these steps:

Choosing the appropriate status

Note: Slack offers several pre-defined statuses like “In a meeting” or “On vacation” that you can select as your out of office status. Alternatively, you can choose “Custom” to create a personalized message.

  1. In the “Set a status” section, choose the appropriate status option.
  2. If you select “Custom,” enter a brief summary of your availability in the “What’s your status?” field.

Writing the message body

Tip: Keep your message body concise and informative, providing key details about your absence. Avoid unnecessary information that may confuse or overwhelm readers.

  1. In the expanded status menu, enter the message body in the “What’s happening?” field.
  2. Consider including relevant information such as your return date, the reason for your absence, and who to contact in case of emergencies.

Customizing the message duration

  1. Under the message body, click on the calendar icon to select the start and end dates of your absence.

Adding relevant details and contact information

  1. Consider adding your contact information as well as other team members who can help during your absence.
  2. Double-check that the provided information is accurate and up-to-date.

Step 3: Setting up external notifications

Enabling external notifications allows people outside your Slack workspace, such as clients or partners, to receive automated replies when they message you. Follow these steps to enable external notifications:

Enabling external notifications for out of office messages

  1. Below the message body, toggle the switch next to “Share this status with external contacts.”

Configuring the notification settings

  1. Click on the “Edit message” option to modify the automated reply text.
  2. Customize the response to include relevant information and ensure clarity for external contacts.

Step 4: Specifying automatic replies (optional)

While not necessary for out of office messages, you can set up automatic replies for direct messages and mentions. Here’s how:

Setting up automatic replies for direct messages

  1. In the settings menu, navigate to “Notifications” using the left-hand sidebar.
  2. Click on “Do not disturb” and scroll down to the “Automatic replies” section.
  3. Toggle the switch to activate automatic replies.
  4. Customize the automatic reply message and select who will receive these replies.

Configuring automatic replies for mentions

  1. In the same “Do not disturb” section, find the “Away status replies” subsection.
  2. Toggle on “DM or @ mention replies.”
  3. Enter the desired message for automatic replies when someone mentions you in a channel or sends a direct message.

Step 5: Previewing and activating the out of office message

Before activating your out of office message, take a moment to review and ensure everything is in order. Here’s what to do:

Reviewing the out of office message

Read through your message and double-check for any errors or inconsistencies. Ensure that important details, like the duration of your absence and alternative contact information, are accurate and clearly stated.

Activating the message

  1. Click “Save” or “Set your status” to activate the out of office message.
  2. Your message will now be displayed whenever someone tries to communicate with you through Slack.

Best Practices for Effective Out of Office Messages in Slack

Creating effective out of office messages not only helps manage expectations but also ensures smooth communication during your absence. Consider the following best practices:

Clear and concise communication

Avoid vague or ambiguous messages. Clearly state the purpose of your absence, your expected return date, and any relevant information that colleagues or stakeholders need to know.

Providing alternative contact information

Include contact details for a colleague or team member who can assist in your absence. This ensures that urgent or time-sensitive matters can be resolved promptly.

Setting proper expectations regarding response times

Inform others about your availability and response times. Be realistic and transparent about when they can expect a reply, particularly during extended periods of absence or when you have limited access to Slack.

Managing Out of Office Messages in Slack

While it’s important to set out of office messages, effectively managing them is equally crucial. Here are some tips:

Updating or extending the duration of the out of office message

If your absence is extended or if you need to modify any of the details in your out of office message, follow the same steps outlined earlier to access the settings and make the necessary changes.

Deactivating the out of office message upon return

Once you’re back and ready to resume your regular activities, remember to deactivate your out of office message. Simply go to the status settings menu and choose a status that reflects your availability, such as “Active.”

Tracking and organizing responses received during the absence

Make sure to properly track and manage any messages, tasks, or requests received during your absence. Create a system to prioritize and address them systematically, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.


Setting out of office messages in Slack is a simple yet powerful tool for effective communication in the workplace. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that your colleagues and stakeholders are well-informed about your availability and can adjust their expectations accordingly. Remember to follow best practices for crafting clear and concise messages, providing alternative contact information, and setting proper expectations regarding response times. Effectively managing out of office messages ensures a smoother team communication experience, enhancing collaboration and productivity. Start utilizing these strategies in Slack today for a more efficient work environment.


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