Emailing a co-worker without realizing they’re on vacation is a bummer for everyone involved. The second you get that “out of office” auto-reply, you suddenly remember the 20-minute conversation you had about their upcoming trip to Hawaii and feel like a goober. Meanwhile, they come back to a thousand “Hey, can you help with this? OH NEVERMIND SORRY ENJOY YOUR TRIP!” email threads.
Google is trying to make this happen a little less often with a feature it’ll soon roll out for its G Suite (read: paid Gmail/Docs/Hangouts/Calendar/etc. plans for businesses) users. If you’ve marked yourself as out of office on your calendar, your co-workers will get a heads up before they email you.
The heads up comes in the form of a little yellow banner that hovers right above the Send button, alerting the sender that you’re currently out of the office, and when you’re set to return.
A similar message will pop up if they try to message you in Hangouts, too.
It all ties into the out-of-office functionality the company introduced into Google Calendar last year, which automatically declines all meeting requests for the window in which you’ll be gone.
You probably don’t want every rando/spammer who tries to email you to know your travel plans, so Google says that the Gmail/Hangouts heads-up functionality will only work with G Suite users that have already been granted access to your calendar. So it’s information they already had — now they just don’t have to go looking for it.
If you don’t like the concept or the banner screws with your workflow for some reason, each user can disable it — go into the “Access permissions” section of your Google Calendar settings, and turn off “Show calendar info in other Google apps.”
Google says the feature should roll out to all G Suite users by September 16th.