My 2021 so far: a mid-year look back + turning on vacation mode in Microsoft Teams and Office 365

Today is a good day – despite this being the third published blog post on today, which may be a kind of record even for me 😂. I am start my annual summer vacation and that gives me a welcome break to recharge some precious brain batteries. Perhaps even take some walks, bicycling and seeing some close family. Breaks and vacations/staycations are very important for wellbeing on many levels and essential for innovation – something that will be the hot and current after the summer. In case you are in touch with me I will have a longer respond time than usually because I am less online.

It is always good to look back and evaluate how things have been going and where you want to head next. I included some tips in this post how you can quiet your Teams, Outlook & Viva Insights for your break.

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Yes, I am almost smiling. Perhaps I try to do a smiling picture after my vacation!

But first – let’s have some numbers.
⭐participated as a speaker, reporter, panelist or organizer in 23 different events during six months.
❤ presented 27 sessions in different community events or groups.
🤩 spoke at Microsoft Ignite 2021, Microsoft Teams Summit, Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2021 and Microsoft Build 2021
✅ was one of the main organizers in 1 event: Teams Nation Community Conference 2021 in which we had 2200 online attendees, 115 sessions and over 140 speakers
🥰 was one of organizers in 11 User Group meetings (Teams Finland and Teams Nation Monthly Meetups)
🌟 hosted and presented in 12 Sulava webinars
🔥 already installed Windows 11 and began testing it
✍ wrote 68 blog posts here + a few others to other blogs
🙏 People viewed my blog articles almost 500 000 times during these six months.
😍 I was renewed as MVP for my 3rd year. I am extremely happy and honored about this!

Top 4 articles for these 6 months in the blog have been

I am happy that this blog has been helping people to find information and I continue contributing to do so!

Get Inspired!

There are of course lots of things happening around Microsoft Teams during this summer. You don’t want to miss Microsoft Inspire if you are a business person or a Microsoft Partner. This is the event that will do some announcements and brings news on various products and highlights for Microsoft’s fiscal year 2022. Registration is already open and you can build your Inspire schedule. A lot of Team’s features will be coming out during July – and I am sure Microsoft Inspire will have surprises for us (they always do). I will be on vacation, so I will catch sessions later in on-demand and very likely I will post a summary of Microsoft Teams Inspire news later on.

There is also a Teams Nation Monthly Meetup July 19th. Chris and Adam will prepare you a good meeting there!

Prepare your Microsoft Teams for vacation: turn on Quiet hours

Of course you can choose to sign-out of Microsoft Teams during the vacation and remove your Office 365 account from your phone (or at least turn off email syncing) but there are other alternatives to this. Especially if you know you that you may have to take some action during your vacation. Or that suits you better. What I do, is that I turn on Teams Quiet Hours, set Out of Office and turn on Outlook mobile to Do not Disturb. I am not removing my Teams icon from my mobile’s front screen but this is not because of work but because I have other tenants I use – for example in MVP interactions. However – I want to set Quiet Hours so that I don’t receive notifications but instead I do my best to reduce the feeling of urgency and also checks “if there is something new out there”. I know it will take at least a week (or even two) for me to wind-down from actively doing checks..

As a reminder, you can set Quiet Hours on Teams mobile by going to notifications.

In notifications you can see during quiet time. The magic happens there.

turn on Quiet Days and select all days

And you are done. Your Teams mobile doesn’t alarm you with notifications during your vacation. You can see that this has been configured if you check out your profile photo on Teams-view. Yes, Zzzz is there.

While at that – why not quiet Outlook notifications as well? Open Outlook mobile and look for the bell in account. This muting needs to be done for each account you want to mute – obviously it is time to mute the work account!
The benefit is that I can still access my work calendar – there are some personal reservations (it is my default calendar) so I want to stay on track about those. I do remove myself from all recurring meetings that happen during my vacation so I don’t get notified about them.

In the screen “behind the bell” you can set Outlook to Do not disturb.

Choosing “Until I turn it off” is a good and quick option. Don’t worry – you will eventually remember to turn it back on after the vacation.

If you have other accounts added to your Outlook mobile you might want to change the default account to one of those – so you don’t accidentally open your work box..

And finally you want to set Out of Office so that Teams shows your colleagues that you are not working. Teams and Outlook sync these settings so it is enough to do the setting in one place – it will be automatically reflected on the other one. We of course start this with Teams.

Open Teams and under to the top-right … menu click Settings.

Click on Schedule on Out of Office section.

Click on Turn on automatic replies to turn it on.

Now that you have automatic replies on (1) you can then set the message to your organization’s internal users (2) and if you check the box on Send replies outside my organization you can customize the message others (outside your organization) see (3).

Lastly you want to check replies only during a time period to be able to set dates and times (5) when this Out of Office is effective Finally Click on Save(5).

Now you can see that Out of Office has been scheduled.

How do you know this is on at Outlook as well? You can open Outlook and check out settings even in web version.

On top right at Outlook web you can go ahead search for automatic replies in settings. Open it by clicking on search result Automatic replies.

You are instantly teleported to Automatic replies page. In here you can see Out of Office has been set. You can also check Block my calendar for this period, Automatically decline new invitations and even automatically Decline and cancel all meetings that has been scheduled for your vacation time. This saves the time to remove them individually.

If you can, check out To Do and Outlook and get everything done, schedule them to the time after the vacation and try to get your inbox to 0 (empty of emails) before logging out. It will help your mind to forget those as well.

Remember to Turn off Viva Insights notifications for Virtual Commute, Praise and Reflections. No, they don’t come through your Teams Quiet hours but you don’t want to have those extra unnecessary 60-90 notifications waiting for you when you come back.

I strongly recommend turning off reminders to Viva Insights for Virtual commute, Reflection and Praise for your vacation time. You only end up having unnecessary notifications in your Teams that make it more difficult to find out the real notifications you want to check after your vacation, when you are back at work.

Also: it is good to check Microsoft Teams Notifications in overall and turn off at least team & channel, likes and any other secondary (well, not related to you directly) notifications. You might want to leave just direct atMentions so you have less to go through after the vacation but you can then take action on those important topics.

You are now ready for vacation from Microsoft Teams / Office 365 perspective. You might want to consider turning off notifications on social media accounts as well. And stop the email sync on HoloLens 2 if you plan to use them for recreation games during vacation.

Testing out HoloLens 2 earlier this month was so superb experience that it made me smile.

Thank you everyone! Stay safe and have a great & relaxing summer!

As this is the view from my home office, I will be watching this less than usual for next few weeks.

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