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Mail on Holiday / Out-of-office Auto-Delete Rule

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I was wondering if anyone had any experience setting up a 'Mail on Holiday' rule in 0365, whereby anytime anyone turns on their Out-of-Office reply to go on PTO, 0365 will automatically delete any incoming emails a la what Daimler setup here.  

I figured the simple side would be an exchange rule, a more complex integrated approach would be to manage opting-in via AD security groups and/or tying actual PTO to your HRIS system (ex, Workday), so just wanted to start simple now.

Any ideas on how to do this in 0365?


PS - Ideally, the email will be deleted before ever hitting the inbox, so it just won't be delivered.  Hitting the inbox and then allowing time for the user to access before an auto-delete defeats the purpose.

6 Replies
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Interesting topic.  It's a rather a radical way of dealing with email sprawl, I can see it must be quite liberating but equally could be impractical in many situations, a big cultural shift! 

 

Focused Inbox can really cut down email noise but I know it's not what you mean.  I suppose a Mail flow rules might be able to do this, not sure how it would work though.  Seems like a lot of work and if it misfires, it could cause real trouble!

 

New rule.png

Mail flow rule conditions and exceptions in Exchange Online Protection

 

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I agree, it's a huge shift.  This is more just a POC / 'OK...but how could we [technically] do this here...if we wanted to' type question.

I was thinking of the Mail flow rules as well...but they seem pretty limited to normal email fields (to/from/subject/attachment size), not "if" something is ever turned on (OOO).  You would probably have to do a 2nd logical 'AND' as well (if 'The recipient is a member of' [opt-in email group]...AND they have their OOO turn on) so not sure where to go from here.  Possibly Exchange Online Powershell?


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I'm not really sure why would you want to do such thing in the first place. This is a behavioral problem, not a technical one.

 

Yes, you can create mail flow rules to redirect or even delete messages. No, you cannot automatically tie them to the OOO settings, but you can easily schedule a PowerShell script to turn the rule on/off as needed. Or add additional criteria such as group membership, as you noted. So technically it's doable.

 

But what about the sender? Should he be notified or just be left in the dark (and in some cases waiting for a reply in vain)? Should he receive the OOO message of the person or some generic message? Or just an NDR, which will confuse him even more? What about internal vs external mail? And should we even start to talk about the possible compliance implications?

 

If you want to do a technical solution, you can simply block users' access to email for that period.

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It takes 30 seconds to empty your inbox after returning from leave. Offsetting that minor inconvenience with a system that deletes emails.... risky.

 

I mean if you really want to get fiddly with this stuff you would scan mailboxes for those with OOF enabled and drop them out of all DLs, so that important personal email is not lost.

 

This does sound bad though. There's nothing available for the end user to make this happen, unless they set up their own OOF message and an inbox rule, and then remember to turn off that inbox rule.

 

Yeah, just sounds bad to me.

Have you tried Microsoft Flow to achieve this ? Its pretty flexible as described in example at the following link Auto Respond to Leavers emails using Microsoft Flow

 

You could build a flow template which your users could re-use themselves or a central one which monitors the users mailbox, given the right permissions.

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Wow. What a lot of opinions.
I was thinking of asking the same question, but looking at all the opinionated answers, I'll carry on googling.
And since I do have 5 minutes to spare - yes, it's a behavioural issue, and that's EXACTLY why you use tech to assist it.
If HR sets a policy to say "Don't email a colleague who's on holiday" and people still do it, yes you could fire everyone who contravenes, yes you could start disciplinary actions, yes you could reduce their bonus, yes you could report it to their managers, yes you could pay a consultancy company to deal with the behaviour issue and/or the cultural change, yes you can send reminders on a regular basis...

OR

You can just do an auto-reply "the colleague you've tried to email is on holiday as you've seen from his out of office, therefore, as per HR policy your email has been deleted".

 

Simples.