We've all written to someone about an urgent topic, only to get an automatic reply in return saying the person is currently out of office. Google is rolling out a new feature in Gmail and Calendar to help you avoid unnecessarily contacting people who are unable to reply, as it will now let you know your co-worker is out of office before you even write to them.

The new functionality will display a yellow banner at the bottom of the email or chat composer to let you know the person is currently out of office. The warning will be available in Gmail and Hangouts chat, as shown above. For it to work, people will previously need to create an out of office entry in their calendar for Google to know they're away.

Although this might seem like a minor improvement, I truly appreciated the functionality when was working with Office 365, as it would prevent me from reaching out to colleagues who were on vacation and potentially unable to get back to me on time. The feature will be turned on by default for all users, but can be disabled in the calendar settings -> Access permissions -> Show calendar info in other Google apps, limited by access permissions.

Google is gradually rolling out the feature to all G Suite users starting today, but it may take until September 19 for it to be enabled on all accounts.