“Will Return Shortly”

Setting Notifications in Zoom When Away from the Digital Space


When participants arrive at scheduled office hours and cannot contact the host, they are more likely to disengage with the class. But it is sometimes necessary to step away from the digital space for a moment, just like we step away from our offices. These are some ideas for leaving a “will return shortly” notice.

Away in a Breakout Room

By default, the only way to leave a notice within Zoom that you are in a breakout room, or to see that another participant has joined, is to join the meeting with another device. I hope this changes soon.

Option 1

Email students with your policy, such as

  • you will return to the main session every 5 minutes to check for new entrants,
  • they can email you to notify you they have arrived in the meeting,
  • set up Zoom to use a waiting room instead of drop in office hours.

Option 2 (requires a second device connected to Zoom)

After joining the meeting with the primary device, join with secondary device.* You will be able to see and possibly hear new entrants from this device. If you are muted and video is disabled, they won’t be able to hear or see you. This device will display the “will return shortly” message, such as:

Downloads available: away_breakout_returnTime, away_breakout_saySomething, away_breakout_chatSomething. These images can be shared on a PC, tablet, or smartphone. Sharing an image on a smartphone uses significantly less bandwidth than video, but watch the battery life of your device.

* The host device is the first to join the meeting from the Zoom account that scheduled the meeting.

Briefly Stepped Away from Video Pickup

If you have to step away from your video pickup, share a message like the following, or a similar message, on your screen. Consider adding a fun photo or drawing yourself!

Downloads available: away_returnTime, away_saySomething, away_chatSomething.

This work was produced by Ella Foster-Molina, Swarthmore College, March 2020. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.