I recently just took the week off to move out of my house and had to write an out of office message. Turns out that knowing how to write an out of office message is harder than I thought.
While I would be looking at my inbox sporadically, I wanted to make sure that I set a clear expectation that I would be away for a set period of time but someone on my team could help them if needed.
Whether you’re an entreprepreneur or in an office setting at a 9-5, knowing how to write an out of office message effectively is so important. It sets clear expectations while you’re gone and sets you and/or co-workers up for success when you return. The worst is coming back from vacation or a work trip with a lot of messages to respond to with no direction. An out of office allows you to organize the chaos preemptively.
Below are some tips on what to do (and what not to do) when you write an out of office message and 5 examples that you can copy and paste for future reference.
WHAT TO DO
Establish how long you will be away. Letting the contact know how the length of your absence is vital for your out of office message. Doing this sets a clear expectation of how long you will be away and when they should try again to contact you or give them an idea of when they should hear a response from you.
Share when you will return. While letting people know how long you’ll be away in your out of office message is helpful, so is letting them know when you’ll return. It also removes any vague idea of when you might be back and gives people something absolute to work with. This is helpful especially if someone is contacting you trying to meet a deadline.
Give the reason for your absence (with discretion). You don’t owe anyone an explanation in your out of office message by any means, but when you give a small detail of why you’re away, that will determine whether the person trying to get in contact with you will call or text you. If you’re on a work trip and they know that – they’ll probably still contact you. If they know you’re on your family vacation – they’ll more than likely wait (or should anyway) until you return.
Say who they should contact while you’re away. If you have a co worker who you can point your emails to, share that in your out of office message ensuring that you spell your co-worker’s name and email address correctly. This way, the person contacting you doesn’t feel like they hit a dead end on the matter they’re emailing you about now that you’ve pointed them to a specific person. As an entrepreneur, if you have an assistant or team member who will handle business while you’re gone – take the same approach.
Set an autoresponder. While this seems like a given, be sure to make sure your autoresponder is set correctly. I once took off one week from my blog, wrote an out of office message and no one ever saw it because my autoresponder wasn’t set correctly. Not my proudest moment, but a valuable lesson learned.
WHAT NOT TO
Give too many details. If you’re headed to vacation or even a work conference, spare the city and venue you’re going to. Mostly for safety, but also, it’s none of their business.
Promise anything when you return. While it might seem polite to promise you’ll respond as soon as you return, you don’t know how long it will take you to get through your inbox and catch up with work.
Give colleague’s contact info without confirming they can assist. Not only is giving out people’s contact information without their consent incredibly unprofessional, it’s a sure way to burn a bridge. Ask if it’s okay to list their information in your out of office message before making that autoresponder live.
Have spelling errors. An out of office message is not that long (or shouldn’t be anyways). The least you can do is spell check, especially when it comes to the names and emails you include in the message.
Be unprofessional or “humorous.” This is not the time to be jokey, jokey. It’s also not the time to share that you might be drinking copious amounts of wine with your college friends on vacation. Keeping your out of office message professional and concise is always best.
5 EXAMPLES OF OUT OF OFFICE MESSAGES
Be sure to reference the above examples the next time you’re out of office and copy + paste one of them and fill them out with your own personal details.
Thanks so much for reaching out. I’m out of the office from [leave date] and will return [return date].
For immediate assistance or partnership requests, please email [contact name] at [email address].
Thanks so much for reaching out.
I am out of the office today, with no email access and will be returning [return date]. If you need immediate assistance before then, you may reach me at [phone number].
I will be away from [leave date] until [return date] for work. For urgent matters, you can contact [Contact First & Last Name].
Thank you for your email.
I am currently out of the office for vacation and will not return until [return date]. If this is an urgent matter, please contact [contact name] at [email and phone number]. Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as I can after my return.
Thank you for reaching out. I’m currently out of office until [return date]. Your message is important to me and I will respond as soon as I can when I return.
I appreciate your patience.
Do you use an out of office message whenever you’re on vacation or on a work trip?