How to Write Out-of-Office Messages for Any Situation

How to Write Out-of-Office Messages for Any Situation

How to Write Out-of-Office Messages for Any Situation

If you work in an office, you will likely know the unparalleled joy of turning on your out-of-office message – you are likely escaping for a few personal days or taking some much-needed vacation time .

The ease of an auto-response message means that you can easily let co-workers know when you are likely to return.

It also means that if their message is urgent, you can direct them to someone who can answer their inquiry.

Out-of-office messages are now so common that unless an auto-response is received, the sender will assume that you are available to answer their email within working hours.

Out-of-office messages are quick and easy to set up (especially if you use software such as Microsoft Outlook), and you can even set up pre-determined timings so that your auto-response starts and finishes on specific dates or times.

But writing the perfect out-of-office message can be tricky.

You may want to consider:

  • Do you have an internal policy that you need to follow?
  • Should you have a different message for internal co-workers and external contacts?
  • What tone of voice should you be using?
  • How can you make sure that your out-of-office auto-response remains professional yet welcoming?

This article has 10 tips to help you with all those questions.

Why Should You Always Use an Out-of-Office Message?

Out-of-office messages are useful for office workers because they indicate whether you are available to respond to a message or not.

Everyone is used to getting instant feedback.

If you are working in a job role that is communication based – perhaps a marketing, PR or HR job role – then you need to make it clear if you are unable to provide an immediate solution to a query.

Otherwise, people may feel you are being rude or inefficient.

Out-of-office auto-responses take away the hassle of letting people know whether you are working or not.

Whether you are taking a few days sick leave, going on vacation or even heading into a lengthy meeting, an out-of-office message can help manage expectations professionally and courteously.

Common Reasons for an Out-of-Office Message

There are many reasons why you may deem it necessary to implement an auto-response.

You Truly Can Take Time off Without Responding to Emails

Nowadays, communication takes place 24/7.

With many people having access to their work emails on smartphones, it is no wonder that many office workers feel pressured to continue working .

However, everyone should remember that they have a right to switch off from work .

An auto-response can ensure that you are left alone to enjoy your time off. You will not have to manually field emails and direct them elsewhere.

Your out-of-office message can also let your contacts know when you are likely to return and who they can contact in the meantime.

Your Auto-Response Could Prevent Misunderstandings

If you are working in a fast-paced environment, your out-of-office message could be a vital tool to aid communication and prevent any unfortunate misunderstandings.

If someone is under the impression that you are at work and they need an immediate response, then receiving an out-of-office message could help them to proactively find a solution to their issue.

For example, if you are working in a busy press office or marketing department, you may receive an email from a journalist about an emerging situation.

Your out-of-office message will not only let them know if you are unable to respond but it could provide enough information to help them manage their deadline.

Without an auto-response message, they may assume you ignored their urgent email, and this can sour your relationship.

Reduces Your Future Workload

Your out-of-office auto-response is a useful tool to help minimize any stress or unexpected workloads upon your return to work .

A carefully written out-of-office message can help redirect the barrage of emails to other contacts who can deal with the inquiry in your absence.

Typically, your out-of-office message should contain details such as:

  • When you are likely to return to your desk
  • Who they can contact for help in your absence

If you provide enough information in your out-of-office message, then the sender will be able to get the answer to their query and you will not have to deal with that email on your return.

Can Be Used as an Effective Marketing Tool

Out-of-office responses are an often-underused marketing tool.

If you have a mailbox that is for general inquiries (such as a hello@company.com or info@company.com email address), then you likely receive a wide range of emails about a variety of subjects.

You could set up a specific auto-response for these mailboxes that, whilst setting expectations about if they should expect a reply or not, directs them to other relevant departments (perhaps a customer service representative).

If it is a customer-facing email account, you could also use your auto-response to let customers know about any special offers you have running or any upcoming events.

It could even direct them to relevant helpdesk information published on your website – and more hits on your website mean more potential sales.

Ultimately, the out-of-office response can be used to engage with your sender and help them feel supported whilst they wait for a response.

What Should You Include in Your Out-of-Office Auto-Response?

Perhaps writing an out-of-office message seems like an easy task. After all, it is only one or two sentences.

But you must ensure that your out-of-office message remains professional, courteous and conveys all necessary information.

Some businesses may have internal policies of what to include in their auto-responses.

Check your employee handbook to read any directives are and make sure that you are using the right information for internal and external contacts.

Here is a handy checklist of what should be in your next out-of-office message:

Subject Title

Your out-of-office auto-response will be sent to your sender in the form of an email. Therefore, make it clear in your email subject heading that this is an automatic response.

Most people typically put 'Out of Office' or words to that effect in their subject heading; this is usually sufficient.

Greeting

Your out-of-office message should be personable yet professional.

You need to remember that it will be received as a stand-alone email, therefore it needs a choice of greeting that feels courteous yet welcoming.

Try to avoid colloquialisms and instead start your message by saying something like:

'Hi, Thank you very much for your email.'

Leave and Return Dates

State clearly when your leave began and your expected return date. This means that the sender will know how long you have been away from your desk and when you are likely to reply.

Your Reason for Absence

This is not compulsory and is entirely your decision.

Some people choose to include a reason (perhaps they are away for work-related reasons); others may find that they prefer to keep the reason for their absence private, especially if it relates to a medical or private matter.

You may decide to state your reason so that colleagues know whether they can try and contact you in other ways or not.

For example, if you state you are on a training course or in a meeting, a colleague may feel it is acceptable to try and call you directly.

Provide an Alternative Contact

It is good practice to include details of someone who can answer an inquiry on your behalf during your absence.

This means that if the query is time-specific then the sender can still get an answer and relationships remain positive.

However, if you anticipate that you will receive a flood of emails, make sure you have permission from your co-worker to include their contact details in your out-of-office message.

Consider Sharing Promotional Messages

You could choose to include some promotional messages or other helpful links within your out-of-office message.

For example, if you know that your auto-response will be sent to external contacts, could you direct them to a page on your website where they could get additional help or support?

Could you highlight any particular promotional offers or upcoming events that they may be interested in?

This is a good opportunity for you to continue building positive relationships with your external networks even during your absence.

Final Sign Off

When ending your out-of-office message , it is always courteous to thank the person for getting in touch and reiterating that you will be responding to them in due course.

Do not forget to sign your name and remember to be professional.

Generally speaking, an out-of-office message should be formatted like a business letter or email but, depending on the audience and your brand, it may be less formal.

Maintaining Professionalism – What to Avoid in Your Out-of-Office Message

Now you have learned what you should be doing, you should learn what you should not be doing.

Try to avoid the following:

  1. Giving too much personal detail – Remember your out-of-office message reflects your professional self. You do not want to give away too much detail, especially if the reason for your absence is due to private/family concerns. Your message should be short and concise.

  2. Giving contact details without permission – If you are directing external contacts towards a co-worker, make sure that you have their permission. You do not want to inadvertently add your colleague onto a mailing list or create an excessive workload for them to cover whilst also doing their own job.

  3. Do not say you will respond ASAP – This may be a surprise. You would think that you want the sender to know that you will respond. However, you simply do not know how many emails you will receive and how many may warrant a swift reply. This may take more time than you realize, so you must give yourself some leeway to respond timely yet accurately. Giving people expectations means you can disappoint them.

  4. Do not use humor – It is likely you have seen examples of ‘humorous’ out-of-office responses, but remember: humor is very subjective. What one person finds funny, another finds cringe-worthy or even downright inappropriate. Remember that your out-of-office message could be read by your boss or other C-suite executives. Therefore, play safe and always remain professional.

  5. Pay attention to what you have written – Your out-of-office message will reflect who you are as a professional. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have proofread your message and avoided any spelling mistakes or unfortunate typos.

10 Out-of-Office Messages for Every Scenario

To help you understand the different ways that an out-of-office message can be used, here are some out-of-office messages to use or be inspired by:

Bonus Tip #1

The fewer steps involved in something, the more likely someone is to do it. Make email addresses you supply into clickable hyperlinks that direct the reader to the mailto URL (for example, mailto:jane.bloggs@company.com ).

Bonus Tip #2

Unless you can guarantee your out-of-office message will be entirely internal, write out your dates in full (for example, 4th March {YEAR}).

This is because the UK and US format the date differently – 01/03/21 means the 1st March 2021 in the UK but the 3rd January 2021 in the US.

1. Basic

This is what a ‘typical’ out-of-office message should be like. It covers a range of scenarios and can be used for both internal and external contacts.

Thank you very much for your email. Unfortunately, I am currently away from my desk (starting from 3rd January 2021 and returning on 5th January 2021) and will have limited access to my emails.

If your enquiry is urgent, please contact Jane Bloggs in the marketing department. Her email is jane@company.com . Alternatively, I will respond in due course upon my return to the office.

Kind regards,

[name]

2. Conference

If you are attending a work-related conference, you may wish to include your contact details in case you receive any emails from people you have met whilst networking.

You may also wish to name drop the details of the conference to reiterate your personal commitment to your career development .

Thank you for your email. I am currently attending the Institute of Marketing conference in New York City and will return to the office on 5th March 2021. This means that I have limited access to my emails.

If your enquiry is urgent, please contact Jane Bloggs in the marketing department. Her email is jane@company.com .

If you are also attending the conference, I would welcome the opportunity to speak to you in person. Please feel free to visit our stand (no.14), which is located within the exhibition hall B.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

[name]

Ten Perfect Out-of-Office Message for Any Situation (Plus Tips to Write Your Own)
Ten Perfect Out-of-Office Message for Any Situation (Plus Tips to Write Your Own)

3. Vacation

If you are taking vacation leave then the chances are you will be away for several days in a row.

Therefore, it is important contacts know who to turn to in your absence and that you reiterate to contacts that you will be completely switched off from work-related issues.

Thank you for your email. I am currently on vacation (1st March–9th March 2021) and will have no access to emails during this time.

If your email is urgent, please forward it to Jane Bloggs in the marketing department who has been briefed on all active campaigns. Her email is jane@company.com and her phone number is 07700 900077.

I will respond to all other emails upon my return.

Thanks,

[name]

4. Holidays

You must check with your internal policies as to holiday leave. Some companies may be happy for you to add some festive cheer to your out-of-office message, whilst others prefer to limit any references entirely.

If your entire company is closed during this time, make sure you are aware of any staff members who will be ‘on-call’ to answer crisis issues.

Our offices will be closed for the holidays from the 22nd December–26th December 2021. However, if your inquiry is an emergency, you can contact holidays@company.com and a representative will get back to you.

I will return to my desk on Monday 27th December 2021 where I will be able to respond to all other matters.

Happy holidays!

[name]

5. Maternity Leave

If you are taking maternity leave, the length of your absence will depend on your company policies.

You must make it clear who your external contacts should speak to during your time off.

Thanks for getting in touch. I am currently on maternity leave from 1st January 2021–1st January 2022.

During my absence, all inquiries should be forwarded to Jane Bloggs in the marketing department who will be taking over my day-to-day tasks. Her email is jane@company.com and her phone number is 07700 900077.

Sincerely,

[name]

6. Medical Leave

If you are taking time off for medical leave, colleagues and contacts need to know that they must give you time to recuperate.

Whilst you do not need to share medical information, you may wish to refer to the reason for your absence so that your privacy is respected.

Thank you for your email. I am currently away from the office on medical leave, with no access to emails.

My anticipated return date is March 1st 2021. During my absence, please forward any queries to Jane Bloggs in the marketing department (email: jane@company.com ) who will be able to respond during this time.

Thank you for your patience and understanding,

[name]

7. Internal

Most systems will allow you to have different out-of-office responses to internal and external contacts.

You may find that your internal response can be far more informal than your external message.

You could even use your out-of-office message to update co-workers on a specific project.

I’m currently out of the office from 02.27.2021, due to return on 03.03.2021. If you have a query about the current [details] project, all of the latest files are saved in the P Drive on the marketing server.

Jane can also update you on the latest progress of the project – her extension number is #433

Thanks,

[name]

8. After Hours

You may have an email address set up for customers to contact you.

It is beneficial to set up an auto-response message that reiterates your commitment to customer care whilst still reminding them of your working hours.

If you suggest they go to a certain section of your website, make it easy and link them there.

Thanks for getting in touch. Please note, our working hours are 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Monday to Friday. If your email reaches us outside of these times, we will respond as quickly as possible on the next working day.

If you have a question about one of our products, why not check out the FAQ section on our website.

We’ll be back in touch with you as soon as we can.

Thanks,

[name]

9. Content Promotion

You may wish to use your out-of-office message to highlight any new written content that you have recently published on your website.

Not only does this provide further engagement with customers whilst you are unavailable, but it could also drive further traffic to your website and increase your potential to make new sales.

Thanks for getting in touch. I am currently unavailable with limited access to emails, but I will respond in due course upon my return to my desk on 8th March 2021.

In the meantime, if you have a question about our latest products, why not read our most recent blog article 'What to wear to the office' or download our latest style guide directly from our website.

You may even find a discount voucher code available for you to use when making purchases online!

Alternatively, if your inquiry is urgent, please contact the marketing team directly by emailing marketing@company.com

Thanks

[name]

10. Business Lead Generation

It is also important to remember that your out-of-office email message could be used to generate additional business opportunities.

As your auto-response will be sent to anyone who contacts you, try using it as an opportunity to encourage people to sign up to your mailing list, register for an exclusive event or boost your social media following.

Thanks for sending us a message. Unfortunately, we’re unable to answer your message right now – however, we’ll make sure it’s read as soon as we get back to the office on March 1st 2021.

In the meantime, if you have an interest in our company, why not sign up to receive our weekly emails.

As well as providing fashion tips and style advice, there’s also the opportunity to enter exciting competitions and benefit from exclusive voucher codes.

Alternatively, if social media is more your style, then why not follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Twitter. We’d love for you to join our community!

Thanks

[Company Name]

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this list of out-of-office messages will inspire you.

It is important to remember to remain professional yet welcoming. Your out-of-office message should reflect you as an individual, as well as adhere to your internal policies.

Whether you are sending an out-of-office message to internal colleagues or external contacts, they must be given two particularly important details:

  • The date of your expected return (if possible)
  • Details of who to contact in your absence

You also need to remember to turn off your out-of-office message when you return. One of the easiest tips is to use your email program's date setting when you set it up so that it automatically turns off on the day of your return.

When used correctly, your out-of-office should help to maintain professionalism and continue to build new contacts during your absence.


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