In this day and age of the internet, we are never truly offline. There’s Wi-Fi almost everywhere you go, and mobile phones can get network signals even in places you expect not to have reception.
While this isn’t really a problem, it can be frustrating when all you want to do is relax and enjoy a life away from work. Sure, you can ignore work emails coming to your phone while you’re busy posting vacation photos on your social media, but can you really ignore them?
I understand all too well how challenging it can be to not reply to work or business emails. After all, you don’t want to be rude and feel like you are ignoring important clients, team members, and customers.
So what do you do? Enter the out-of-office message.
In this article, I will discuss how to write compelling autoresponder email messages with examples and some tips so you can truly relax when you’re on vacation.
Why Should You Have an Out-of-Office Message?
Before I go into detail about the benefits of having an out-of-office message when you leave work, I’ll first discuss what exactly it is. An out-of-office (OOO) message is a generic automatic reply that gets sent out when people try to reach you, and you are unavailable.
This can include when you’re off sick, traveling, on paternity or maternity leave, on vacation, or at any time that you know you will be out of your office, and it could take some time to respond to your email or messages.
Most of the time, out-of-office messages are crafted when you are going away for a while and won’t be available to answer emails in the following days.
However, it could be beneficial to use them for shorter absences, such as when you have meetings all day or at a conference when you have no opportunity to respond to emails instantly.
So, apart from informing others of your absence, why is it essential to have out-of-office messages when you’re away?
The most crucial aspect of any successful business is effective communication. With this in mind, out-of-office messages allow you to communicate well with your coworkers, managers, and clients whether you can address their concerns right away.
We all know how it feels not getting a response right away. It can be frustrating and often can delay our tasks. Nobody wants their vacation to be an inconvenience to other people.
So, by setting up your office email to send automatic replies, you are ensuring that people know how to continue even if you are unavailable. This also allows them to make alternative arrangements without causing any disruption to their work, especially with time-sensitive problems.
It will also stop them from following up on their emails, which means you have fewer emails to work through when you return to your desk.
While an out-of-office message is mainly used in work environments, you can also add it to your private email accounts. For example, if you are currently in between jobs, you can use out-of-office messages when you aren’t able to access your personal email for a while.
Thankfully, even if you’re using Gmail, you can still send automatic replies via the Vacation Responder option.
How to Write the Perfect Out-of-Office Message
Crafting a compelling out-of-office message can help you be more relaxed and confident when away from the office. However, the content you add to it can vary depending on your situation.
As this message is generic, everyone who sends an email to you will receive the same response. That’s why you need to keep all the details broad enough to make it applicable to everyone who knows your personal or company email.
That’s why if you expect incoming emails from specific clients or teams, it’s best to message them individually before you leave the office. This will make it easier for you to write a brief and general message.
So, whatever situation you’re in, here are the steps to write an out-of-office message:
Open With a Greeting.
The OOO message is like any other email, so it would be best if you opened the mail with a friendly greeting. The most important thing to remember in this step is that you’re addressing a broader audience, so you must keep it professional and generic. Don’t overthink this step. A simple “hi” or “hello” is enough.
Create an Introduction.
After the greeting, you need to get right into the details of your absence. You don’t need to craft lengthy explanations. All you need to do is inform them that you are not in the office for some time.
You can still provide a reason for your absence, but I don’t think that’s necessary, mainly if you have dealt with important matters individually before your vacation.
Don’t Forget the Date.
This is the most critical part of your out-of-office message and should be appropriately highlighted to help the sender decide and employ alternative actions. So, be sure to include the start date of your vacation as well as the end date.
This will avoid confusion and frustration and prevent them from sending you more emails while you’re away. Say goodbye to multiple emails!
Let Them Know When They Can Expect a Response.
Another important thing you must remember when writing an out-of-office message is setting clear expectations. Don’t just say that you’re not available for a while.
It would help if you also let them know that you may not be able to respond as soon as you’re back in the office. To be safe, it’s best to inform them that you’ll reply soon after your return.
Provide a Contact Person.
The perfect out-of-office message includes a contact person in case of urgent issues and emergencies. This person should know enough about your duties and responsibilities, so they can take effective action to address the problem.
You don’t need to train someone to do your job while you’re away. Instead, this person has information or answers to questions that might pop up while you’re away. This could also mean providing them access to files that your colleagues might need.
All you have to do is put in their email or contact number. However, be specific with your instructions so they won’t bother that person with trivial questions.
Put Your Alternative Contact Details.
You can provide alternative contact details to keep your mind at ease and ensure that you don’t miss any crisis at work. This is entirely up to you and the work you do. If you feel your contact person can handle this issue, you can skip it.
Otherwise, put your contact information on the automatic reply. However, be prepared to receive calls when you’re on vacation.
Essential Tips to Remember When Writing Out-of-Office Messages
Now that you know what to include (and what not to do) on your OOO message, here are some valuable tips that can help you craft the perfect professional automatic reply:
- Keep it concise and easy to read. You don’t want the sender to spend a chunk of their time dissecting your email. Make sure they can get all the necessary details in one glance and keep your sentences short and understandable. It’s also good practice to highlight critical information like your vacation’s start and end date.
- Write the message for everyone. One common mistake people make when writing an out-of-office message is directing it to a specific audience, such as only their clients or colleagues. Try not to do this. Instead, craft one for a general audience since you don’t know who will email you. Unless you need to have specific emails for particular audiences, then definitely go ahead and personalize it a bit more.
- Check your message for spelling and grammar issues. When corresponding with clients and colleagues, it’s a must to come across professionally. My recommendation is that you need to proofread it several times to ensure it’s free from errors.
- Use the correct tone. Write an out-of-office message as you would typically write a professional email. The tone and language depend on the culture of your company. Some companies use a more formal manner, while others are casual, so use what fits yours.
- If you struggle with writer’s block or just don’t know what to say, there is certain writing software that can help you overcome this with the use of artificial intelligence.
Automatic Replies and Out-Of-Office Message Examples
To give you a clearer picture of how your out-of-office message looks, I have crafted different examples that can be used in different scenarios. You can copy and paste them as it is, or you can edit out some parts and leave those that apply to your situation.
Here are some out-of-office message examples you can use:
Thank you for your email. I’m currently away from the office (option to include the reason of absence—in a conference, meeting all day) until (date), but I will respond to your email as soon as I can.
You can call me at (number) if you need immediate assistance. You can leave this section if you think it’s unnecessary.
Thank you for reaching out. I’m currently on leave and without access to email until (end date). During this time, I won’t be able to respond to your message.
If you need urgent assistance, please contact (name) and (contact number or email). Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible upon returning to the office.
I am currently out of the office from (start date) to (end date). I am on maternity leave and won’t be able to respond to your message right now, but I will reply as soon as possible once I’m back.
Here are some of my colleagues who will be taking over some of my duties while I’m away, so feel free to contact them with any concerns or questions:
Account-related concerns: Please contact (name) at (contact number/email)
Technical issues: Please contact (name) at (contact number/email)
If you need immediate assistance or other emergencies, please contact my manager (name) at (contact number/email).
Thank you so much for your patience! Looking forward to chatting once I’m back.
Thanks for reaching out. I’m away from the office, but I’ll be back on (return date). I’ll reply to your email as soon as I can.
For now, here are some resources that can help:
If you’re asking about (topic), you can check out more information here (link).
If you want to know about (topic), you can learn more about that here (link).
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Please contact (name) at (contact number/email) . Please contact my manager (name) at (contact number/email) for immediate assistance.
Thanks for your patience!
Funny Auto Reply.
Warning! Handle funny out-of-office messages with care. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys a little bit of humor in email correspondence, especially in a professional setting. If your company culture is casual, go ahead and use this. However, if you are employed in a more formal company, it’s best to stick with the professional out-of-office message examples.
A hoi there!
I am currently out of the office because of (reason). Unfortunately, I won’t be able to respond until (date). But once I am back, I will try my best to respond to every single email I receive while away.
It may take some time before I get to it, though. You know how answering emails can be overwhelming after a much-needed vacation. Not to mention the stack of work waiting for me (if you’re reading this – thanks, boss!)
Thanks for understanding. I promise you, I will respond.
Oh, and if you need assistance for emergencies, my colleague (name) is kind enough to handle them. You can reach them at (email). Just tell (him/her/them) I sent you, and they will look after you.
Remember, when crafting an out-of-office message, you need to manage expectations. Don’t just write dates there without thinking of the outcomes.
Can you answer all the emails on the first day of your return? Probably, if you’re only gone for a day or two. Most likely within a week if you don’t receive many emails.
But realistically speaking, it’s challenging to respond to emails right away. On a few occasions, it will take you days to respond. So, before you promise to get back to everyone on a particular date or “as soon as I’m back,” make sure you can achieve it.
It’s best to give a little time in between, so you won’t overcommit yourself too much.
While an out-of-office message can seem like just formality, it should be working for you and others. Make sure to give the sender a proper answer to why you’re not replying, so you can have a worry-free leave.
Finally, set realistic expectations to provide yourself with some time to adjust before returning to work.
What’s in your out-of-office reply?
It’s time to be the pilot of your life, not just the passenger.
Chris Bournelis is a blogger, search engine optimization, and content marketing specialist. He has been working in the online business since 2015. Join him here at ChrisBournelis.com for the best SaaS reviews and tips to get the most out of your online business.