How to Write an Effective Out-of-Office Message

Constant access to multiple gadgets has become our new norm and it’s now too hard to stop checking emails and task managers even on our time off. Nevertheless, it’s crucial for your mental health to be offline at least on vacations.

However, it’s clear that your colleagues and clients deserve a timely response. An out-of-office message can be a great help as your coworkers know you’ll get their message and when they can expect to get a response.

Out-of-office messages are automatic email replies, that let people contacting you know you aren’t at work at the moment. People reaching out to you are aware that you’re unavailable, how much time they need to wait until they get a response or whom to contact in your absence. Employees usually leave these messages when going on vacation or sick leave.

Make sure your automatic reply is clear and complete, so it won’t cause misunderstanding or confusion while you’re out. Read on to find out what an effective out-of-office message should look like.

What Should Be Included in Your Out-of-Office Message?

An informative out-of-office message should consist of the following details:

The dates of your time off and when you’re going to return. If you don’t clearly indicate the dates when you’re out, your colleagues and clients might send you hundreds of emails, thus making it annoying and time-consuming for you to get into a normal routine after you get back.

A brief explanation of why you’re absent. You may think that it’s unnecessary. However, if they know you’re taking vacation time or simply sick, they’re less likely to bother you.

Contacts of teammates who can help in your absence. Don’t miss this information. Otherwise, your vacation time might turn into torture. Write their names, emails, phone numbers and job titles, so that people know who to contact for certain tasks.

Providing this information will give receivers two options: to wait for you or continue without you. It usually takes a few lines, so the automatic email reply should be quite short.

What Information Should Be Avoided in Your Out-of-Office Message?

Automatic replies may seem a great opportunity to express yourself or share some personal information. Remember though that you should keep it professional or you risk tainting your reputation in the eyes of coworkers and clients. Avoid the following:

  • Providing unnecessary details. Since it’s a message related to your work, it’d be too informal to tell everyone about your exact plans or the name of the disease. It’s totally enough to mention that you’re on vacation or ill.
  • Being too silly and funny. Maybe a new client appears while you’re out. Just imagine what his reaction would be after he reads a harmless joke. It can be misunderstood and give the receiver a bad first impression.
  • Getting receivers’ hopes up by telling them you’ll respond as soon as you get back. You’ll probably not be able to hit the ground running on the day you return as there will be too much work to catch up on. Therefore, it’s better not to make a promise about the exact time or date when you’re going to respond.
  • Promising your colleagues will help right away. Your teammates will apparently be too busy while you’re gone, so you can’t promise in the out-of-office message that receivers get immediate help. Ask your colleagues if you can mention their names in the first place.
  • Grammar, spelling mistakes and typos. Anyone from your colleagues (including top managers) to your clients could get your automatic reply. So make sure to proofread it thoroughly or if you’re in a hurry, try Linguix’s AI-powered writing assistant that edits as you type. 

Examples of Clear and Concise Out-of-Office Messages

Use one of the following templates for your automatic reply if you’re running out of time or just looking for examples:

“Hi there,

Thank you for reaching out. I’m away from the office for [reason], but I’ll be back on [date].

If it’s an urgent matter, feel free to contact Sarah Wesley at [email and phone number].

Best Regards,

[Your Name]”


“Hey,

Thanks for your email. I’ll be out of the office from Nov. 5-13. If you need help while I’m away, please reach out to Tom Brown at [email and phone number] for questions regarding sales or Mary Williams at [email and phone number] for questions about marketing.


Best,

[Your Name]”


“Greetings,

I appreciate your message. I am out of the office until [date] with no email access. If you need immediate help before then, you may call me at [phone number].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]”

In conclusion

Out-of-office messages aren’t just a formality, they’re essential to keeping processes in order when employees are absent. They also remind others on what days you’ll be unavailable and lower their expectations. Therefore, keep it succinct, error-free and informative.