Posted by: Jack Henry | September 9, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Out of Office Notes

Good morning, everyone. I hope your summer has treated you well and that you had the opportunity to use some vacation time. I know that I certainly enjoyed feeling free for about a month between both COVID shots and the Delta variant running rampant.

I ran across today’s topic recently. I know, it would’ve been more helpful a few months ago, but better late than never, as they say. In this department, we often get requests about how to start or end emails, and I thought this article seemed related and practical for everyone: the out-of-office (OOO) message.

Grammarly offers great advice about when to use an OOO message, how to write one, and then they provided several samples. Here are the pertinent parts of the article, along with the sample templates.

When to use an out-of-office message

It’s best to set up an out-of-office message whenever you’re unable to respond to emails during regular business hours. OOO messages are appropriate for short periods of time, such as doctor’s appointments or leaving work early for the day, as well as for longer absences, such as multiple-day vacations or parental leaves.

How to write an out-of-office message

Out-of-office messages don’t need to be elaborate; as long as they contain the essential information, that’s good enough. Some people like to jazz up their messages with details and light humor, but those are optional.

Specifically, a good out-of-office message includes three pieces of information:

  1. The dates you’ll be gone
  2. A succinct reason for your absence
  3. Points of contact for further assistance in case the matter is urgent; if you have multiple points of contact, identify who should be contacted for particular matters

These are the necessities to help your colleagues or external contacts get by while you’re gone. It gives the receiver the option of waiting for your return or proceeding without you, and it satisfies their curiosity so they don’t assume you’re gone for other reasons.

You can cover all this information in just a few sentences, so out-of-office messages are usually quite short. On top of the facts, it helps to add some friendly greetings and polite gestures, such as “thanks for your message,” or “let’s talk soon!”

How NOT to write an out-of-office message

Vacations and work leaves can bring out the silliness in people, but keep in mind that out-of-office messages are still work messages.

Be professional, and don’t say anything too informal. Even if you talk casually with your coworkers, people from outside your workplace might be emailing you, maybe even with new work opportunities you hadn’t expected. You don’t want to make a bad first impression when you’re not even there!

Moreover, avoid putting too much pressure on yourself or the colleague you’re sending people to if they need help. Don’t say things like, “They’ll help you right away” or “I’ll respond as soon as I get back.” Set realistic expectations for a time frame so people can properly organize their schedules, but don’t set them up for disappointment.

Best out-of-office message examples

Let’s take a look at some out-of-office message examples so you know what to aim for. These double as out-of-office templates or boilerplates, so feel free to copy and paste them with your own information added.

Ol’ reliable

[Your personal greeting],

Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office until [return date] for [reason]. I will be happy to reply to your message when I return.

If you need assistance in the meantime, please contact [name of colleague + their job title] at [email,
phone, etc.]

[Your personal closing and signature]

All business

[Your personal greeting],

I will be away from the office until [return date] for [reason] with no access to email. If your request is urgent, please contact [name of colleague + their job title] for assistance at [email, phone, etc.]. Otherwise, I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible when I return.

[Your personal closing and signature]

Lil’ charmer

[Your personal greeting],

Thanks for your message! Unfortunately, I’m away from the office for [reason] and won’t be back until [return date]. I’ll be happy to respond to your message when I return, but if you need urgent assistance, feel free to contact [name of colleague + their job title] at [email, phone, etc.].

Thanks again, and sorry for any inconvenience!

[Your personal closing and signature]

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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