You’ve finished your work and cleared out your inbox. There’s only one thing left to do: Write and set your out-of-office message.
It may sound simple, but if you don’t set the parameters accurately, you could have a world of trouble when you come back. There might be an inbox clogged with emails if you don’t include the dates of both leaving and your return or you don’t let anyone know if you’ll be checking in or not. Not including another person to contact in your outgoing message can also create unnecessary issues. Here are the necessary dos and don’ts when crafting your out of office message:
What to Include in Your Out of Office Message
An effective out of office message has the following:
- Date when you’re leaving
- Date when you’ll return
- The name and number of who can help instead of you
- If you are planning to be able to sporadically check emails or if you’ll be completely off the grid
Dates are essential! Each piece of information is vital to helping others get by and help you get the most of your time away. The dates are essential so that people can have a clear understanding of how long you’ll be gone.
Help people avoid bothering you! Providing the name and number of who can help them instead will prevent them from doing anything to get ahold of you during a crisis. This will help both parties, because you need the time away and may not be able to do anything when not in the office, and it will help them get faster results from someone who is available and likely to be near their email or phone.
Set accurate expectations. It is also important to set everyone’s expectations as to if you will be in contact at all. If you’re definitely going to be near your email and likely to check it, then it’s fine to say so. If instead, you’re going to be in the middle of the woods and without cell reception, it’s important that your coworkers and management know that calling or emailing you will be pointless until you return.
What to Avoid in Your Away Message
There are ways to irritate other people without being there. Here’s what to avoid:
- Being funny
- Don’t rub it in or give too much detail
- Commit your colleague’s help with a time limit
- Forgetting to use spellcheck
Please don’t try to be funny. You don’t know what mood other people will be in when they read your email, so be careful not to crack jokes when they may be having a terrible day.
Giving too much detail can create resentment. Just because you’re out doing fun things doesn’t mean that those at work really want to hear about it. Instead of potentially rubbing people the wrong way, tell anyone who is interested some stories when you come back. That will rule out causing issues via email.
Respect other people’s time! Even if someone agrees to cover for you, that doesn’t mean that they’re without their own work to do. Writing that so-and-so will help you “within two hours” is a terrible thing to do to anyone who is also doing their own work. Providing their name and how to contact them is enough.
Typos are the worst. Yes, you’re trying to get out of the office and this is the last thing you have to do before you leave, but don’t forget to proofread! This message could be going to any level of internal management or to any public email. Don’t ruin your past hard work to make a good impression just to undo it by forgetting to spellcheck!
Away Message Examples:
Here are our best examples of accurate out of office messages:
“Thank you for your message. I will be out of the office from June 2nd to June 14th and will have limited email access. If you need assistance while I am out, please contact Jane Miller at (555)-555-5555 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, I will respond to your message as soon as possible.”
“Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office from December 22nd until January 2nd and will not have email access. If you need marketing assistance, please contact Grace Keller at (555)555-5555 or email@example.com or if you need human resources assistance, please contact Jack Dianne at (555)-555-5555.”
“Thank you for your message. I am out of the office until July 7th and will not have email access. If this is an emergency, you can call me at (555)-555-5555.”
“Thank you for your email. I am out of the office from March 6th until March 13th and won’t be able to access my email. If you need immediate assistance that can’t wait until the 13th, please contact Dan in accounting at (555)-555-5555. Otherwise, I will address your email when I return.”
That’s how you write a simple and effective out-of-office message! Keep it simple, direct, and with all the information everyone else will need until you return.
If you’re looking for more advice on being in the workforce, you might find these useful: