An out of office message can say a lot about you. It can also be the deciding factor between a really great or really terrible vacation. This is why it’s important to pay attention to detail. Unless you want to be bombarded with work-related emails on your time off, it’s important to let people know you are away from your desk for the next few days. But setting an automated out of office message is not as easy as you may think. There are various factors that need to be taken into consideration. Here are the dos and don’ts when writing an out of office message.
What to include:
Dates for your time off
It is important to include the dates for which you will be unavailable and for when you shall return. The best way to avoid a clogged inbox is to include specific dates you will be away in your out of office message.
Reason for your absence
To customers, being out of the office does not necessarily mean you are not working so make sure you include a reason for your absence. If people know you are on vacation, they are less likely to contact you with work-related queries.
Alternative contact information
Urgent matters do arise which is why it’s important to include the contact details of a colleague who will be able to provide assistance.
What to avoid
Too much information
An out of office message should be short, sweet and to the point. Including irrelevant information is not only unnecessary, but too many details can also come across as bragging.
You may be known for your sense of humor but trying to be funny in your out of office message can come across as unprofessional, regardless of how witty your message may be. Without context, your humor may also be misinterpreted.
Promising a prompt response
Be careful not to make promises that cannot be kept. Avoid giving a specific time frame in which the customer can expect a reply. You don’t know for certain when a colleague will be able to respond to a query and you can also not anticipate how long it will take you to address their email upon your return. Your inbox may be flooded with dozens of emails to tend to.
Typos and spelling errors suggest that you are unprofessional. People may also think that you couldn’t care to make an effort to double-check your out of office email for errors. They may decide that this applies to your work as well. Take a few minutes to just check your message.
Here’s a sample template that you can use:
Thanks for your e-mail. I'm out of the office on holiday from [Start Date] to [End Date. I'll respond as soon as I'm able to when I return. If you need immediate assistance please contact [Contact Person] at [Contact Email]. Warm Regards [Your Name]