How to Write an Effective Out-Of-Office Message

“Partying hard in the Caribbean. Will be back on Thursday. If you receive any weird texts that make you question my sanity, remember, they aren’t me!”

Have you ever received the above out-of-office message? Or a similar kind? Of course not! You probably would have been fired before you can even send that out.

Writing an out-of-office message can be a challenging task to do if you don’t know how to do it right. So if you are unsure, or just want to spice up your out-of-office message, well, read on!


What to include in your out-of-office message

A good out-of-office email reply incorporates the following elements:

  • The exact dates of your time off — If you are simply re-activating the message you used during your last time away, make sure you change the dates, and double-check to ensure they’re right.
  • The reason for your absence — People might still attempt to get in touch with you if they think you’re on a business trip or at a conference. They’ll be less likely to try to contact you if they know you’re on vacation or out of town for the holidays.
  • The people who can help while you’re out — Provide their names, phone numbers and/or email addresses. If you handle multiple areas, specify each person’s area of expertise so colleagues and clients know exactly where to go for assistance.

What to avoid in your out-of-office message

While you’re writing and activating your out-of-office message, sidestep these pitfalls:

  • Giving too much detail — Sure, you’re excited about your upcoming week on the beach, but send too much information in your message and people might think you’re bragging.
  • Trying to be funny — Unless you’re a comedy writer, resist making jokes. They can easily be misinterpreted and give the wrong impression.
  • Committing a colleague’s immediate help — You can’t predict how quickly your coworkers will be able to respond to emails in your absence, so make sure you don’t promise their immediate assistance. On that note, ask your colleagues for permission before you provide their email addresses and phone numbers in your out-of-office message; they might have a big project coming up that will make them too busy to serve as your substitute.
  • Telling people you’ll respond as soon as you return — You’ll have plenty of work to catch up on the day you get back, so avoid saying you’ll return emails in a particular time frame. You don’t want to make a promise you might have to break.
  • Typos — Your out-of-office message could go to anyone, from your manager to your top client. Avoid embarrassment by proofreading it carefully.

The One Time you can Plagiarize

With all that in mind, here are some ways that you can craft an effective out-of-office message.


The Classic

If you prefer to keep things short and sweet, this one has your name stamped all over it. So if you work in a company that prefers directness, or where veering into playful humour is a bit off brand, then this message will work for you. Just make sure you check the 3 most essential pieces of information every out-of-office message needs: how long you will be gone, if or when they can expect a response during that time, and who to contact in the case of an urgent matter. And then it stops right there! So easy!

Example: Hi, thanks for your email. I’ll be out of office from [date] to [date], and will not be accessing my email during that time. If this is an urgent matter, pls contact Bob Chong at bob.chong@blog.com. Best, [name].

The Lead Generator

There’s never really a bad time to collect leads or subscribers. I mean, you’ve got a 50-50 chance that your out-of-office message will be read by someone who already knows you, is actively reading your emails, and wants something from you. Doesn’t this sound like a great time to share content that helps build trust and drive more sales?

Example: Hi, and thanks for writing! I’m out of the office with no access to email until September 3. If your request is urgent, you can contact [email] for assistance. Otherwise, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible when I return. While you wait, why not subscribe to our fantastic newsletter? You’ll get actionable tips once per week geared toward helping you grow your online business. Join us here [link].

The Social Media Booster

Are you always trying to amplify your company’s social media signal? (Ahem! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to stay updated with the latest!). Well, your out-of-office message can help you accomplish that:

Example: Hey there, I’m out of office this week, but my Facebook signal is always on. Seriously, I’ve got robotic wonder thumbs! (No, not really). I never fail to share fascinating tips and tricks about tech related matters. So, until I’m back at my desk, won’t you follow me [link]? Whether you follow me or not, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible upon returning to my desk on July 17. Best, [name].

The Anticipator

Knowing your audience, and anticipating what they are emailing about can help you work the sales funnel. So why not send them your Sales Deck while you are away, so that when you get back, you can dive right in to the nitty gritty details about the possible deal you are going to get!

Example: Hey there, and thanks for writing! I am currently on leave now, but will get back to you as soon as possible. Did you email me to ask about our [products/service]? Well then, don’t wait! Get our Sales Deck here now! It’s the bees knees. Chat soon, [name].

The Hand-Off

Sometimes your position is so crucial to the company that people will need to have someone to turn to in your absence. Well, in that case, it’s often best to keep things professional by telling people when you’ll return and who they can contact in your absence. But if your situation is a bit less formal, you can also have some fun.

Example: I’ll be out of office until September 3. If your message is urgent, please reach out to the lovely and talented Jack Lim at james.lim@blog.com. If you have breaking news to share, contact our hard working managing editor, Jane Tan at jane.tan@blog.com. Just make sure your news is juicy. Jane has no time for your shenanigans!

The Read-My-Stuff

If you write, and you publish, then you’ve got content to promote. So why not use your out-of-office message to make anyone who reaches out to you aware of it?

Example: Hello, thanks for getting in touch. I’m out of the office until September 3 with limited access to email. But never fear! I’ve left you with some helpful writing tips to read and share. [give a few blog article links]. I’m looking forward to connecting with you when I return.

The Jokester

If you’re known in the office for your witty humour, well, you don’t have to stop making people laugh just because you’re not physically at your desk. Humourous out-of-office messages are becoming more popular nowadays. Of course, this also depends on your workplace and industry culture. If you get a green light for this model, well then, the sky’s the limit, so have some fun with it!

Example: Hi there, I’m currently busy contemplating the purpose of those little umbrellas they put in drinks and will be too lost in thought between [date] and [date] to respond to your email. You have my deepest apologies. If this is an urgent matter, you can always contact Natalie Wong at natalie.wong@blog.com. If it’s not, I will do my best to respond within the first few days of my return on [date]. Best, [name].

The Totally Unreachable Entertainer

Well, if you are absolutely unavailable, but want to deliver a humorous and quirky message, you can copy the example below! Moreover, if you include an image or a picture, it increases a person’s information recall 2 days later by 55%! Of course, this message will require personalization, time and effort each time you are on leave.

Greetings from the Playa, I’m currently lost in the Nevada Desert burning a giant effigy with near zero access to phone or email from [date] to [date]. If it’s super urgent, you’re welcome to parachute into Black Rock City and locate me somewhere between 3:15 & G (see map below). Otherwise contact [email] for enquiry matters. Regards and Namaste, [name]. [inserts map photo below]


The DOs and DONTs of Humour

Let me just say it outright – it’s okay to have some fun with your out-of-office message in most cases, but there are a few simple rules you should always follow to make sure that, ultimately, your message is both useful and professional.

  • Do check your company’s policy on out of office messages. If there’s no firm policy, it might be best to check in with your supervisor and have your message approved in advance.
  • Do know your audience. If you send more formal emails during your working hours, don’t create an informal out of office email for your downtime.

If you are using Office 365, here’s how you can create an out-of-office message.


And if you want to install or lean more about the benefits of Office 365, feel free to contact us today!


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