Readying yourself for some time away from work may seem pretty straightforward. After all, you’ve cleared your to-do list and tied up loose ends.
What else is there to do? Well, before you can hit the reset button with some much-needed rest, you’re going to need to write and activate an effective out of office message on your email.
It may seem like a simple task, but if your out of office message is unclear or incomplete, it can cause issues while you’re out and upon return.
Writing an effective out of office message is more than just stating that you’re away. You’ll need to clearly state the dates you’ll be gone, the Name and contact information of coworkers who can assist in your absence, and when exactly you plan on coming back.
Without a killer message in place, your hard-earned vacation time could get in the way of your future work or any ongoing projects at the company.
Not sure where to start? Below, we’ve laid out all of the basic do’s and don’ts for creating an effective out of office message that works in your favor. First, let’s see some good out of office message examples and then get down to basics.
Examples of Professional Out of Office Messages
Below, we’ll include examples that will work for the 19 most common reasons individuals step out of the office for a given period of time.
General out of office messages can be used for any reason you may need to be away from work. Whether it is a vacation or a conference, these general message examples will do the trick. Note that many take on a more relaxed or informal tone.
Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office from March 19-25 for a work conference. If you require any assistance during my absence, please contact John James [email and phone number] if you have any questions or concerns while I am away.
Thank you for your message or inquiry. I will be out of the office today and will not be checking email. I will be returning on May 5th.
If you require any assistance or have concerns prior to my return, you may reach me at [phone number]. I appreciate your patience and understanding.
Thank you for your email. I am out of the office at this time and will not be checking email. I will return on October 31st.
If this is a pressing or urgent concern, please contact Linda Smith at [email and phone number]. Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible after my return to the office. All the best, John James.
Thank you for reaching out. I will be stepping out of the office from [start date] through [end date] and will be returning on [date of return].
If you require any urgent assistance or help while I am away, please contact Jim Johnson at [email and phone number]. I will respond to any emails as soon as possible upon return. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Thank you for getting in touch! I am out of the office for vacation from [start date] until [end date]. During this time, I will not be checking my email.
If you require immediate assistance or have a question, please feel free to contact my colleague Tom Asper at [email and phone number]. For all other matters, I will respond to messages as soon as I can upon return. Thank you for your patience!
Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you for your email! I am currently away and will be back in the office on [return date]. For confidentiality reasons, your message may not be forwarded to another person.
If you need to get in touch with someone, please contact my colleague Millie Stevens at [phone and email]. All other questions and concerns will be addressed as soon as possible upon my return.
Short Term Absence
These types of messages work best when you’re just stepping away for an appointment or will not be in the office for a few hours.
Thank you for your email. I have stepped away from my desk for an appointment from 12 PM until 2 PM today, March 9th. I will not be checking email during this time.
If you have an urgent concern, please contact Joe Wilson at [email and phone number]. For all other matters, I will respond once I am back in the office.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you for getting in touch. I will be away from my desk for a staff meeting from 1 PM until 3 PM today, January 7th. During this time, I will not have access to email.
If you have any questions or concerns that need to be addressed immediately, please contact Ty Marsh at [email and phone number]. For all other questions, I will respond as soon as I can upon return.
Out Of Reach
An out of reach message works when you will not have access to email or simply will not be checking your email while away. You can also choose to include that you will not be checking phone messages during this time.
To whom it may concern,
I will be out of the office with limited or no email access and will not be able to return any messages until I return on October 16th.
For any concerns, please reach out to my colleague Mark Adams at [email and phone] and he will take care of anything you need until I can get back in touch.
All the best,
Out of Office
If you’re going to a work conference or something similar, you may want to choose to discern that you may still be checking emails while you are out of office.
Thank you for your inquiry! Unfortunately, I am away from the office leading a conference from November 1-4. With that said, I will be checking email throughout the day and will try to respond to messages as they come in (if you have an urgent matter, please flag as high importance).
For immediate assistance in my absence, please contact Nick Berk at [email and phone]. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.
Often illness, surgery, treatment, or even the illness of a loved one may require you to be out of the office for an extended period of time. In a medical out of office message, you may want to detail why you’ll be away so that contacts can respect your privacy and healing process.
Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office on medical leave from [start date] until [end date]. During this time, I will not be checking messages or responding to emails.
If you need assistance or have a question, please contact my colleague Amy Ryan [email and phone] with all concerns during this time. I thank you for your understanding and patience as I recover.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you for getting in touch. Currently, I am out of office on medical leave from [start date] until [end date]. I will not be checking my messages during this period of recovery.
For any concerns or questions, I will refer you to my coworker John Smith [Email and phone] for assistance. Upon return, I will strive to respond to any messages as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Parental leave often requires a long absence spanning several weeks or several months. It is important to clarify just how long you will be gone and who will be taking over your accounts during your time away.
Due to a new addition to the family, I will be away on maternity leave from August 1st until December 2nd. During this precious time with a new little one, I will not be checking or responding to work-related emails.
All of my accounts and clients will be handled by Patrick Henry during this time. You can reach him at [email and phone} for any questions, concerns, or projects. Thank you for your understanding.
Thank you for getting in touch. Due to the birth of my [son or daughter], I will be away on paternity leave from [start date] until [end date].
During this time, all of my accounts and clients will be handled by the very talented Amelia Harkins. She can be reached at [email and phone] during regular office hours. Thank you for your understanding during this exciting time.
Earning a sabbatical can be a wonderful thing, but you’re often away from the office for up to a year or more. Here, it is essential to let clients know just how long you will be away and who will be handling your workload during your absence.
Dear sir or madam,
Thank you for your email. I have currently taken a year-long sabbatical that will stretch from [start date] until [end date].
During this time of [restoration or study], I will not be checking or responding to work-related emails. Instead, all of my duties will be transferred to the very talented and adept Jim Markey.
Jim can be reached at [email and phone] during regular office hours. I appreciate your patience and understanding.
Some companies celebrate major holidays in different ways. Many will shut down for an extended period of time, while others will only observe the day of the holiday itself. Let your contacts know that you may not be in the office during the holiday season.
As per company policy, our offices will be closed from December 22nd until January 1st. I will respond to any messages as soon as possible upon return.
If there is an emergency, you may reach me at [phone number], but I will not be checking email messages at this time. Thank you!
Thank you for your message! I hope the season finds you well. The office will be closed from November 22nd through the 27th in observance of Thanksgiving.
During this time, I will not be checking email messages. If there is an emergency, feel free to contact me at [phone number]. Otherwise, I will respond to all messages as soon as possible upon return.
Everyone deserves a vacation from time to time. Your out of office message should state exactly which dates you’ll be gone and when you’ll be back.
Thank you for your email. I will be away on vacation from [insert dates here] and plan to take a step back and unplug during that time. If your message is not pressing, I will try and respond as soon as possible upon return.
For urgent matters, contact my colleague Adam Reyes at [email and phone number.]
Thank you for messaging. Hopefully, this email finds you well! I am currently on vacation from [start date] until [end date]. During this time, I plan to step back from tech and will not be checking emails.
For urgent matters, please contact my coworker Adrienne Roe at [email and phone]. All other concerns will be addressed as soon as possible upon return. I appreciate your understanding.
If you find yourself attending a conference or work-related training, you will want to say as much, while still keeping the door open for networking or mingling.
Thank you for getting in touch. I am currently out of the office attending [Name of conference] in [Name of city]. While learning new and exciting aspects of the field, I will be periodically checking my email.
If you require help immediately, please contact my colleague [Name] at [email and phone number]. If you find yourself attending the conference, feel free to connect. I can be contacted via cell phone at [number].
What is an Out of Office Message?
An out of office message is a brief email text that you craft when you are leaving the office due to medical reasons, parental leave, vacation, or simply do not want to be reached by email.
The message is an automatic sent as a reply to contacts or clients who attempt to reach you while you are away from the office.
This is useful because uninformed clients or colleagues aren’t kept waiting for a response. Instead, they know that you are simply out of the office and will return at a future date.
A solid out of office message conveys all of the most important facts of your absence. This includes:
- How long you will not be reachable when contacts can expect an answer
- Reason for absence (optional)
- A personal note.
It is also helpful to refer your contacts to another colleague who will be in the office to assist with any questions, concerns, or ongoing projects at the company.
Why Is An Out of Office Message Important?
To you, it may not seem like a big deal if you need to step away from work for a few days or weeks. After all, the world will keep on turning, right?
Well, yes, but it could lead to some major confusion among your clients and contacts.
An out of office message is essential if you will not be able to respond to emails for any period of time.
These automatic email replies will let your contacts know why your response is going to be delayed and how their needs can be met while you are out of office.
Let’s face it, coworkers, clients, and contacts almost always expect a fast response to pressing emails. Many want solutions to their problems as soon as possible, specifically in fields such as marketing or customer service.
If you’re away and simply do not respond to these emails, it could reflect badly on you and the company you work for. It can also cause some major headaches when you do decide to return to the office.
With a concise, polite, and professional out of office message, you can let clients and coworkers know precisely why you cannot respond right away.
These messages can be used to explain why you might be gone for a day, week, or even several months. People often craft out of office messages for the following reasons:
- Travel or vacation
- Heading to a conference or workshop
- Taking sick leave or sabbatical
- Parental leave
- Taking a personal day
- Stepping out for a meeting or appointment
As mentioned above, an out of office message is useful for an extended absence. Also, prove very handy even if you’re only going to be out for a day or even an afternoon.
Essentially, an effective out of office message ties up loose ends and ensures that no one is left waiting for a time-sensitive response.
This can save your working relationships with clients and create less work for you upon return. Generally, when you craft an out of office message, you may want to create one for internal colleagues and one for external contacts. We’ll touch more on that below.
How To Craft An Effective Out of Office Message?
Crafting an effective out of office message often means knowing your audience. It also involves tailoring your message to reflect your reason for leaving or being out, as well as the type of relationship you have with those on your contacts list.
Generally, creating an effective out of office message boils down to six key steps:
Some people also choose to include a seventh step, which is a short personal message. Let’s break it down step-by-step below.
The first step in crafting an out of office message is coming up with the title. Often, this is something simple like “Out of Office Reply.”
Keep it short and sweet, so everyone involved knows exactly why you’re not immediately available for work.
The second step is to start the message out with a greeting. Think of it as starting any other letter or email.
Begin with something formal like “Dear sir or madam” or something a bit more fun like “Hi there, Thank you for your email!” The tone you take will depend on the type of clients you deal with and your overall rapport with internal colleagues.
Third, you’re going to want to include the most important information. We’ll touch upon what exactly you need to include in the section below.
Generally, this is where you’ll speak about your overall reachability or the time frame in which you’ll be gone.
Make sure to touch upon when you’ll be reachable again and not just the exact time of your absence. This leaves a better impression.
A good example is something along the lines of “I will be back in the office on [date and time].”
Forwarding or No Forwarding
Fourth, you’ll want to decide if emails are going to be forwarded or viewed by a colleague. If emails aren’t going to be forwarded, share this in the text by writing, “This message will not be automatically forwarded.”
Fifth, you’re going to want to mention whether or not a colleague will be stepping in to answer questions or concerns on your behalf.
If so, add in their contact information and a request to get in touch with this person if any issues or problems arise while you are away.
Finally, you wrap up your email as you would any standard letter. Feel free to offer a thank you and sign with your Name or go a bit more formal. We’ll include examples of formatting further down in the article.
What to Say in an Out of Office Message?
Now that you know a bit about your message’s overall format, you may be wondering what exactly you should say.
For the most part, your tone is going to depend on the variety of work you do, the types of clients you work with, and your overall relationship with those in your office.
For example, if you’re working with very high-profile clients, you’ll want to take on a more professional tone.
If you work in the arts or a more creative field, you can choose to take on a more warm or relaxed tone. Whatever tone you do take on, a good out of office message will always incorporate the following elements:
A start point and end date of your absence:
Obviously, this will depend on your reason for being away. Medical leave may involve more of a grey area with timing than a planned vacation.
However, try to include the start date of your absence and when you will be returning to the office. This allows clients and colleagues to know exactly when to expect you to be back in your post.
The reason for your absence:
If you are absent for a very private or personal matter, you do not have to go into very much detail.
However, giving a reason for your absence will prevent colleagues and clients from still attempting to get in touch with you if they think you might check in.
Those around you will be less inclined to try repeated contact if they know precisely why you are away.
Coworkers who can help while you’re away:
Provide names, phone numbers, and email addresses for any coworkers who can be contacted to help while you’re away.
Not only will this lighten your load upon return, but it will keep clients happy and appeased in your absence, as their work is not interrupted due to your leave.
Once these core areas are addressed in your out of office message, you can add in more if you’d like or simply keep it to the point.
Some people choose to get a bit more personal with their message or include some comic relief.
Others just want to get to the point and let people know the basic information. As long as you say the most vital information, you should be covered.
How To Word an Out of Office Message?
Wording an out of office message is where many people get caught up or feel overwhelmed. After all, you want to include all of the most important information without sounding too formal or too informal.
How do you word an out of office message? Start by thinking about how you typically converse with those on your contact lists.
Are emails typically pretty relaxed and cordial? If so, your out of office message can be worded in the same way.
Just write out a regular email with all of the information regarding your absence and sign off as you would in your daily conversations.
If emails are typically very formal or professional, then you’ll want to word your email in the same manner.
Use a proper greeting, include vital information in a professional format, refer your clients to colleagues who can help, and sign off in a way that ties up any loose ends.
When it comes to wording and style, it is ultimately up to you to decide what suits your relationships and your company. As long as you avoid the five most common mistakes, you should be in good shape.
Wording your email is all about including the basics, choosing the right tone, and making sure it sounds like the emails you would typically write.
5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Out of Office Message
In crafting an out of office message, there are generally five mistakes you’re going to want to avoid. These pitfalls are common, but they can cut into the point of your message or leave a bad taste in your client’s mouth. Here’s what not to do when creating an out of office message.
Giving Away too Much Detail
You might be excited about your grand European vacation or sabbatical. Odds are, your clients and your colleagues are not going to share in your enthusiasm. That’s why you don’t need to share your exact plans.
Even if you’re taking a 10-day cruise of the Mediterranean, refrain from saying so. Simply note that you’ll be on vacation or will be out of the country for travel. Giving away too much can actually backfire.
Don’t Try To Be Funny
Unless you work in an office or environment where comedy is the norm, resist making any kind of jokes in your out of office message. What one person finds funny, another may find distasteful.
Jokes can easily be misinterpreted, especially via email. This could give clients or colleagues the wrong impression. Odds are, you don’t want to have to put out any fires or clean up any messes when you return.
Committing a Coworker’s Immediate Help
Yes, you should, by all means, refer your clients to a coworker or colleague who can help in your absence. However, you should not commit your colleague to a specific time frame.
After all, you can’t possibly know how long it will take your coworker to respond to emails in your absence.
They will be dealing with their own work and yours, so do not promise immediate assistance.
Additionally, you’re going to want to talk to your colleague about securing their help while you’re away. Sometimes, they might simply be too busy to take on the task.
Giving An Exact Response Time
It can be tempting to please your clients or colleagues by telling them you will respond the day you return. Realistically, getting back to everyone the day you return to the office is probably not going to happen.
You’ll have lots to catch up on aside from emails and likely won’t be able to get to everything all at once. Avoid saying you’ll return emails within a specific time frame. Promises broken look way worse than promises never made.
Incorrect Grammar and Typos
As is the case with any email you send professionally, you’re going to want to avoid any typos or grammatical errors.
Your out of office message could go to anyone, including managers and top clients. Proofread your message and make sure that there aren’t any embarrassing typos or errors.
As long as you avoid these five mistakes and include the most pertinent information, you should be able to craft an out of office message that works in your favor!
There are so many ways to write and format an effective out of office message. At the end of the day, the content of the message will be shaped by your line of work and the relationships you have with your clients/colleagues.
You can choose to take a more formal or informal approach to the out of office message depending on how you typically interact with contacts via email.
At the end of the day, as long as you address the basics: start/end date of leave, a colleague or coworker who can be contacted, and the nature of your leave, you should be able to craft an effective out of office message that impresses both clients and coworkers.