What’s so Important About Setting up an Out of Office Message
Work is important and most of us go for a career, but we also need to have a break from time to time. Summer vacations are over and you probably already soaked up as much sun as you can. However, Winter is coming, so you might want to go skiing, or just stay at home and hibernate while binge-watching shows on Netflix. Even if you don’t have any particular plans, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time and disconnect from work for a while.
However, your customers and co-workers don’t get that same pause button as you do. That’s why you should inform everyone that needs to know about your time off. You can do that with an out of office message, which is all we are going to cover in this post.
You should not wait until the last moment on your last day before the vacation to figure out how to write a proper out of office email. That’s why we are here — to help with some ideas for different types of out of office messages.
Table of Contents:
What is an Out of Office (OOO) Message?
An Out of office Message is the autoresponder feature within your email settings that allows you to automatically send a response when an email is sent to a specific email address. Typically, businesses will use the autoresponder feature to confirm receipt of an email, and to acknowledge and thank customers for an order that may have been placed.
Naturally, you want to help your clients and other business associates to contact you in the best and easiest way possible. For that to happen, you should provide out of office messages when you are not available.
With an out of office email, you provide the following information, preferably in a unique way:
- At the moment, you are not available;
- The exact time (date) of your return;
- Contact information (phone number) for urgent cases;
- Contact information of colleagues to be contacted in your absence;
Usually, people take leave for vacation, business traveling, maternity leave, or sickness. Additionally, sometimes employees that will no longer work in a company also need to provide an out of office message for the company’s customers, especially if they are in a high-level management position working closely with those customers.
How to Handle Being Out of Office
Setting up an out of office message is quite simple. It can be set using the auto-reply function of your mail provider or program – just don’t forget to turn it off when you return!
Turn On Vacation Response in Yahoo Mail/Gmail
Set up a vacation response to let your contacts know why you’re away or out of the office and when to expect you back. You can set up separate responses to use for different domains, such as one for your Yahoo email and another for your Gmail account.
Usually, you have the option ready and all you have to do is go to your email settings. Once you are there, you will see something like Automatic Replies, or even Out of office AutoReply, as it is with Gmail:
Activate an Automatic Reply (Autoresponder) in cPanel
Auto Responder is a cPanel mail feature that can be configured to automatically send predefined response messages to anyone who sends mail to a particular inbox.
If you want to learn how to set up your OOO message with a self-hosted email, you can easily do that directly from cPanel.
Why is an Out of Office Message Important?
One of the most important things to do when leaving office is to create an out of office auto-reply email and let your business associates and colleagues know how and when they will be able to reach you again. Do that even if you are planning on just resting at home because it’s the professional thing to do.
An out of office message lets you keep people informed and tells them how to proceed in your absence. You can also select options for urgent matters within your out of office message.
Such emails are a must, especially if you have long-lasting relationships with customers that need a prompt response. It would be very unprofessional, to leave without explaining why you aren’t answering. It’s like if you are talking to someone, you decide to just take off without saying goodbye, while they went to the bathroom to wash their hands for the 50th time because of the COVID-19. Rude!
Out of office messages provide an excellent chance for you to produce leads and enjoy your vacation in the best way.
How to Craft a Unique Out of Office Message
You can start by recognizing your backup contacts for the time when you are out of the office. Make sure that, when needed, they can be available to help customers instead of you. Meeting with your co-workers and making everything clear should be one of your top priorities. The person that covers you while you are gone should not be finding that out by receiving an email out of nowhere. Be professional and plan everything properly — you are about to take a break, after all.
In the time before your vacation, remind all of the co-workers on your team that you will be gone for the specific dates, while also making sure to note your vacation on all internal company calendars. People are busy and forget things. You might have shared that you will be gone two months ago, but it’s something they may have forgotten. Don’t neglect to remind everyone, because there might be some problems if that happens. Miscommunication is something that can be easily avoided, as it is in this specific case.
If you don’t clearly state the dates on which you will be disconnected from work, your office co-workers and clients will most likely send you multiple emails, clogging your inbox. That will make it quite difficult for you to catch up when you get back. Also, if you don’t include the name and contact information in your outgoing message for the co-workers who can help in your absence, your well-deserved and pleasant vacation time could get in the way of specific projects in the company.
What to Include
Here are some suggestions for what you should always include in your auto-reply emails when you are out of the office:
- The exact dates of your time off — If you are reactivating an old out of office message you, don’t forget to change the dates and double-check to ensure they’re the correct ones. Numbers are often inputted incorrectly.
- Provide clear expectations about your plans once you return – You may not be at the office for a longer period of time and you probably expect to find a lot of messages after your return. In that case, you should make sure to inform your auto-reply recipients that you may not be able to answer their call immediately. Of course, you will try your best to address all emails as soon as possible.
- The reason for your absence — People might still attempt to get in touch with you if they think you’ll be checking in. They’ll be less likely to try to contact you if they know you’re taking personal or vacation time.
- The colleagues who can help while you’re out — Provide the names, phone numbers, and/or email addresses of the co-workers that can take your place temporarily. 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
While you’re writing and activating your out of office message, avoid including the following:
- Don’t get into too many details — We know that you’re excited about your upcoming time off, but you don’t have to provide your exact plans. Noting that you will not be available is sufficient.
- Avoid trying to be funny when you have to be professional — Resist making jokes, except if you are sure the recipients of your message will get them and have a laugh. Otherwise, jokes can easily be misinterpreted and give the wrong impression.
- Don’t commit a colleague’s immediate assistance — You can’t predict how quickly your co-workers will be able to respond to emails in your absence, so make sure you don’t promise their immediate assistance. Make sure to also ask your colleagues for permission before you provide their email addresses and phone numbers in your out of office message; they also have work to do and might have a big project coming up that will make them too busy to be a temporary substitute.
- Typos — Your out of office message could go to anyone, from your manager to your top client. Avoid embarrassment by proofreading it carefully.
Out of Office Message Examples
You probably received a number of these emails, and thus you should be familiar with the information out of office emails provide.
Such emails can range from strictly professional and formal, to funny, depending on the occasion. You can use those messages in a way that would drive traffic to your website or serve as an instrument to form a stronger bond with your customers.
The majority of your out of office emails will go to recipients with whom you communicate regularly. If you are sure that there’s a certain level of familiarity with all of the people that get your auto-reply messages, consider writing something about yourself, a funny note, or a joke. That gives them an opportunity to develop a more personal relationship with you.
Classic Out of Office Messages
When it comes to professionalism, keeping things short and to the point is a good idea. What’s more, if you write a short auto-reply email, you don’t spend too much of the limited time you have left before your vacation.
Here’s an example for a classic out of office email:
I will be out of the office this week. If you need assistance while I’m away, please contact [NAME] at [EMAIL].
Lead Generation Out of Office Emails
Being gone doesn’t mean you can’t still be doing good for the company. With a lead generation email, you can inspire action in the receiver. Consider using the end of your message to call for action. You can ask your customers to check out your products, read your blog, or maybe become a part of your affiliate program.
Lead generation emails are the best when it comes to driving sales and promoting your content. Here’s an example template to inspire you:
This message is automated because I won’t be in the office until [DATE]. I will get back to you as soon as possible when I’m back at the office.
Meanwhile, feel free to get familiar with our newest article on [ARTICLE NAME AND LINK]. I’m sure you will find the content useful.
Speak to you soon,
Out of Office Messages for an Alternative Point of Contact
People are naturally impatient and when they are looking for answers to their questions, they want them as soon as possible. That’s why some recipients of your auto-reply messages won’t be happy if they just get some information that you are gone and have to wait for your return. In such cases, you need to provide an alternative point of contact for urgent matters.
After all, your goal is to always keep your business associates happy. For that reason, you should have a backup co-worker that will be able to cover some of your work while you are not available. Not only is this the professional way to go, but it will also leave your customer satisfied with the company’s service.
I’m not available at the current time. I will be back on Wednesday. I’ll get back to you then.
In case pressing issues that need urgent attention, feel free to reach out to [CO-WORKER NAME]. Give them a call on [PHONE NUMBER] or send a message to [CO-WORKER EMAIL].
Talk to you soon,
Promotional Out of Office Messages
When you’re away on holiday, you might not want to receive business emails that will distract your attention. But, you most certainly still check your social media channels.
That’s why it’s a good idea to direct your recipients to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram where they can get in touch with you.
Of course, very few people would be so pushy as to send you a private message about a business issue while you’re on holiday, but the odds are that you’ll amplify your social media reach and gain some new followers by including links to your social media in an OOO message.
I’m currently out of the office this week as I’ve taken some time off to travel. However, I’ll reach out to you when I’m back.
In the meantime, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as nothing can stop me from sharing some good marketing tips and advice – not even a holiday.
Until I’m back at the office, here are the links to my social media: [FACEBOOK LINK] [TWITTER LINK] [INSTAGRAM LINK]
Stay safe and I’ll get back to you — first thing on Monday.
Out of Office Messages for Networking Opportunities
It’s very likely that you’ll set up an auto-reply message while you’re at a conference or any other business event. What’s more, some of your prospects will be there as well, so you should use an opportunity like that to meet them in person and strengthen that relationship.
I’m currently out of the office between [DATES], as I’m attending the yearly WordCamp. Perhaps you will also be there and we can meet in person.
If that’s the case, feel free to text me at [PHONE NUMBER] and we can have a blast while sharing knowledge about WordPress over a cup of coffee.
Hope to hear from you,
Humorous Out of Office Examples
Funny emails are getting trendy, but they have to be used properly. If you are absolutely sure that your recipients will have a chuckle, go ahead and write a funny out of office auto-reply. It might make their day.
You can get quite creative and figure it out by yourself. However, here’s an example.
I will be out of the office for a week and will be back on [DATE]. I am planning on hitting the gym hard during those free days. However, don’t expect any change when I’m back (plans often get forgotten).
Consider also adding a funny GIF or a meme to such an email, some interesting but silly facts, or maybe include a short and harmless joke.
The Risks Attached to Using an Out of Office Message
Using autoresponder emails when you are not available at the office is a part of the professional communication between business associates. That said, you should be careful about the information you are sharing in your OOO messages.
Nowadays, it’s getting more and more frequent for criminals to use the information we share to their own advantage. They could even use that information to break into a home or an office.
Additionally, auto-reply messages are something spam senders welcome with open hands. When they send messages to thousands of random email boxes, if those spammers receive auto-replies, they will know for sure which of those email addresses actually exist.
Next time you’re setting up your vacation responder, consider using this quick guide to help you be more creative and professional when needed. Use your out of office message to inform, assist, or delight the email sender. It will be a pleasant exercise for you and might make them smile.
Feel free to share some examples of auto-reply messages that you have used, or such that you’ve received. Include those in the comments below, and we can have a chat.
The latest tips and news from the industry straight to your inbox!
Join 30,000+ subscribers for exclusive access to our monthly newsletter with insider cloud, hosting and WordPress tips!