Estimated reading time: 7 mins
We all take vacations to go offline and reconnect with your inner self. To make these vacations free from any annoyance from your office, you need to put up an out-of-office email message to tell your colleagues not to bug you. However, you do not have to be bland and boring, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to create a particular impression on people. Your message needs to sound as if it came from you.
Gone are the days of the default automated out-of-office messages – now you see people going from funny to snarky to witty in informing the colleagues of their unavailability. I have some interesting auto responses for you. We’ll look into all kind of messages – from those having a more serious, professional tone, to the ones that are just too funny (and sometimes inappropriate).
Before we discuss the examples of out-of-office responses, it is important to ensure that you use perfect English. The last thing you would want is to have someone be put off by your incorrect vocabulary or grammar. You will need to have immaculate command of the written business English correspondence. If you are unsure about your caliber then it is a good idea to use Grammarly to check your grammar free of cost.
Some serious corporations will probably have a stipulation to use a specific message, written in very formal English. However, smaller companies, startups and marketing agencies might allow you to create your own out-of-office messages and being creative will be adored by everyone.
The Classic Replies
Let us begin with the more conventional out-of-office messages. These messages should include the following information:
- How long will you be away for, including the exact dates
- When will you be returning to office and be in a position to reply
- If you will be replying to the emails at any time while you are out-of-office
- The alternative contact person’s details who people can reach out to in your absence (if appropriate)
Example 1 – Staying Formal
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, I am currently on leaves and will return on (END DATE).
For immediate assistance during this time, please contact (ALTERNATE CONTACT PERSON’S NAME) on (PHONE #) or (EMAIL ADDRESS), and s/he will be able to get back to your enquiry.
Else, I will be responding to your email after I return.
Example 2 – Precise and Crisp
Many thanks for your email. I cannot answer your message promptly as I am out of office until (END DATE).
Since your email will not be forwarded, please get in touch with my colleague (ALTERNATE CONTACT NAME) on (PHONE #) or (EMAIL)
Thank you very much for your email. Currently, I cannot answer your message promptly. I will come back to you after my return on the (DATE).
Example 3 – Keeping it Direct
I will be out of office from (START DATE) to (END DATE) with limited or no access to emails.
In case your message is urgent, please contact (ALTERNATE CONTACT’s NAME) on (PHONE #) or (EMAIL ADDRESS).
Example 4 – For Customer Care/Sales Departments
Thank you for your email. I am currently out of office and will not return before (END DATE).
In case there is an urgent query, please contact (ALTERNATE CONTACT’s NAME) on (PHONE #) or (EMAIL ADDRESS).
We value your business and I will respond to you immediately when I return to work.
The Contemporary Replies
I have also seen some people send me much shorter out-of-office messages that I think might be equally effective. In fact, it might show you as a person who cares for other people’s valuable business time. These short messages can also be effective for those who do not have any colleagues or alternate contact persons who can effectively respond. Some of these messages also seem rude; however, if it was a close client or important colleague, s/he will definitely have other contact persons to reach out to.
Example 1 – The One-Liners
I will be out of office until (END DATE) and respond to you at the earliest.
Example 2 – A Little More Informative (and Helpful)
I am out of office returning (END DATE).
For enquiries, please call/email (OFFICE NUMBER/EMAIL).
Example 3 – No Messing Around
Thanks for your email. Will be back on (END DATE).
Example 4 – Offering Hope
I am out of office but responding to emails occasionally.
The General Rules
Whichever type of lingo you decide to go ahead with, you will need to follow these basic guidelines before finalizing your out-of-office message:
- Be Brief in Your Messaging – The emailer might have to inform other people and send out a few emails in response to your automated message. So please be brief and do not write an entire essay to add to the person’s misery.
- Clearly Communicate Your Dates – You need to clearly state for how long you will be out. This will also minimize people from sending you emails repeatedly just to check if you are back. You should also add an extra day or two to your return date, just to give you enough buffer to go through all emails and respond on time.
- Refrain from Being Pompous – Being condescending can be as bad as being rude. This can make people jealous and possibly even send you more emails just out of revenge.
- Be Creative and Funny (if your job title allows you to) – It is always a good idea to show your personality! The emailers might feel disappointed or worried by your unavailability, so being creative or funny might just put a smile on their faces. You do not even have to disclose your exact plan – just be creative with your messaging.
- Watch Out For the Typos – What is worse than not setting up an automated out-of-office message? Sending one with spelling mistakes! Trust me, you will get many LOLs and face palms on your return if you will not wait to check your spellings and grammar.
- Sending Autoreply Once per Contact – Not doing so might have you end up sending an auto responder to a coworker who is also on vacation; starting an infinite loop of emails (causing hell for everyone else).
You will also need to keep in mind the following basic out-of-office etiquettes before you hit the road:
- Make Sure Your Calendar Is Up To Date – Businesses that use Microsoft Outlook allow coworkers to have visibility into your work calendar at all times. So, make sure your calendar is not outdated if you want to avoid disappointing your colleagues and holding up projects. You should follow this simple professional workplace courtesy in your offices. Period. Here is a great video to help you understand how to set up and use your calendars in Outlook.
- Letting Your Close Coworkers Know – It is vital to inform your immediate team about your absence. You can do this by sending out an email to all of your coworkers, letting them know of your leaves, your expected date of return and who to contact in your absence. Additionally, you can also set up a calendar appointment to give your team a visual reminder of your unavailability (this is particularly helpful for them while they schedule meetings). Just make sure that you do not send out reminders for the appointment and send it out to only those coworkers who really need to know. The executive in a different department does not really need to know that you will be partying in Ibiza.
Funny Out-Of-Office Messages
Now, let us look at some of the hilarious out-of-office messages that I found online:
- The Unapologetic One – This is an automatic notification because I am not in office. You would not have received anything at all if I were in.
- The One Looking for a Switch – Thank you for your email. I am currently out of office, giving a job interview. Wish me good luck!
- The Never Ending Queue – Thank you for your email; it has been added to a queue. You are currently in 334th place and should expect to receive a reply in approximately 21 weeks.
- The Infinite Loop – Please respond to this email so I know you received this message.
- The Unattended Wait – Hi, I am reading your email. Please keep your inbox open for my response.
Scheduling and maintaining automated out-of-office messages is vital in this day and age where all communication is done online. While there is no hard and fast rule to writing a perfect response, it is a important to keep in mind the basic etiquettes and guidelines for an effective message. I also encourage you to have a look at this fantastic blog on Why Being Articulate Is an Essential Business Skill as having strong communication skills will really help you in preparing well-written emails. Let us know your thoughts and share your favorite out-of-office auto responder message or if you received any interesting responses to your message after coming back to work.