Out-of-Office Messages: How to Write Them and Why You Need Them

That vacation of yours is quickly approaching, and you’re excitedly preparing to be out of office. However, there may still be one more thing you should look into before heading out — yes, we’re talking about out-of-office messages.

More specifically, we’re talking about creating the kind of automated email that will keep your clients and coworkers informed and leave no one frustrated that they haven’t heard from you. Read on to learn how to craft better out-of-office messages.

What should you include?

In order to keep your clients up-to-date and to address any follow-up questions, make sure your out-of-office message includes the following main elements:

  • A professional note that you’re going to be offline.
  • The reason you will be offline, broadly stated (e.g., if you’re going on vacation or headed to a professional conference).
  • The exact date of your return.
  • The person to contact in your absence.

Even though these four elements seem simple at first, it’s easy to overthink this or to focus on some side details that might hurt the overall effect of your message.

For starters, here’s an example of a good out-of-office email: “I’m currently out of office, on vacation from July 12 to July 16. I will be offline during this period. If you have an urgent question or need, please contact my assistant Sam at [insert email address]. Otherwise, I’ll get back to you when I’m back.”

This message is very straightforward. Notice that it ticks all the boxes described above and not much more.

What are some common mistakes?

Here’s where many out-of-office messages go wrong:

Mistake #1: Not emphasizing that you’re offline

You need to make it clear that you’re not going to respond before a given date. If you don’t, you might still get messages like, “OK, but I just need this small little thing … ”

Mistake #2: Providing too much detail

While it’s helpful to say you’re on vacation, your customers don’t need to know that you’re hiking through Vietnam and then taking a rest in Dubai. Remember that they’re at work, and they would prefer to be on vacation, too. Keep it short and general.

Mistake #3: Committing to a response

Don’t say that you’re going to respond on a specific date (usually the first day you’re back). You don’t know if that will be possible, considering there will likely be other, more important things to take care of first.

How should you send your message?

Every modern email inbox allows you to set an out-of-office auto-response. Do that first.

But, there’s more! There are two other things you should consider doing with your out-of-office message:

  • Send a note to key clients/contacts.
  • Leave a note on your website.

First off, take your out-of-office message and send it to your key clients or contacts — people you’ve been working on in current projects.

If you run a small business — where you’re the primary person actually handling the work — then it’s also a good idea to add an out-of-office note to your website.

Where should you set your message?

When adding your message to your website, you can place it in a couple of key spots.

1. Add as a widget

If you run your site on WordPress.com, go to My SitesCustomize.

Create a new Text widget, put your out-of-office message there, and place it in a sidebar.

2. Add below your main call to action

You should only do this if your business can’t function without you at the helm.

If your site runs on WordPress.com, you can add an out-of-office note in the same panel where you edit the content of your web pages.

Happy out-of-office time!

We hope this quick guide has been helpful and that you now have your perfect out-of-office message set in place. You’re now officially ready to take time away from your business and enjoy your vacation without a care in the world.

Photo Source: Unsplash


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