It is holiday season for many parts of the world and one of the questions I am asked about is how to write a professional and effective out of office message.
Some people reject the idea and prefer to just keep on top of emails by checking them regularly, still replying to emails as they come in, so they can stay in touch and do not come back to a mountain of emails.
For others this does not really allow them to switch off, relax and take a proper digital detox from the demands of work, as they feel they still need to keep an eye on things. However, it is still important to manage expectations of colleagues, clients and suppliers, so people are not left hanging and wondering why you are not responding to their emails.
Even if you plan to occasionally check in to make sure everything is alright, which is what I personally do, then I would still recommend setting up an out of office automatic message, so people know there may be a delay in your response.
So, here are the professional ways to write out of office messages in English.
First of all some general principles for out of office messages:
- Keep it short and simple: do not try to add lots of personal or work details. The key message you want to communicate is you are away.
- Be clear if you will be accessing emails while away, and if so, confirm how frequently you will be checking them.
- If you mention a contact that can help in your absence…
- Do make sure you ask them before you head off on your holiday!
- Check your holidays do not overlap with theirs.
- Remember to include their contact details.
- Do not over-commit on how quickly they will respond.
- Let people know when you will be back and that you will reply but be careful not to over-promise. Most people do not manage to reply to all their emails on day 1 of being back from holiday.
- Keep the tone of voice professional.
- Check before turning it on. It is easy to leave writing your out of office message to the last minute as you are finishing your packing or rushing out the door, but spelling and grammar mistakes look unprofessional, especially if your message is sent to everybody who contacts you for the period you are away.
Some suggested ideas on subjects for the out of office message:
- Out of office until xxxx (insert date)
- On annual leave from xxxx to yyyy (insert dates)
- Away from the office xxxx – yyyy (insert dates)
- Currently away on holiday until xxxx (insert date)
- I am out of office on annual leave
Recommended wording for out of office messages:
Thank you for getting in touch. I am currently away from work on annual leave from xxxx to yyyy (insert dates).
I have limited access to my emails while away, so I will get back to you when I can and certainly on my return.
Look forward to speaking to you soon.
Thank you for contacting me. I am out of the office on holiday until xxxx (insert date) and will only occasionally be accessing my emails.
For urgent matters, please contact zzzz (insert name and email address).
I will reply to you after my return on xxxx (insert date).
Thank you for your email. I am on annual leave until xxxx (insert date) and will have no email access while I am away.
If you need immediate support, please email zzzz (insert name and email address). Otherwise, I will respond to your email when I am back.
Whether you choose to put on an automatic out of office message, or not, hope you manage to switch off at some point during your holiday and relax!
Victoria Rennoldson, Founder of Perfect Cuppa English
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