Crafting the Perfect “Out of Office” Reply

Every time I go on leave for over a week I always struggle with what to write for my out of office reply. I’m sure I am not the only one that struggles with this. Usually I try to keep the same standard out of office reply when I know I’m going to be out of the office and just adjust the dates accordingly.

At most jobs, when you are going to be away from your regular scheduled work routine, it’s important that you set an out of office reply to let your peers or audience in this case know that you are currently out of the office. There are 4 (four) important things to remember when writing your out of office reply, check them out below and let me know what you think in the comments below:

  1. Shoot straight. – Once you have determined that you will be out of the office for a certain amount of time, make it known to your colleagues and peers that you will not be in the office via your out of office reply. The best way to start your out office reply is to open up with a short introduction that leads to explaining your absence. For example I would start mine off as, “Hello all, I am currently on leave and away from my computer”.
  2. Clarify your absence dates. This is simple, let your colleagues or audience know the dates that you will be out of your office or away from your computer. “I will be out of the office from 16 Dec – 4 January”.
  3. Give an alternate Point of Contact in your absence. If you have someone in your section or department that will be in the office covering your actions while you are gone it is best practice to list their contact information in your absence. I usually just include their name, phone number and email address, and of course check with them to ensure that they will be able to assist in your absence. “In my absence please contact Mr. John Doe at 907-000-1234 or John.doe.mil@mail.mil (haha)
  4. Closing. For military it is pretty standard for us to put out of office replies on our email anytime we are not at our normal “duty station”. There is no set way or best way to write your out of office message, but it is important that it shows you are a professional and will respond to their messages upon your return. For a closing I usually keep it short and to the point and then add in my signature block if applicable.

We’ve reviewed the basic steps to crafting your out of office reply so let’s put it all together. Your out of office reply should be clear, concise and communicate an additional contact in your absence. Take a look below at the out of office reply we have developed:

” Hello all, I am currently on leave from 16 Dec – 4 January and away from my computer. In my absence please contact Mr. John Doe at 907-000-1234 or John.doe.mil@mail.mil. I will respond to your email upon my return. [Insert signature block]

Other Ways to write Out of Office Reply:

  • Hello I am currently out of the office and will not have regular access to my email during this time. In my absence please contact (Name) at (email). If you are in need of immediate assistance please feel free to call or text me at (number). I will respond to your email upon my return.
  • Hello, I am currently away from my computer from 4 Jan – 7 Jan. During this time I will have limited availability to my email. If you are in need of immediate assistance please call or text me at (number).

How NOT to write an Out of Office Reply:

Hello I am out of the office conducting a secret mission in building a spaceship at NASA headquarters in Timbuktu 1 Oct – 1 Jan. Signed, Bill.

There are a number of things wrong with the above mentioned out of office reply.

  • It tells too much information. You don’t have to give the details of why you will be out of the office. Just simply let your audience know that you will be out. In the case of an emergency absence, simply state that due to personal or emergency reasons you will be away from your computer.
  • Also, this out of office reply mentions the specific location of where you will be. Depending on your job you can or cannot include this. For military, I personally rarely mention the location and details of where I am specifically located during my absence. it gives too much detail and some things are location sensitive and should not be shared with the public.
  • It doesn’t mention who to contact in Bill’s absence. if you have a counterpart that can assist in your absence and you have cleared it with them be sure to include their contact information in your out of office reply.

In the spirit of the Holiday seasons, don’t forget to put your out of office reply on while you’re enjoying time with your friends and family! And get ready for my next upcoming series!

xoxo,

Jasmine <3

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