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How to write an effective out of office message


Today I thought I would share with you my thoughts on Out of Office messages for your email.

I love them. They tell people when I’m on holidays, on a course for a couple of days…but I’ve often wondered if my standard message is good enough.

My usual out of office message has been quite short and to the point:

Thanks for your email.

I’m [on leave/on a course/doing something very important] and will action your email upon my return on Monday. Please contact reception for urgent matters on [phone number]”

I read other people’s out of office messages to get ideas on what I do or don’t like about them. Some are short and some are honest. In this day and age, it’s becoming expected of many of us to be accessing our work emails on our iPhones or home computers and I’ve realised that it’s becoming a necessity to spell. it. out. to people that I’m not checking my emails, even when I say I’m not in the office.

Before going on my most recent holiday, I took a couple of minutes to find good examples of out of office messages. There are plenty of bad examples, but this example from the Microsoft Outlook templates site was the one that I liked the most:

Using this example, my standard out of message is now

Thanks for your email, I’m currently [on leave/out of the office] with no access to email.

I will return 9.00am on Monday 13th and action your email then.

If you need assistance before Monday, please contact reception on [email address] or [phone number].

Kind regards, Laura

And hopefully my message is being more helpful when I’m not around.

Do you use an out of office message?


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About Rah Gardiner

Hi there, I’m Rah and I’m the face behind Smarter Admins. I currently work full-time as an Executive Assistant, but I have also been a Secretary, Customer Service Assistant, Receptionist, Office Coordinator, Editorial Assistant and Administrator. I started full-time work over 17 years ago—before I even finished high school—and I haven’t looked back.

7 comments

  1. I despise the ridiculous amount of emails my organisation and boss send. In fact I just sent you a Wednesday rant on the subject of group mails.

    I refresh my out of office regularly, and often put it on when I am actually in the office. If this is the case it says

    I currently have limited access to my emails. If your query is urgent please call me on xxx. Alternatively I will respond to your email by xxx

    Can you guess how many calls I have had since employing this tactic? About 3, proving my point that most of my office has verbal email diarrhoea.

    Love the blog

  2. Thank you so much Sharron!

    So you put on your OOO when you’re going into meetings as well? I’ve wondered if it would be helpful if I started doing that…

  3. I like the tenor of the outlook template. But I can’t tell you how much I hate the phrase “action your e-mail”. Huh? Surely it’s not gramatically correct. I think you’d have to change it to “take action upon your e-mail” but even that sounds too much like corporate buzz-speak. I think something like, “I’ll respond to your e-mail at that time” might sound better.

    • You’re very right Eric! I use that phrase moreso because I can’t think of a better alternative.

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