Out of the office responses

The holidays are drawing ever nearer, and you’re itching to get out of the office. You’re in the process of preparing to leave on the right note, and have sent out all your thank you mailers, but have you thought about your out-of-office auto responder?

How often have you received an abrupt, almost rude out-of-office message from someone who clearly slapped it together as an after-thought? Some of the worst out-of-office auto responders leave recipients feeling as though they shouldn’t have bothered sending their message or email in the first place. You may see a few responses which are riddled with spelling errors, contain the incorrect dates (probably left over and unedited from the person’s last auto-responder message), and which are simply so terribly put together you get the distinct impression that the sender hates their job.

The dos and don’ts of out-of -office auto responders are simple:


  • Don’t leave it until the very last minute. If you write the message five minutes before you’re about to dash out the door chances are that it will leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth.
  • Do let people know how long you’ll be away for. Check and double-check the dates you put in the message.  Bonus tip: You’ll probably be returning at the start of the new year, so ensure you’ve got the year correct (you’d be surprised at how many people get this simple detail wrong).
  • Don’t use a brief, rushed one-liner and expect that to suffice. Think carefully about what kind of impression you want to make and uphold.
  • Do demonstrate a sense of the occasion. Your message needn’t be impersonal and stand-offish. You can make it a bit festive and fun while keeping it professional.
  • Do check that the out of office setting is actually functional by testing it out a few days before you go on leave. If there is a problem you’ll be able to contact your IT support team or consult Google.
  • Don’t forget to include details about who the recipient can contact in case of an emergency. This is a good idea especially if you are away for an extended period and will not have access to your email or work phone. If you are leaving a company you should also provide a forwarding address so that recipients know who to contact when you leave, or who will be assuming your role.


What does a good auto-responder message look like then? Here’s one you can adapt:


Dear ________

Thank you for your [message / email]. I am out of the office with [limited / no] access to my [email / messages]. I am away from [insert day and date] until [insert day and date].

If you require assistance during my absence, kindly contact  ___________ [insert contact person’s name and surname] on [insert email address / telephone number].

I wish you and yours well over the festive season and holidays and look forward to speaking with you in the new year.

Best regards



There you have it! A painless out-of-office auto responder message that you can save as a template and adapt every time you are on leave or away from your desk for an extended period!

Since this is the season to give, you may like to read and share these blog posts with your friends, family, and colleagues these holidays:



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