How to write the perfect out-of-office email

Perfect greeting card
How to make the perfect greeting card
July 18, 2022
travel books
Top 5 travel books: the travel writing to pack this summer
August 3, 2022
Perfect out-of-office email

With the vacation season just around the corner, the Business Optimizer team investigates how to write the perfect out-of-office email text.

It’s summer and we’re entering peak “out of office” season. If the thought of writing an out-of-office email fills you with dread, panic no more! This guide is here to help.

#1. Schedule so you know your out-of-office replies are set correctly

First and foremost, don’t forget to switch on your out-of-office notifications before you leave for your vacation. Add a reminder to your diary or calendar now for the afternoon before you’re due to depart. This way, you can remind yourself to check before you leave the office that your out-of-office notifications are on and scheduled correctly!

#2. Stick to a professional style

While it may be tempting to add jokes or funny gifs to your email, don’t let your impeding vacation mood mar your judgement. It’s important to keep your out-of-office replies professional.

Your out-of-office is message is the only way you’ll be representing your company while you are away – so make sure you do it well!

Remember that it isn’t just your friends and colleagues who’ll be receiving your out-of-office reply. And first impressions count! You don’t want a new contact to be turned off at the first hurdle because of a goofy, unprofessional or (worse still) offensive out-of-office email.

Keep it professional.

#3. Be on brand with your tone

If your brand is a young, hip, dynamic brand it’s a good idea to be relaxed and informal in your tone (while keeping the content professional!). This way, your message matches your contact’s expectations of your brand.

If you are working in a highly professional environment, then a more formal tone is expected.

#4. Think about what you need to say

Think about who might be contacting you and why when you plan the content of your out-of-office reply.

At a minimum, you need to include:

  • The dates you’ll be absent
  • A succinct reason for your absence
  • Points of contact in your absence.

Spend time considering who the best points of contact are. For example, is it better to direct people to a self-service section of the website first? Or do you have an arrangement with a colleague who is covering your work?

It may be that you need to include multiple points of contact, based on different levels of urgency and/or types of enquiry. Offer people the options they need and be clear (but concise) about the circumstances (the when and the why) in which your contacts might choose to speak to different people.

#5. Keep it brief

There’s no need to add extraneous details to your message. Mentioning your vacation is fine, explaining where you are going and what you plan to do whilst there is less so. Advising that you are ill is fine, explaining the details of your ailment or treatment doesn’t belong in your email out-of-office reply.

#6. Example text

If you need further help, this basic text offers a starting point for you to work with:

  • Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office until [return date] for [reason]. I’ll reply to your message on my return.

If you need assistance prior to my return, please reach out to [name of colleague + job title] at [email address or preferred contact details].

Thanks so much!

[your personal footer]

What next?