Many remote and hybrid employees find it tough to unplug and leave work behind for an extended period. And, even when they go on a holiday, they feel tempted to respond to emails. In reality, 82% of employees work on vacation, but this trend is counterproductive.
Working from home does not imply that you are not entitled to time off to recharge your batteries. Remote work is not meant to be a substitute for taking annual leave. Even if you don’t have definite vacation plans, it’s critical to unplug from work and focus on leisure activities.
When you’re away from the office, it’s a good idea to mark the time in your calendar and set up an “out-of-office” message.
Out-of-office (OOO) emails are a practical way to inform employees and anyone outside your organisation that you will be unavailable for a predetermined period. Furthermore, they convey essential information such as your anticipated return date and alternate point of contact during your absence.
This post discusses the significance of an out-of-office message and provides a few creative ideas on how to write one.
Why Is an Out-of-Office Message Important?
One may wonder, “Do you genuinely need an out-of-office message when working remotely?” The most straightforward answer is yes.
An out-of-office message serves several purposes. Firstly, in the traditional office, it’s easy to see if your coworkers are at their desks. But the opposite is true in remote offices, so OOO is a perfect way to tell people you’re unavailable.
Secondly, setting an email autoresponder is also essential for yourself. Often, working online means that you need to be ‘always on’, as people expect you to be available all the time. However, these patterns are not healthy, and an OOO message can help you set expectations and take away the pressure from responding right away.
Above all, OOO messages eliminate the guessing and enable you to explain why your response may be delayed to those inside or outside your organisation.
What Should an Autoresponder Message Include?
An OOO message shouldn’t be too detailed; you really want to convey essential information in a few sentences. So, make sure your OOO message contains the following points:
- Begin with a greeting (“Hello!” or “Thank you for your email.”) and conclude with a sign-off (“Best, (your name),” or “Have a great weekend (or insert holiday)!”)
- Explain how long you’ll be out (“I will be away from June 25 to July 10 and will not be checking email. I’ll reply to your email as soon as I can after I return to the office on July 11.”)
- Include if you will check your email and how often (or not at all). You can say, “I will be travelling until July 3 and will be checking my email periodically/ have restricted access to my email and may be slow to answer.”
- Provide details of an alternate contact (“If you require an urgent response, please contact my line manager via email@example.com.”)
In addition, consider Infusing your OOO with humour or a personalised touch. Sharing a joke or a small piece of personal information helps to build deeper connections with your colleagues and clients. Adding a bit of humour to the communications also helps to humanise conversations and lighten up the situation.
3 Examples of Out-Of-Office Messages for Remote Workers
Now that we’ve covered the ABC of a standard out-of-office message let’s take a look at some examples to draw inspiration from:
#1 Example. Humorous and personalised.
Hey–thank you for your email! You contacted me at the perfect moment, as I am on vacation until mm/dd.
The bad news: I won’t be checking my inbox since I promised my wife/husband and children my undivided attention.
The good news: my colleague (insert name) has kindly agreed to handle my responsibilities while I’m away. So, if you have a pressing matter, you can reach him/her at (insert email).
(insert your name).
This message is excellent, as it includes all critical information without dishing out false promises on when the sender’s email will be attended. It also shares some personal information which makes it more relatable.
#2 Example. Suitable for people working in virtual offices.
Thanks for reaching out to me. I’m away from my virtual office until mm/dd, as I’m finally taking my real (not virtual) holidays.
I’m planning on checking my emails sporadically & responding outside of usual hours (the nature of remote work). However, if you require a super urgent response, reach out to my line manager (insert name), who promised to take care of some inquiries while I’m off.
Thank you, and have a great day!
(insert your name).
The above example is an ideal autoresponder for employees who work remotely.
#3 Example. Going the extra mile.
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, I’m out of the office until mm/dd without access to my emails. Fortunately, I might be able to help you get answers to your questions.
If you’re writing about (question Z), check out this link (insert a link).
If you’re email regarding (question X), you may find additional information about it here (insert a link).
Still have questions? Feel free to contact my colleague (name) at (insert email address), who will make every effort to help you.
Thanks for your patience!
(insert your name).
This OOO is perfect for those professionals who constantly get the same type of queries, which can be answered by directing senders to the FAQ or resources pages.
When employees are absent on holiday, out-of-office messages are crucial for maintaining business continuity. Additionally, they remind others of when you will be unavailable. So, don’t underestimate the importance of the OOO–craft a good one!