Out-of-office message examples and templates

You’re about to take some time away from work, and you’re getting things in order. Whether you are ready to go on a much-needed vacation, are taking an extended weekend, have an upcoming medical procedure, or are attending a work event for a few days, you need to let people know you’ll be out and when you’ll return. An out-of-office message does that while also letting others know who to contact in your absence.

You’ll want to create and activate an out-of-office message that is clear and accurate. Otherwise, it could cause problems while you’re out. For example, people could get frustrated if they need immediate assistance and are left hanging, not knowing who to turn to while you’re away. Or people could send you multiple emails, not realizing you’re out, making it more difficult for you to sift through emails and get caught up when you return.

Below are tips on what to include and avoid in your out-of-office message, along with some examples you can tweak to meet your specific needs.

Items to include in your out-of-office message

The dates you will be away: Indicate the exact dates and times you will be away from the office and clarify the date you will return. If you are reactivating a previous out-of-office message, be sure to update the dates and times so you don’t confuse others.

The reason for your absence (optional): In some instances, you might opt to give a general reason for your absence. For example, if you’re away for a meeting, conference, or holiday. At the same time, there might be certain things you wish not to share, nor would it necessarily be appropriate to share, such as being out for a serious illness or to take care of a loved one’s injury. With that said, providing a reason for your absence, such as taking a vacation, could help deter people from trying to reach you while you’re out.

The point of contact in your absence: Include who will be your point of contact, including their contact information, while you’re out. If you have different points of contact for various items, be sure to clarify who should be contacted for what.

Items to avoid in your out-of-office message

Committing to an immediate response by your coworker: Once you’ve identified who will be your point of contact while you’re out, inquire about the expectations regarding their responding to messages intended for you while you’re away. Even if they say they will respond within a certain period to such emails, you don’t have any way of predicting that for certain. After all, your coworkers have full schedules like you do.

Since the chances are your point of contact will not be able to respond immediately to an email while you’re out, don’t commit them to doing so. They likely will appreciate not having to deal with people who are unhappy because you said they would respond immediately.

Off-putting humor: It should go without saying that you should avoid off-putting humor at all costs in an out-of-office message. In addition to running the risk of potentially offending people, you could put your job in jeopardy. Some would even advise against attempting to be funny at all in your out-of-office message, since your audience might not appreciate the humor.

Therefore, it’s up to you to determine if your company culture warrants any level of humor; though when in doubt, play it safe and avoid humor, as your idea of what’s funny may not be somebody else’s, or it may not translate on the page the way you intended. Bottom line: Know your audience.

Flaunting your absence: Avoid bragging or flaunting the fact that you’re away from the office. In addition, avoid noting that you’re happy to be away from the company and your work in case it’s taken the wrong way.

Items outside of company policy: Some companies have policies for out-of-office messages. If your company has one, then remain within its parameters and avoid including anything that is a “no-no” per the policy.

Saying you will respond as soon as you return: Similar to not over-committing your coworkers to an immediate response, you don’t want to overcommit yourself to responding as soon as you return to the office. You’ll need some time to get back into the swing of things if you’ve been gone for a few days, though even if you’re away for only a day or two, it can take time to sift through emails and prioritize responses as appropriate.

General out-of-office message examples

Example #1

Thank you for your email. I will be unavailable from July 5 through July 12 with limited access to email. If you need assistance in my absence, please contact Casey Smith at [email] or [phone number].

Example #2

I will be away from the office from August 10 through August 13. For urgent concerns, please contact Jeff Jones at [email] or [phone number]. Otherwise, I will respond to your message as soon as possible after my return.

Example #3

Thank you for your message. I am currently out of the office through September 25, returning on the morning of September 26. I will not have access to email while I am out.

In my absence, please contact Sally Smith for email-marketing related projects at [email] or [phone number] and Jim Collins for all other marketing related projects at [email] or [phone number]. Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible after I return.

Example #4

I will be out of the office through noon on October 5, with limited access to email until then. For urgent matters, please contact Jenny Jenkins at [email] or [phone number]. Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible upon my return.

Out-of-office message examples for holidays

Holiday example #1

Thank you for your message. I’m currently offline with no access to email through January 2. I will respond to your message as soon as possible upon my return. If you require immediate assistance, please email Jeremy Cannes at [email].

I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday season.

Holiday example #2

Happy Holidays!

I will be out of the office through December 30. If you need immediate assistance in my absence, please reach out to one of the following:

For onboarding HR-related matters: Kim Franklin at [email] or [phone number]

For recruiting matters: Tim Kerry at [email] or [phone number]

For all other HR-related matters: Janet Holland at [email] or [phone number]

Otherwise, I will respond to your message as soon as possible after I return.

Two final tips for your out-of-office message

It’s wise to include an out-of-office message for the primary forms of communication you use at your organization. All the above out-of-office messages can be tailored for voicemail, instant messaging, and collaborative apps, like Slack, to keep people in the know.

Finally, we all get busy and sometimes forget to set our out-of-office message. If that happens and you don’t have access to your computer, you can try reaching out to your supervisor or IT to help you get your out-of-office message set up. In many instances, your supervisor or IT can work with the appropriate contacts to get your message set up with the necessary information, which includes, at a minimum, the dates you’ll be out and the point of contact while you are.