Out-of-Office Messages: Why and How?

By Conor O’Brien

This article is also published on ChangeTheCompany.com

Out-of-office messages are email replies that are automatically sent to colleagues and customers when you are away from your workplace. At a basic level, the message will inform individuals on where you are, when you will return, and, if applicable, a colleague’s contact information for urgent matters. A well-crafted out-of-office message will keep your contacts in the loop in a way that is timely and professional. 

Contents of an Out-of-Office Message

The content of a professional out-of-office message follows the format of a greeting, a thank-you response, the time you will return, and, lastly, your name. Your out-of-office message should take the form of something like this: 

Dear (Name), 

Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office until (Date). If the matter is urgent, please contact my colleague (Colleague’s Name) at (Colleague’s Email). Thank you for your understanding. 


(Your Name)

In instances where the connection between you and the receiving party is less formal, you can customize the message to be a little more relaxed: 

Hello (Name), 

Thank you for your email. I am on vacation with my family until (Date). Feel free to contact me when I get back.


(Your Name)  

In both cases, it is important to remember that it is best to lean toward a more professional format than one that is too relaxed. You should avoid phrases that suggest a careless attitude, such as, “I am out of the office and won’t be reading any emails until I return.”

Setting Up Your Automated Out-of-Office Messages

When the time comes that you are away from your office or computer, you will need to set up your email to begin sending out your automatic responses. While most email platforms follow the same general setup pattern, there are some variabilities.  


In Gmail, the Vacation Responder tool is found in the platform’s settings. To access this tool, click on the gear icon in the top right of your email’s homepage, click “See all settings”, and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the “Vacation Responder” tool. For the tool’s subject, type “Out of Office,” and then fill in the content box with your desired message.  


To create an out of office message in outlook, first click the “File” option in the top left of your email’s homepage. You will then see the option for “Automatic Replies (Out of Office)” where you can enter your personalized message and set its time frame.  

Though you or your company may use a number of different email platforms, the option to create an out-of-office message can usually be found in the platform’s settings page.  

A professional out-of-office message is as beneficial as it is necessary. Without one, your correspondents will be left wondering about the status of their email.  


How to create the perfect out of office message.” IONOS, 8 May 2019.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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