7 Steps To Writing An Effective ‘Out Of Office’ Message (Example Included)

It is August, the month of holidays. So this means it’s time to turn those “out of office” emails on.

The last 18 months have been testing for all of us, and I must admit I do feel ready for a well-deserved break myself. The lead up to the holidays can be stressful, and it can feel counter-intuitive to be taking time off when there is still so much to do. 

Probably, the last job we all do before logging off our computers is to put an out-of-office on. 

When we send out our Forwardladies.com newsletter, we will be bombarded with automated out-of-office replies. It might seem that the world is on holiday. 

I’m always on the lookout for exciting and fun out of office replies. 

They tell me a lot about the individuals and the companies they work for. 

My favourites are the witty messages that share personal details and stories of summer adventures. 

One of my all-time favourite out of office was by former CEO of Grant Thornton, Sasha Romanovitch. Her fun out of office made it onto the news because, sadly, CEOs do not write out-of-offices like that. 

It reads:

“I’m off with my family right now, back on 23 July. I’ll be reading, diving and playing with my boys while they still want to play with me!

“My great team will be dealing with my emails while I’m off, ensuring you get support from the right people to keep things moving.”

There are two things I love about this out-of-office reply; it gives the message that it is okay to take time off and to switch off. Secondly, it gives credit to the great team that enables her to do that. Sasha did get some flak for this out-of-office and evidence of the double standards that women in leadership can face. Despite that we need more leaders showing their humanity, authenticity and their need for rest so we can normalise self-care in our workplaces. 

Nothing can be switched on 24/7, seven days a week, without burning out. 

Here are some tips of writing a brilliant out of office like Sasha: 

  1. Be personal: Step away from the standard vanilla out- of- office and get pereson. Tell us where you are going and maybe even who you are going with. What are excited about this summer. This extra insight will be an icebreaker when you are back in the business making it easier for people to connect and engage in conversations with you. 
  2. Say thank you: Use your out office to thank your team and colleagues who will be manning the business in your absence. They will appreciate it and it also communicates your gratitude and appreciaion of their work. 
  3. Offer direction and support: Add a link to a support page or some other information resource where people can get the help and support they need in your absence. 
  4. Add humour – humour is always appreciated. 
  5. Add inspiration: I’ve seem some brillaint out of offices with quotes. You an never go wrong with an inspirational quote. 
  6. Get social: I add links to my Linkedin profile for those who want to keep up with me socially and professionally. I’ve grown my Linkedin network organically with little hacks like this. 
  7. Reply to emails; Stay away from the emails when you are away if you can but when you return to the business, make sure to follow up on emails. It is good ettiquette. have heard of people deleting all their emails received whilst on holidays and requesting that people email them again if the emails are important.

    In my humble opinion that is not a great approach when dealing with equally overwhelmed colleagues. I know the emails are excessive these days so have a good structure and systems in place so you can spot and reply to the importnat emails and eventually make your way through the less important ones. 

I hope these tips help you in writing a personalised, effective and memorable out of office this summer. 

Here is an example of my last out of office:

“Thank you for your email. I’m out of the office for a well-deserved break uttering about in my back garden and eventually the Lake District if we are lucky with restrictions. I’ll be back with more energy and vim from the 28th of August 2020. 

The wonderful FL team are on hand at enquiries@forwardladies.com and +44 (0)845 64 34 940 to deal with any urgent enquiries. 

Have a wonderful day and do check out our annual flagship event FL National Summit & Awards VIRTUAL Programme https://www.forwardladies.com/awards/ which supports diversity regionally & nationally across the UK. 


PS: Let us connect on LinkedIn if we are not already connected: linkedin.com/in/griseldatogobo

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