How to set up an Out of Office message so you can actually enjoy vacation

How to set up an Out of Office message so you can actually enjoy vacation

By properly setting up your Out of Office Message so people understand you are actually out of the office! 

 

We’ve all been there.  

We put in the PTO request months ago… and it was approved!  

We let the Project Manager know that we’ll be out of the office during critical project milestones. (And, let’s be honest, we may have planned vacation to avoid those exact milestones.) 

And we’re going.  

The family is packed. 

The friends are joining in on the fun. 

And all there is left to do is leave! 

Profile picture of Lia Mack, Senior Manager with Elevate Digital's Consulting

Lia Mack
Elevate Digital
Senior Manager, Consulting

However, going on vacation when you’re a working adult is, well, work. There are discussions to be had and tasks to do before we are free to go. Who’s covering for who? Who else is out of the office at that time? Will the team be left hanging? Or did you do enough prep-work so that the team (hopefully) doesn‘t feel your absence? 

Until, of course, the you-know-what hits the you-know-what 

Urgent issues. Side conversations that turn into new developments. Tasks that pop up the moment you go off the grid.  

And let’s not forget the work environment we all know well by now. New employees who’ve just joined the company, as there’s someone new joining at least every week. Even every day. How are they to know you’re not just ghosting their emails?  

You set up your OOO (out of office) message!  

Yes, I know. Captain Obvious moment for sure. 

However, what if you:  

  • have never set up an OOO message before, or,
  • don’t set up OOO messages ever, or even,
  • do a not-so-great job with your OOO messages?

Thankfully, you have read this far and now I will demonstrate all there is to know about setting up an effective, useful and, dare I say, even pleasant-to-receive OOO message.  

Full disclosure? I work with MS Teams here at Elevate Digital, so that’s the platform I’ll be demonstrating below.  

However, don’t be dismayed.  

My OOO message templates below will help guide you in setting up your very own OOO messages no matter which platform you are using. For step-by-step directions on how to set it up in different platforms, a google search or call to HR will help you. 

So, without further blog post shenanigans, jump below for step-by-step instructions and OOO message templates! 

Tip #1: Do Not Be Vague

We’ve all seen vague OOO messages.  

>> I’m not currently in the office. Contact Harry or Sally if you need help. << 

First, congratulations. You’re out of the office. Good for you.  

However, I’m an outside vendor. Or a new client. Or a new employee. 

Who is Harry? Or Sally? 

How do I get a hold of them?  

Plus, how long are you not in the office? Next five minutes? Next five days? Weeks?  

Which leads us to:

Trick #1: Be Specific 

I know. You’re about to fly off to La La Land, but please. Be kind. Let people know the following: 

WHAT: You’re out of the office
WHEN: You’ll be out of the office for (enter timeframe here)
WHO: People can contact the following people if the sender needs assistance ASAP
HOW: And this is their email addresses AND phone numbers 

Which leads me to some basic – and not so basic – templates for your own OOO message creation.

Basic OOO Message

Hello! I am currently out of the office and will return mm/dd/yyyy.

If not urgent, I will respond to your email upon my return.

However, if you need assistance ASAP, please contact Harry Henderson (HH@email.address | 555-555-5555) or Sally Sea-Shells (SSS@email.address | 555-555-5555).

Thank you!

 

Better than Basic OOO Message

Hello!

I am currently out of the office and will return mm/dd/yyyy.

If not urgent, I will respond to your email upon my return. Sorry for the inconvenience.

However, if you need assistance ASAP, please contact:

 – Harry Henderson (HH@email.address | 555-555-5555) 
 – Sally Sea-Shells (SSS@email.address | 555-555-5555)

Thank you and have a great day!

 

Effective & Fun OOO Message

Hello!

Thank you for your email, however I am currently out of the office on PTO – vacation! – and do not have access to my inbox.

I will be OOO from mm/dd to mm/dd.

😊 Not in a rush?
I will respond to your email upon my return.

🙁 URGENT!!!!
If you need assistance ASAP, please contact:

– Harry Henderson (HH@email.address | 555-555-5555)
– Sally Sea-Shells (SSS@email.address | 555-555-5555)

Thank you and have a great day!

Step 1: Click the CogStep 2: Click the Link to View All Outlook SettingsStep 3: Turn On Automatic Replies and fill in ALL the blanks below

Don’t forget to click SAVE!

And that’s it.

Now, go enjoy your PTO! 😊

Oh, one more thing! If you’re setting up your OOO reminder/alert in your team’s calendar, PLEASE be sure to not block everyone else’s calendar with your PTO.

Just add your PTO reminder/alert as an ALL-DAY event, with the title specifying “ALL DAY”, “AM ONLY” or “PM ONLY” in the title. (No one needs to have your PTO all over their calendar. Just saying. 😉)

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