Craft Effective Out-Of-Office Messages (+15 Free Templates)

December 5, 2022

out-of-office message

Day in and day out, you show up to your job and work hard, so you and your team hit your goals. Now you’re taking a much-needed break, and you need to write a quick out-of-office (OOO) message. 

Fret not; we’ve got you covered.

In this article, you’ll learn how to write an effective out-of-office message using templates and examples for inspiration. You’ll also see how to set up your automatic reply in email services.

Sending an out-of-office message is a professional and polite way to let others know you are offline and unavailable. It’s considered proper work etiquette when you are on vacation, at a business conference, or on sick leave. The auto-reply message shows that you can’t respond immediately, but you’re not ignoring the email, either.

Your out-of-office message matters

People usually expect a reply to their emails within a day or two. A no-reply typically means the sender is guessing why you aren’t getting back to them. 

This communication error is particularly troublesome if you work in a client-facing role like customer service, communication, sales, or marketing. When you return, you have an overflowing inbox from a long list of frustrated people. You risk getting overwhelmed with the number of emails you have to answer or missing important emails, leading to a loss in productivity.

Your automatic out-of-office email reply solves this problem. It sets clear boundaries for your time off in our era of perpetual electronic availability. When the sender knows you are away for a particular period, they’re less likely to bombard you with multiple emails on the same subject.

They can decide whether they want to wait for your return or contact you in another way.  They can also contact whichever co-worker is covering for you in your absence, reducing pile-ups when you return. This avoids delays or disruptions to ongoing work or partnerships with clients.

A well-crafted out-of-office message helps you connect with the recipient. It can be as simple as sharing something about your vacation or holiday. The little personal notes make the recipient feel cared for, which can deepen the business relationship.  

What to include in your out-of-office message

You don’t have to write a lengthy email explaining you are OOO. A good out-of-office message needs to include: 

  • The exact start date and end date.
  • Contact information of the person(s) to reach out to for immediate assistance; if you mention multiple point-of-contacts, specify whom to contact for each type of task.
  • At times, the reason why you are out of the office. You know yourself and your office culture, so ultimately you decide if anyone needs to know your business.

Make sure to include that you’re out of the office in your subject line with the date. 

Here’s a simple OOO message template.

Subject line: I am OOO from [date] to [date].

Hi,

I am currently out of the office till [date] for [reason] with no access to email. I will respond to you in a timely manner once I am back. In case of urgent requests, please reach out to [colleague name], [designation] at [email/phone].

Thank you,

[your signature]

How to write a good out-of-office message

Gather all your details that need to be in the out-of-office response. Follow the general rules of writing a professional email. 

  • Include a good subject line, catchy if possible.
  • Add greetings.
  • Keep your OOO message short.
  • Add pleasantries like “Thank you for reaching out” or “Talk soon” at the end.
  • Insert sign-off and signature.
  • Proofread your out-of-office message before you hit save.

Tip: Use a proofreading tool to check for spelling and grammatical errors in your emails.

What to avoid in an out-of-office message

There’s no standard format for writing an out-of-office response, but avoid these practices in your professional out-of-office message. 

Don’t give too much information

Your out-of-office message need not be an autobiographical essay. Keep it simple, short, and to the point. You only need to inform people about when you’ll be away, perhaps why, and whom to communicate with in your absence.

Don’t include your colleague's name without their consent

Putting in a co-worker’s name without their approval is unprofessional. You don’t want to get confused and angry calls from your colleague asking why they’ve got extra work with your clients when you are on vacation. So ask your co-worker beforehand and add them if they agree. 

Don’t promise you’ll respond on a date or asap

While it’s a common practice to say, “you’ll respond once you return,” don’t put too much pressure on yourself by giving an exact date or time frame. It will take time to catch up with work, emails, and calls. Don’t make a promise that you might have to break. If you still prefer to include a timeframe, set realistic expectations. 

Reel in the humor and creativity

Want to say you’re going on vacation to detox from the job you despise? Don’t. 

Your attempts to be funny or creative might backfire if a client or supervisor doesn’t share your sense of humor. This doesn’t mean you don’t get to be creative or funny. It’s standard today to have silly out-of-office messages. But assess your position, company culture, and expected professionalism before letting an Icelandic horse write your autoreply. You never know who might read it.

Related: Follow these eight best practices to master email communication.

When to set up an out-of-office message

Set up an out-of-office message when you’ll be gone, no matter how long – or not long – you’re going to be away. This includes when you go on leave for:  

  • Vacation 
  • Holidays 
  • Conferences, workshops, business meetings or trips
  • Personal emergencies
  • Sabbatical 
  • Parental leave
  • Sick leave

Up for grabs: 10 professional out-of-office message examples

If you’re struggling to find the right words to put in your out-of-office message, borrow one of these ready-made, professional, out-of-office message templates that you can use right away. You can also customize your email based on your needs.

 1. Simple out-of-office message without a reason

Send a standard OOO message without explaining the reason for your absence. 

Subject line: Out of office until [return date] 

Hello,

Thank you for your email. I am out of the office till [date] and have limited access to my email. 

In case of any urgent request, please contact my colleague [name], [designation], at [email/phone]. 

I appreciate your patience and will respond to your email when I return. 

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Best,

[Your signature] 

2. Vacation out-of-office message 

Subject line: On vacation from [date] to [date] ✈️ 

Hi,

Thank you for your message. 

I am on vacation from [date] to [date] and am taking time off from all devices. I will see your messages when I return.

If you need immediate assistance, reach out to my colleague [name],  [designation], at [email]. 

Thank you for understanding.

Have a great day! 

Cheers,

[Your signature]

Tip: Always thank your senders and end with proper pleasantries. Being courteous makes the reader more receptive to your message.

3. Holiday season out-of-office message 

Subject line: OOO until [return date] for the holiday season 

Season’s greetings! 

Thank you for reaching out. 

I am currently away from my inbox for the holiday season. If your message can wait, I’ll reply once I return on [return date].

If you need any immediate assistance, please contact [name], [designation] at [email].

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season,

[Your signature] 

4. Maternity/Paternity out-of-office message 

Subject line: Out of office for parental leave till [return date]

Greetings! 

Thanks for your email. Currently, I am out of the office for my [maternity/ paternity/parental] leave.

I expect to return in [month of return/return date]. Until then, I won’t be checking my emails. 

You can reach out to my colleagues for any assistance in the meantime. 

For any queries on [ongoing project name], contact [name], [designation] at [email/phone number].

For [specific task], contact [name], [designation] at [email/phone number].

If your message isn’t time-sensitive, feel free to resend it in  [month of return]. 

Looking forward to connecting with you upon my return.

Regards,

[Your signature]

5. Medical leave out-of-office message 

Subject line: Medical leave till [date] 

Hi, 

Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, I am out of the office on medical leave. I expect to return by [date]. 

If you need immediate help, please message [name], [designation] at [email/phone]. They are managing my responsibilities while I am away. 

Thank you for understanding,

[Your signature]

Tip: If you do not want to mention parental or medical leave in your email, make sure you tell recipients you will be out of the office for an extended period.

6. Company event out-of-office message

Subject line: Away for a company event till [date]

Hi, 

Thanks for getting in touch. I am currently away from my desk as I am busy at our company’s [event name] from [date] to [date]. 

I’ll check emails periodically and respond as time permits. 

For any urgent queries, feel free to reach out to [name], [designation] at [email/phone].

Your patience is appreciated. 

Best regards,

[Your signature]

7. Business trip out-of-office message 

Subject line: Out on a business trip to [city] until [date] 

Hello,

I am out on a business trip to [place] until [return date]. I will respond to your email when time permits or upon my return.

If you have any urgent matters, please contact [name], [designation] at [email/phone]. 

If you are also in [place], let me know. I would love to connect with you! 

Sincerely,

[Your signature]

Tip: If you’re going out of town for your trip, and if you feel safe doing so, mention where you’ll be in your OOO message. Let people know you are open to networking with your connections.

8. Conference out-of-office message 

Subject line: Out of office attending [conference name] 

Hello,

Thanks for the mail. I am currently attending the [conference name] from [date] until [date] with limited access to my emails.

For any pressing matters, reach out to my colleague [name] at [email/phone]. Otherwise, I'm happy to respond to your request when I return.

Sorry for the inconvenience. 

Sincerely,

[Your signature] 

9. Short-term out-of-office message 

Going out of the office for a short period is now pretty common among teams working from home. Use the following template to inform your colleagues you’ll be away for some time. 

Subject line: Away until [time]/Away this [morning/afternoon/evening]

Greetings! 

I’m away from my devices for an appointment/personal errand from [time] to [ time]. If your message can’t wait, please reach out to now [name], [designation] at [email/phone]. Otherwise, I will respond to you once I’m back online. 

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Regards,

[Your signature]

10. Internal out-of-office message

Email software providers now offer options to send a separate auto-reply to internal teams and external collaborators. Tell your colleagues about your absence with this template. 

Subject line: OOO till [date]. Send your urgent request to [team] 

Hi, there!

Thank you for your email, but I am currently OOO until [date]. You can find updates on all [project name] in the [folder name] folder shared with the team. 

Contact my team member [name], [designation] at [email/phone] if you have any concerns or questions. 

Thanks,

[Your signature]

5 unique out-of-office message templates

Your automatic out-of-office reply messages don’t have to be solely about your absence. You can turn this into a way of engaging with people. Make it informative, memorable, and even fun. The sender won’t be as disappointed to get your auto-reply. And you can create some connections or get some unexpected benefits by adding just a line to your email. Consider using these five ways to do it.

1. Offer a resource and promote your content

Include a resource. It can be a simple blog article or inspiring newsletter recommendation, or a webinar you recently enjoyed. You can also promote your company’s content to get some new readers. Try this template message.

Subject line: Not here, but I’ve got some resources for you!

Hi,

Thanks for reaching out! I am away from the office till [date].

If you need immediate help, reach out to my colleague [name], [ designation], at [ email].

If your message can wait, I will respond once I return.

Meanwhile, I recommend you check out this excellent article [“article headline] by [name], explaining [subject]. I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks again,

[Your signature]

2. Promote your product

For anyone in sales or marketing, nothing is better than promoting their brand or product. If this is you, use your out-of-office reply to do just that. 

Subject line: I’m OOO, but your free guide for [product name] awaits!

Hello,

Thanks for your message. I am offline from [date] to [date].

Are you reaching out to me to learn more about our [expertise/product/service name]? 

Fortunately, we have ready-made resources to get you started. Read our guide on [product/service] and also see what our customers say about it here [add link]. 

Feel free to reach out to my co-worker [name], [designation] at [email] if you have any urgent queries. 

I’ll get in touch with you when I’m back. 

Cheers,

[Your signature] 

3. Generate leads

Plug in your newsletter, linkable assets like a downloadable whitepaper, or lead magnets like quizzes in your out-of-office autoreply. It’s one of the simplest ways to work on lead generation while you are away. 

Subject line:  I am out, but I’ve got something for you. 

Hi,

Thanks for reaching out! I am currently away from work till [date] with no access to my inbox. 

If you need something right now, reach out to [name] at [email]. 

In the meantime, have you read our weekly newsletter [newsletter name + link]? We share exciting stories, updates, and tips and tricks on [subject matter]. I think you’ll enjoy it. Sign up here [link]!

I’ll be sure to respond to you once I return. 

Thank you,

Cheers,

[Your signature]

This template is for lead generation via newsletter. You can use it to insert any of your lead generation forms.

4. Network

Attending an event or going on a business trip? Don’t just tell them you’re going to a conference. Use this chance to network with business partners and acquaintances. You can even allow them to book a time in your calendar for a meeting later. 

Subject line: I’m at [event name] in [place] Are you?/Maybe we can meet at [conference]

Hello,

I am currently away from my desk attending [event name] at [place] from [date] to [return date]. 

I will respond to your email when time permits. 

If you would like to attend the event, let me know. I would love a chance to connect with you over there. You can learn more about our presence at booth number [x] at the conference.

Or if you’re in [place] during this time, let me know if you wanna grab a coffee together. Contact my colleague [name], [designation] at [email] if your message requires immediate attention.

Talk soon! 

[Your signature]

Related: Learn how to harness your personal network with network marketing.

5. Boost your brand's social media

Add a simple line and market your company’s social media account while you’re gone. This works particularly well to hook people if you have a great social media presence. 

Subject line: I am OOO, but did you see our latest post? 

Hi,

Thanks for the message. I am away from the office till [date] for [reason].

Please get in touch with [name], [designation] at [email] if you have any immediate questions. 

Meanwhile, did you see our latest post on [social media site] ? We shared some pretty interesting info on [subject]. You don’t want to miss it. 

Follow us on [social media links] for more fun stories. 

Talk to you soon,

[Your signature]

7 funny and creative out-of-office examples to inspire you

You can also get creative and funny with your out-of-office replies without going overboard. If your mail can bring a smile to a sender’s face and brighten a stressful day, you create an instant, emotional connection with that individual. After all, humor makes people more relatable and authentic. 

Some of the folks at G2 found some funny and creative out-of-office message examples to inspire you. 

1. Selecting tuxedos for my dog’s wedding

funny out-of-office message

Source: Shreya Mattoo

 It’s not often that you take a day off to select tuxedos for your dog’s wedding. And when you do it, why not tell the rest of the world and get their help, too? The email works because the sender shares their personal and unique situation, humanizes the impersonal mail, and makes it funny.

2. I am at the BEACH

amusing out-of-office message example

Source: Holly Hunt

Flaunt what you got. If you can be entertaining and amusing without offending, hit the autoresponder to boast a little about your whereabouts and share what you enjoy with a cheeky message like this. The sender is truthful about the fact that they are on vacation but warns the recipient about delayed or inebriated responses. 

3. Busy eating pasta and pizza

simple and straight out-of-office message example

Source: Twitter

That’s it. Simple, straight, and frank admission that the person on the other end of the email is less likely than usual to respond.  

4. Contact Casie for any emeowgencies

Hi, 

I'm on vacation. Like, a real vacation. Like, I threatened people that I wasn't taking my laptop vacation. So I'm pretty unlikely to respond before August 1st. 

Now, if you really, really need something, you can try and find someone from the list below to deal with your requests, problems, and crises. Note that [supervisor] is also off during this time, so honestly, the department is currently completely lacking in leadership. Like when I'm there. If you need immediate help, you can contact [name] and Cassie, my cat, for any emeowgencies. 

Now I realize there's a chance that you're still reading this, and I'm starting to wonder if you don't have something better to do. 

I mean, I know it's the last week of July, but if all you're doing is spending your day reading out-of-office replies (and surely not all of them will be as entertaining as this), I feel you need help. But again, try the emails above, I'm not available. 

Still, if you are still reading at this point, I feel I need to reward you. So, a little poetry.

It's just not fair 

Said the overworked Chair 

As he prepared his out-of-office reply 

I give them direction 

With a hint of affection 

But this week, I'm just not their guy 

See ya soon. 

Thanks

 Source: Twitter

This is a long out-of-office message, but it’s amusing. It teases the person who continues reading the out-of-office reply but softens the blow with a poem at the end. 

5. Get your pet to respond

funny out-of-office message from pet example

Source: Twitter

Now, what’s better than directing your senders to contact Natalie, the cat? A response from the cat. That’s what Raj did with his autoresponder. Raj – I mean – Natalie’s response injects personality into the automatic reply and will earn some laughs. The person who receives it won’t blame the cat for not responding, now would they?  

Here’s a pawfect template you can use if you have a dog:

Subject line: {Name] is away, [Pet’s name] reporting on duty

Hi,

Thank you for your message! 

[Your Name] is currently out of office for [reason] till [ return date].

Fortunately, I, [your name]’s dog, [pet name], am here to reply to you.

But unfortunately, the only word I know is BOW BOW,

So I can entertain you with BOW BOW BOW BOW and some cute dog videos. [Attached]

If you need any other assistance, please contact [your name]’s colleague [colleague name] at [email]. 

Bow Bow,

Bow,

[Pet’s Name]

And don’t forget: you can always outhorse your emails to Icelandic equines to write on your behalf by simply filling out a form. 

6. Chasing storms

Thank you for your email. 

I am currently in Oklahoma chasing storms and will respond to your email when I return to Massachusetts in June. If your email has a time constraint, I will do my best to answer within 72 hours. Otherwise, if you want my attention before then, you must fall into one of four categories: 

  1. You are a representative from The Weather Channel writing to let me know Jim Cantore has been struck by lightning in a snowstorm, and I am his chosen successor. 
  2. You would like to adopt my sister. NOTE: we have a strict no-return policy. 
  3. You are a Nigerian princess writing to let me know you will be depositing $4 million into my bank account and need my bank account number, SSN, and routing number.
  4. You are President Drew Faust writing to let me know that Harvard wants to make my Atmospheric Sciences program an actual concentration at Harvard and that I get a building named after me (or at least a parking spot named after me.)


Source: Twitter

This clever out-of-office message conveys the sender is unlikely to respond to emails that aren’t time-sensitive with a dose of humor and personality. They dissuade people from reaching out by adding humorous situations under which people can send an email, like the Nigerian princess ready to give him money. 

Here’s a template for you to create yours in the same manner.

Subject line:  I am away, but if you need help…

Thanks for your message. 

I am away from work till [return data] for [reason]. 

For any assistance, please reach out to [name], [designation] at [ email].

If you still think you need to reach out to me for an urgent matter, make sure you fall into one of the four categories: 

  1. You’ve got tickets to the [band name] concert and want to give one of them to me
  2. You are a Nigerian princess who wants to deposit $5 million into my account and needs my account number, SSN, and mobile number.
  3. You sighted a UFO, took pictures and videos of aliens deboarding it, and want me to confirm. 
  4. You want to adopt my [sibling]; if this is the reason, call me. We have one-day delivery and a strict no-return policy. 
Thank you,

[your signature] 

7. It’s emojis all the way down

emoji out-of-office message exampleSource: Twitter

If you’re a visual person and your company culture and clientele allow it, you could use cute emojis to convey your out-of-office message, like the one above. The emoji correspondence is simple and effective, makes others decipher what you’re up to, and adds some fun to your autoresponder. 

Remember, not all jokes work, and not all jokes work the same way with everyone. So be mindful of who in your professional circle will be fine with humorous auto-replies and who may not be. You don’t want to have to meet with HR right after your vacation. 

How to set up your out-of-office auto-reply

By now, you’re ready with your out-of-office message. Here’s how you can set up your out-of-office autoresponder in different email software.

How to set out-of-office replies on Gmail

If you use Google workspace, follow these steps to set up your auto-reply on Gmail. 

In the top right corner of Gmail, click on Settings > See all settings

Scroll down to Vacation responder. 

screenshot showing how to set OOO in Gmail

  • Click “Vacation responder on”
  • Fill in the dates, subject line, and your simple out-of-office message in the given boxes
  • If you want to send an auto-reply to your contacts and people in your organization, click on the respective boxes
  • Click “Save changes”

Your out-of-office autoresponder is set. 

Once your vacation responder is on, you’ll get a top bar with an option to end the vacation email like this.

Gmail Top bar showing vacation settings option.

 Click on “End now”  to turn off the vacation responder.

How to set out-of-office replies on Outlook

If you use Microsoft Outlook for your emails, here are the steps to set up your out-of-office autoreply. 

Source: Microsoft

  • Select File > Automatic Replies 
  • Select “Send automatic replies
  • Click on “Only send during this time range” to edit the date and time range
  • Type in your autoreply message and click OK. This will turn the auto-reply on for people emailing you from inside the organization
  • For those outside the organization, click on the ”Outside My Organization” tab and type in the same message or a different autoreply
  • Click OK

You are set for your time off.  

How to set out-of-office messages on Slack

It’s common these days to use instant messaging apps like Slack and Teams more than emails. So consider putting up your out-of-office message on those channels, too. Follow these steps to update your status to out-of-office in your slack:

  • Click on your profile picture in the top right of your Slack window. 
  • Click on “Update your status
  • In the pop-that appears, type in your custom out-of-office status, and then set the time.
  • Bonus: you can even add emojis to your status.  

    Set out-of-office status on Slack

How to set an out-of-office message on Teams

The process to schedule an auto-reply in Microsoft Teams is similar to Slack.  

  • Click on “Set status message” in the profile picture at the top of the Teams window.

    Schedule an out of office status in Teams
  • On the pop-up, click on the “Schedule out of office” option at the bottom.

    Schedule an out of office status in Teams

Source: Microsoft

  • In the Out of Office window, type in your professional out-of-office message and turn on the toggle button next to “Turn on automatic replies”.

    Screenshot showing how to set OOO on Teams

    Source: Microsoft

  • Click on “Send replies only during a time period” to select a date range.
  • You can also enable sending automatic replies to people outside your company by clicking on ”Send replies outside my organization”. You can edit the message you want to send to external contacts. 
  • Once you’re done, click save

Don’t forget to switch off your autoresponders when you are back if you didn’t set up a time range.

Happy holidays!

Now you’re ready to set up your creative out-of-office email. Use one of our templates, fill in the requisite details, turn on your autoresponder, and put up the message. Remember to check each element of your out-of-office email before you hit save. And one last thing: enjoy your time off – you deserve it!

Still confused? Explore and learn how to write professional emails that people read.

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