How to Make the Most of Your OOO Message header Mitel

Out of Office? How to Write the Perfect OOO Message

3 min read

July 08, 2024

Regardless of the time of year, there are always plenty of reasons you may be out of the office (OOO). Whether it’s a work trip, personal leave, a planned vacation or holiday, or office closure, setting an informative OOO message is essential if you know you’ll be away for more than a day.

In an age when 88% of people expect an email response in an hour or less, a compelling OOO message plays a vital role in maintaining professional relationships and managing expectations. Setting an automatic reply quickly reassures correspondents they’re not being ignored and takes the pressure off you to check in while you’re away.

5 DOs and 4 DON’Ts of an Effective Out-of-Office Message

Whether you’re setting an automated reply for your email, an away status on your collaboration app, or a voicemail message on your phone, you should follow a few rules when updating your OOO.

DO: Cover the essentials. At the very least, your OOO should contain three pieces of information:

  1. The fact that you’ll be out of the office. Include a primary reason for your absence if you're comfortable sharing.
  2. The dates you’ll be away and when you expect to return.
  3. What will happen to messages while you’re gone? Will you be periodically checking your inbox? Is there a colleague handling urgent communications? 

DON’T: Make it complicated. Odds are, your correspondents are going to be skimming your OOO, so keep it as simple and brief as possible. They just want to know if their message has been received and what to do if their request is urgent. Including too many points of contact or your entire itinerary will confuse things, so stick to the basics.

DO: Keep it professional. This may be the first time someone’s contacting you, so your message needs to make the right impression. Include a polite greeting and closing, and proofread for typos!

DON’T: Include personal details. It’s enough to let everyone know you’ll be away. They don’t need to hear whether you’ll be sipping mojitos on the beach or undergoing a medical procedure.

And, as tempting as it may be to give out alternative ways to contact you, don’t include your personal email address or phone number. That’s a surefire way to be bothered while you’re gone.

DO: Establish points of contact. If you are gone for over a day or two, consider who will handle your responsibilities while you’re out. Who should someone reach out to for urgent matters? Find one or two colleagues who can respond on your behalf and include their contact information in your message, but be sure to check with them first!

You can also consider setting up a forwarder or email sharing with your coworkers so they can monitor your inbox while you’re gone. If necessary, share your projects and workflow access on your collaboration software.

DON’T: Put pressure on others. Remember, your designated points of contact are doing you a favor by taking your responsibilities on top of their jobs! Don’t give unrealistic expectations about their response time; check their availability before you go.

DO: Make it multi-channel. There are many ways for clients and colleagues to get in touch, so cover all your bases. Aside from automating email replies, update your voicemail and turn down all appointments in your calendar. If you use a collaboration app, set your status to “away” with a short message about your absence.

DON’T: Make promises you can’t keep. Take advantage of your time away from your desk! Don’t say you or your point of contact will respond by a specific date; instead, note that you’ll be working through your inbox when you return to the office and will respond to messages when you’re available.

DO: Plan. While we all look forward to using our paid time off, sometimes absences are unscheduled. If you’re experiencing an emergency, the last thing you’ll want to do is log in and write your OOOs. If your messaging system allows it, save a template where you can plug in the relevant information and set your status on the go. 

Sample Out of Office Messages for Different Platforms

Email: This is likely the primary way people will try to contact you, so keep it clear and professional. Configure your automated reply only to trigger the first message (and not a long email chain) if possible.

“Thank you for your message. I will be out of the office [insert reason if desired] from [starting date] until [return date]. I will respond to messages when I return. If you have an urgent request about [topic], please reach out to [colleague’s name], [colleague’s title] at [colleague’s phone and email]. 

[your signature]”


Collaboration App Status: You can be more informal since your collab status will only be visible to your colleagues. But there’s likely a character limit, so keep that in mind!

“I’ll be OOO from [starting date] until [return date]. I’ll work through my inbox when I return, but please chat with @[colleague] if you have a question that can’t wait. Thanks!”

Voicemail Message: Whether you have a desk phone or use your cell, updating your message to reflect your absence can be helpful. While doing that, ensure your voicemail box isn’t too full.

“Hello, you’ve reached [your name] at [phone number]. I am away from the office from [starting date] to [ending date] and will check my messages when I return. If you need a response, please contact [colleague’s name] at [colleague’s phone number]. Thank you for your call.”

Make your OOO time count whether you’re away for a day or a season. When you return, learn how Mitel can help you stay in touch with clients and colleagues with award-winning platforms and top-notch collaboration solutions.

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