If you're going to be away from work for more than a day or so, it's a good idea to set up an out-of-office message for your email and/or voicemail. That way, colleagues and customers won't think you're ignoring their inquiries. Discover 15 sample out-of-office messages for various situations, as well as guidelines for which details to include and which to leave out.
Professional Out-of-Office Email Messages
When people email their business contacts, they tend to expect to receive a reply right away. Setting up an email auto-reply when you're going to be out for a while eliminates frustration when people don't get an immediate reply.
Sample Vacation Out-of-Office Emails
If you're going to be out of the office on vacation for a few days or weeks, it's a good idea to mention that in your email. It's also ideal to provide an alternate point of contact in case the people who reach out to you need assistance with a matter that cannot wait until you return.
- Thank you for your email. I am currently taking vacation time and plan to return to work on [insert return date]. If you need assistance with an urgent matter, please reach out to [insert name] at [insert email address]. I look forward to connecting with you after I am back in the office.
- Thank you for your message. I am taking time off from work through [insert last day of leave], so I am unable to respond to your message until after that time. If you need assistance before then, please contact [insert name] at [insert email address].
- I appreciate your message. I am currently enjoying some much-needed vacation time. I plan to return to duty on [insert date] and will catch up on correspondence after that time. For immediate assistance, please reach out to [insert name] at [insert phone number or email address].
Example Business Travel Auto-Reply Messages
If you're traveling for business, it may be difficult for you to keep up with emails as they come in. In that case, set up a message that lets people know what you're doing and whether they can expect to hear back from you or not during your trip.
- Thank you for reaching out to me. I am currently traveling for business with limited access to email. I will check messages as circumstances allow and reply to urgent matters as soon as possible. I'll be back on a regular schedule by [insert date] and will reply to other messages after that time. For immediate assistance, please call [insert name] at [insert phone number].
- Thanks for reaching out. I am away from the office at a corporate meeting through [insert date]. During this time, I will have limited opportunities to reply to messages. If you need assistance right away, please reach out to [insert name] at [insert email address or phone number]. Otherwise, I will follow up as soon as it is feasible to do so.
- It's great to receive an email from you. Due to an out-of-town business meeting, I will have limited access to email through [insert date]. For faster assistance, please reach out to [insert name] at [insert email] and copy me on your communication with them. I will follow up as needed when it is possible for me to do so. Thank you for your flexibility.
Out-Of-Office Emails for Other Reasons
Vacation and business travel aren't the only reasons one might be away from the office. Plus, you don't necessarily have to specify why you're out of the office in an auto-reply message. For example, some of these maternity leave auto-reply messages say why the person is away from the office, but some do not. What matters is that people who reach out know not to expect to hear back from you right away.
- Thank you for your communication. I am away from work with an expected return date of [insert date]. Please direct your inquiry to [insert name] at [insert phone number] or [insert email address] so that your request can be handled promptly.
- Your email has been received and is appreciated. I am currently out of the office, so your request has automatically been forwarded to [insert name]. If you do not receive a reply within two business days, please reach out to them at [insert phone number].
- The purpose of this message is to confirm receipt of your email and to let you know that the person to whom it was sent is currently out of the office for an extended period. Your email has been auto-forwarded to our administrative team so it can be directed to the correct person to follow up with your request. If you do not receive a reply, please call us at [insert phone number].
Simple Out-of-Office Voicemail Messages
Not all business communication takes place by email. It's just as important for those who leave voicemail messages to know that you won't be able to get back to them right away as it is for those who send email messages. If your job involves inbound telephone communication, be sure to turn on an extended out-of-office voicemail if you're going to be away for a few days or longer.
Standard Out-of-Office Voicemail
Everyone who receives incoming business phone calls should set up a general voicemail message to capture calls when they simply cannot answer or are going to be out for a day or two.
- You have reached the voicemail for [insert name]. I am unavailable to take your call at this time. Please leave a detailed message and I will return your call as soon as possible.
- Thank you for calling. This is [insert name]. Your call is very important, but I am not able to answer right now. Please leave your name, phone number, and a brief message. I'll follow up as soon as possible.
- This is [insert name]. Thank you for your call. I am currently unable to take your call. Please leave a message with your name, contact information, and the nature of your call so I can follow up.
Extended Out-of-Office Voicemail
When you're going to be out of the office for more than just a few days, you'll want to activate a different voicemail message that lets callers know not to expect a quick return call. As with email auto-reply messages, you don't necessarily have to share why you are away, but it is fine to do so if you wish.
- Thanks for calling! You've reached my voicemail while I'm out of the office for a few days. I'll start returning calls after [insert date], so leave a message if that will work for you. Or, for faster assistance, please reach out to our help desk at [insert email address] or call [insert help desk phone number].
- Thank you for calling. I will be out of the office and away from my voicemail through [insert date]. If you need assistance prior to that time, please call [insert name] at [insert phone number]. Otherwise, please leave a detailed message and I will follow up after I return to the office.
- Thank you for your message. I am away from the office on an extended leave. For prompt assistance, please reach out to [insert name], who is handling my duties while I am away. You may reach them at [insert phone number] or [insert email address]. Thank you for your cooperation.
What to Include in Out-of-Office Messages
The out-of-office messages listed above are just a few examples to consider. There are many ways to word this type of message. The key is to maintain a polite, professional tone and to provide those who email or call you with information that will allow them to get the assistance they need.
- Provide a general idea of when you expect to return so they can make an informed decision regarding whether to wait for you to get back to them or to seek assistance from someone else.
- If you're going to be gone for more than a day or so, provide an alternate point of contact or a general phone number that the person can use to get help if they have an urgent need.
- If you are going to be away for several weeks, such as for maternity leave or recovery from surgery or another type of extended medical leave, consider auto-forwarding your emails to someone else for handling.
- If you do auto-forward your messages, it's still a good idea to set up an auto-reply so the sender won't be surprised to hear back from a different person.
- For email messages, make it clear if their request has been auto-forwarded to someone else for handling or if it's up to them to decide if they want to reach out to an alternate point of contact.
- For voicemail messages, be sure to state your name so callers are sure they are in the correct place to leave a message for you.
- If you are going to be away for an extended period, specify the name and phone number of an alternate point of contact directly in your voicemail message.
- Set a realistic expectation for when people who call or email can expect to hear back from you. Chances are, you'll come back to a lot of messages that need to be returned, so don't promise a reply the day you get back.
Privacy and Security Considerations
When you set up an auto-reply or voicemail message that indicates you'll be away from the office, do so with consideration for your own privacy and security. Remember that everyone who reaches out to you at work, even phishers and identity thieves, will be getting the messages you set up. So, don't announce that you and your entire family are on a cross-Atlantic cruise unless you want it to be widely known that your house will be empty for an extended period. It's better to say something to the effect of "taking vacation time" or being "away from the office" rather than saying you are "away on vacation" or sharing any specifics about your plans. The same is true with medical leaves of absence; it's probably not the best idea to go into detail about your health concerns in an auto-reply or voicemail message.
Boost Business Communication Effectiveness
Regardless of the reason why you won't be checking your work email account or voicemail messages for a period of time, it's a good idea to use a short, clear, out-of-office message so people who reach out to you won't feel like they're being ignored. Your message will also provide them with alternatives for getting assistance. This demonstrates a high level of professionalism, as well as effective business communication skills.