Summer is upon us, and with end-of-summer holiday weekends and perhaps PTO you have yet to take advantage of, you may find yourself out of the office (and in need of an effective message to let others know!) While experts say (and employers tend to believe) that time-off is a necessary part of a functional work-life balance, it is nearly impossible in this digital era to be completely “off the grid” and there is likely correspondence that is sure to come through.
Time away from work can be helpful to our overall productivity and creativity upon our return to the office. In the interim though, and so you don’t have to check your email 24/7 while you are on vacation, we have provided some tips to setting up a professional out of office message that not only lets people know you are unavailable, but that also plays into your personal brand and is not a generic, boring automatic reply.
Out Of Office Messages Impact Company and Personal Branding
If your company is known for being responsive and professional, an out of office message is crucial to the ongoing flow of communication. Likewise, if you tend to be a timely communicator, it would be beneficial to ensure you can relay your message even if you’re disconnected. That is to say, you don’t want to leave anyone hanging.
A great out of office message can help boost your company’s standing by showcasing that they promote healthy work/life balance. By creating an honest out-of-office message, you can make a statement that you (and your company) value mental breaks and health. Additionally, you can get creative with your messaging and use it as an opportunity to highlight your personality. We, of course, recommend keeping things professional, but with access to so much content online, it could be an effective approach, to be honest, clever and/or insightful.
Out Of Office Messages Help You Set Professional Boundaries During your Time Off
We can be so glued to our inbox at home and in the day-to-day, but vacation should be about renewal. You cannot fully enjoy your time-off if you are worried about the emails coming in. To avoid too much stress, and to provide your clients/customers/inquirers with an alternative outlet for their questions: consider providing the contact information of a colleague or supervisor in case of an emergency. Of course, you should establish this with the person beforehand, but doing so creates the opportunity to solve before the issue gets to you.
While it is important to be available for your job, it is also important to set boundaries for your time and space and mental clarity.
Elements Of A Professional (But Unique) Out Of Office Message
Are you wondering what to include in your out of office message? Aside from the general requirements (like specific dates of when you might be back, or a standard greeting and emergency contact), here are some possibilities to consider to make your OOO distinctive:
- Something honest: While you won’t know who exactly is going to receive this message, you could consider being incredibly transparent. That is to say, we all realize that short of being on a remote island in the middle of the Sea, most of us have access to our emails just about anywhere these days. “Limited access to email,” no longer feels viable or true. Instead of saying you are unavailable, you could level with everyone and let them know that you will only be responding if you need to, but people can expect you are likely seeing their correspondence.
- Something visual: Whether it is to let your clients know when you plan to be back in the office, or to convey your elation about finally being on vacation, consider using some type of imagery or marketing component in your message. Whether you include a funny gif to relay your sentiment or a visual depiction of an e-card, you can say a lot with a picture. We recommend including some additional information, but why not leverage the multitude of visual content available online.
- Additional information: We know that some of the most successful people are those who know there is always more to learn. Think about utilizing this (small) platform as an opportunity to provide insight, even if it’s just the reprieve of something funny, like a link to a feel-good news story about a dog enjoying an ice cream cone. Or, you could share a professional article about how time-off lends itself to higher rates of productivity. You might even include in your OOO where you are vacationing and say something like, “will deal with inventory when I get back, but if you have any local restaurants in [New Orleans] you might recommend, drop a line.” This is engaging content that could be not only engaging but useful.
Things You Should Never Include In Your Out Of Office Message
While we urge you to be creative and advantageous in your OOO messaging, there is, of course, a balance to strike with our professional candor and vacation mode. Try to avoid things like disingenuous language (if you wouldn’t say it someone in real life, why would you say it in an email?), and mention of unprofessional activities. Additionally, aside from providing “too much information” in the general sense, literally try not to provide a lengthy message. While this is an opportunity for you to promote your personal brand, it is likely that someone who is trying to get ahold of you is simply trying to get their job done, too. Be mindful of this when creating your content.
Out of office messages are an essential part of the workplace, and being out of the office is a vital part of life. Our automated messages should help everything flow more smoothly while allowing employees get to enjoy their time off. Setting your out of office message should only take a few minutes, but it is worthy of your time and energy to consider not just what it says, but the actual message that is relayed.