The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Out of Office Messages

What does your 'out of office' message say about you? We’re back soon!

This one says everything we need to know:

  • Reason for out-of-office
  • Duration that you’re away
  • If you’ll check emails at all ie once a day
  • When you are back and ready to respond

The permanent out of office

Can be good if you really cannot answer on a daily basis but really, is it good practise to avoid responding within 24 hours? If you must use, how about adding alternative contact details instead?

Out of Office on long after return

If your email system doesn’t allow you to set start and end dates for your out–of-office to be on, how about putting a reminder in your calendar to turn it off on the day you return? We know you’re back!

Lack of action point

  • What should we do if we can’t get hold of you?
  • Is there an alternative contact or any information?
  • Does your alternative contact know their name has been given?


  • We’re too busy to answer your email.

Great, so you don’t want my business then?

What’s your idea of a great out-of-office message? Do share it below or tweet us on @CraftySkills1

The importance of the ‘out of office’

I can just recall the days before smart phones, when we had to use ‘out of office’ even for the odd days away so people knew not to expect an (almost) immediate response. Nowadays, people have access to their emails 24/7, so why bother?

Here are some reasons!

Time out

We all need time out no matter how much we love what we do. The out-of-office takes the pressure of responding in a timely fashion.


Your business won’t collapse without you being at the helm. Will it? It may do you the world of good to have some time when your brain is clear to think and plan. Perhaps you can do this for occasional days throughout the year?!


If you have staff or outsource your tasks, this is a good time to see how well they operate without you. 

Minimise Emails

Letting your emails build up is a fantastic exercise in handling them more productively in the future. Learn to love email again by unsubscribing, answering tightly and avoiding unnecessary email conversations. Next holiday, you’ll receive less!


It gives you an option to let your contact know what action they should take while you are away. Perhaps you have an alternative contact to give them or link to FAQs on your website? The return date should definitely be noted here.


It tells people you can afford to take a holiday, and that’s got to be a good thing as far as your business is concerned. Clients appreciate you coming back refreshed and ready to support their needs.

Need to Know

People like knowing when you’re not around. It feels more personal plus they can adjust their plans accordingly. A lot of the time, I get lovely messages from people wishing me a good time and that the reply can wait!

Responding to email while out-of-office

It’s your judgement whether you answer your emails while on holiday, despite having out-of-office on. I tend to glance over them each day, if only to delete what I don’t need, forward what can be dealt with by others or write quick responses. Mostly, I love picking up good news as soon as possible!

I also like to come back to a neat, concise inbox of just those emails I need to work on so I can be productive on my first day back rather than spending it going through hundreds of emails. However, I try really hard to avoid responding to clients as I don’t want to set a precedence that I’m always available when I’m sometimes unreachable! I use the same rule at weekends too. Draft the emails may be, but wait to send them at an appropriate hour.

Depending on your business style, how about a fun out-of-office response that will surely put a smile on the receiver’s face? Maybe avoid gloating about being on the beach but ‘offering seasons greetings’ and looking forward to catching up upon your return is warm and friendly.

Next week: The good, the bad the ugly of out-of-office email messages.

Do you have a witty out-of-office you use? Do share it with us below!

Or tweet us on @CraftySkills1