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How to Craft an Effective Out-of-Office Message

If you’re getting ready for some time away from the office, setting an out-of-office message on your email and voicemail is important to manage expectations for those who may contact you while you’re gone. It’s especially critical so that donors, corporate partners or constituents who reach out don’t think you’re unresponsive or uninterested in their message, questions or needs. So how do you craft the most effective out-of-office message?

First, set a calendar reminder the day before your departure, so you don’t forget to schedule your out-of-office message.

Next, consider the answers to these questions to draft your message:

  • When will you be out of the office?
  • What day will you return?
  • Will your office be closed during any of the time you’re away?
  • How can people reach you, if at all? If you choose to provide access to your cell phone number while you’re away, how quickly can people expect a response?
  • Who can they contact in your absence? If there is a particular person they should ask for, list that person’s name, email and phone number. If there are specific people for certain issues, list them all.

Sample Out-of-Office Email Message

Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office with no access to email or voicemail until (day of the week), (month and day). I will respond to your email upon my return.

If you require immediate assistance while I’m away, please call our office at 888-888-8888 or email (name of colleague) at (email address).

The office will be closed (dates office will be closed).

Thank you.

Changing your voicemail message on your phone prior to heading out for vacation or business travel is also important. Your voicemail message can be similar to your out-of-office email message, but keep it short with just the critical information.

If you are using Outlook as your email provider, don’t forget to change both your internal and external message. The same message can work, but you can customize them depending on your office size and office requirements.

Last, but not least, consider setting a calendar reminder for the morning you return, so you don’t forget to turn off your email responder and/or change your recorded voicemail.

Enjoy your time out of the office!

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