Nobody should always be at work. We need to rest and relax sometimes and a vacation is just what you need when the battery is empty. I am currently preparing to go on vacation and thought this would be a nice opportunity to share with you what I learned about automatic email replies around this matter.
When we go on vacation we often want others to know that we will not read their email and will not reply to it anytime soon. That is why we set up an automatic reply in our email client. This is most commonly referred to as “Out of Office” notification.
If it makes sense for you, you can differentiate between the text that should be sent to colleagues (same email domain) and external partners or customers (different email domain). It might be that those two groups of people would need to be informed in a different way or require different information.
What should be in your out-of-office notification?
In your out-of-office notification text, you should definitely make sure to find the right words to offer passive support and not just give them a haw-haw and the finger. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
- Do not promise to reply to all emails (why commit to something you are not going to uphold?)
- Provide a clear return date, even though you used the date picker already (not all email clients might support that)
- Give a clear direction on who the sender could reach out to in case of emergencies
- Never automatically forward mail anywhere and tell the sender that
Learn how to set up the out-of-office assistant in Microsoft Outlook 2016, 2013 and 2010 here.
How to prepare your leave
If you want to further avoid issues and bad rapport, you can also prepare for your leave with some steps before you hit the beach. Maybe some of these actions can help:
- Hand over your activities to others instead of pausing it
- Build an overview of things currently going on and their state, then email your team and manager
- Make sure you leave work notes and open files in your collaboration software solution
- A couple of weeks prior to your leave, insert a quick notice to your email signature (upcoming leave: [date]-[date])
- A few days prior to your leave, notify all your stakeholders about it (and give them time to ask something)
I hope these pointers are helpful for you. In case you’re wondering about what you should write, you can make use of the following two templates if you want.
Example (less formal)
Thank you for your message.
Please note that I am currently out of office. I will be back on [Date]. As your email might contain confidential data, it will not be automatically redirected to someone else.
If you’re in need of urgent assistance, please contact [delegate / mail list] in the meantime.
Example (more formal)
Dear author of the email addressed to me,
Kindly be informed that I am not in the office at this time as I am on leave. I will return on [Date]. Your message will not be forwarded automatically due to confidentiality reasons.
In urgent cases please do reach out to [delegate / mail list] as alternative.
Thank you kindly,
Don’t even dream about bringing your work laptop or phone with you when you’re on vacation. I ask you to. Trust me. Have a great time off! 🙂
YouTube: How To: Set your Out of Office with Outlook
Photo credit: Alexander Shunto