I am not a huge fan of out of office messages, it trains people into assuming when you are in the office you are going to reply to their email almost immediately (the only thing stopping me is being away from my desk), which isn’t good for a variety of reasons that I may share in another post some day.

That said, I think when you are away for an extended period of time (a week or more) then setting up an out of office makes sense.

Here is an out of office message I set up on my work account when I recently took a holiday to Cyprus.

Hey,

I won’t be checking my email until 4th July, I will read your email sometime after that.

If your email is urgent, send it to Zendesk and a developer will be in touch ASAP.

If you are missing me, why not read some articles I have written: https://channels.theinnovationenterprise.com/authors/tosbourn

I’ve done a few things that I don’t see in other out of office emails, which I consider improvements;

  • I didn’t thank them for their email, it might be a shit email undeserving of thanks
  • I didn’t promise I would reply, it might not warrant a reply or need one
  • I certainly didn’t promise I would reply on the day I got back (I see this a lot – Replying to a weeks worth of emails in one day doesn’t seem healthy)
  • I did promise to read their email, I read all my emails
  • I offered a way to escalate their email
  • I gave them a call to action

Notes on escalating emails

I am against putting “if urgent please email [email protected] – if there was someone better to look at the email then they should have emailed them in the first place.

If the email was genuinely urgent and it just needed a response from someone then the request should be posted somewhere where many people can see it, this isn’t one person’s email inbox. In our case this would be Zendesk (helpdesk software), I was tempted to use the Slack Channel instead here.

Notes on call to actions

It isn’t often you get a chance to ask everyone who emails you to do something and it not seem weird.

I didn’t have anything that I had a pressing need to get eyeballs on so I went for a generic “look at some stuff I’ve written”, in the past I have asked people to follow me on Twitter in order to keep up with the holiday stuff I am posting.

Notes on Cyprus

If you are interested in how my Cyprus trip went, here are my notes;