How to write an Out Of Office Reply

Email has become such a communication lifeline that it's hard to imagine not answering it promptly. When we are away from the office for even a day or two, we want people to receive a response from us. We shudder to imagine not sending a response for an entire one- or two-week vacation.
Since it has become an essential message, here are suggestions on how to write an email automatic reply.
Depending on the type of email account you have, you may have options for controlling who receives your message and how it appears. These tips focus on only the content and etiquette of your message:

  1. Include the date of your return.
  2. Let people know of any other individuals they can contact for help in your absence. (Be sure those individuals will be available.)
  3. If people typically contact you for a certain type of information or approval, let readers know how they can find the information or get the approval in your absence.
  4. Remember that anyone who sends you an email will receive your autoreply (unless your software allows you to limit who receives it). Be sure your reply is suitable for senior executives, donors, coworkers, clients, friends, strangers, and others.
  5. Since anyone may receive your reply, avoid personal information about where you will be during your absence. Avoid sharing contact information that you do not want everyone to have.
  6. Proofread your message very carefully--even though you may be rushing out the door to catch a plane. Any errors will be read by every reader, including that prestigious client, prospective employer, or huge donor.
  7. During a holiday season, you may want to include a "Happy holidays!" sentiment if it will apply to everyone who receives your reply.

Example:
Thank you for your email. I am away from the office and will return on Monday, February 27. If your message requires a reply, I will respond when I return.

For immediate needs, please contact these people:
--To reserve the conference center, please email Michael at (email address).

--With questions about a reimbursement check, email Rhonda at (email address).

--With other urgent administrative issues, please email Rishi at (email address).

Micha Stern
Human Resources

When you return to your office, be sure to turn off your auto-reply if your software doesn't allow you to set an end date. (Mark your calendar before you leave the office, since you will probably be very busy when you return.)

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