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How to write and schedule a professional out of office message (+10 templates)

How to write and schedule a professional out of office message (+10 templates)

7
min read

When you’re getting ready to finally take some time off and relax, setting up an out of office email message probably isn’t your top priority. But using an out of office message conveys professionalism and keeps everyone in the loop about why you’re not responding to emails. 

Before you head out the door for your time off, draft and schedule a quick out of office message using the guide below. 

What is an out of office message, and when should you use one?

An out of office (OoO) is an automatic email response telling your contacts that you’re unavailable but will be back at a specific date or time. They’re also known as auto-responses or vacation responders. 

Anyone who emails you during your time off will immediately receive your out of office message in response. 

Generally, you should use an out of office message whenever you’re taking time off and won’t be able to offer timely responses to emails. If you’re only going to be away from your desk for a day, like for a meeting in another building, an out of office message may not be necessary. For example, setting up an OoO message to take a long lunch is probably overkill. But for absences longer than a day, using an out of office is the way to go. 

Some situations in which you might want to use an out of office message include:

  • Going on vacation
  • Attending a professional conference or workshop
  • Taking sick leave or parental leave
  • Going on sabbatical
  • Taking personal time off

What should you include in your out of office message?

Your out of office message doesn’t need to be anything fancy. The important information to include is:

  • Stating that you’re not currently available
  • The dates you’ll be away, including your return date
  • The contact information of someone people can reach out instead to while you’re unavailable

Many people include the reason for their absence, but it’s up to you whether or not you include that information. If you want people to be able to reach you in case of an emergency, add some instructions on how to do that. Depending on your company culture, you can decide whether you want your OoO message to be fairly cut and dry, or include a more personal voice and done. You may even decide to include some light humor in your OoO message, if appropriate. 

What not to include in your out of office message

You have plenty of flexibility when crafting your out of office message, but there are some things you should avoid. Try not to include the following:

  • Excessive detail: Your contacts probably don’t want to hear every detail of your time off while stuck at work. You’re not writing an autobiography and it’s not really meant to be entertainment; you’re just informing people you’re unavailable. Stick to the most essential information. 
  • The promise of responses by a specific date: Don’t tell your contacts that you’ll get back to them by a particular date when you get back. You never know how many emails you’ll get while you’re gone and how long it will take to catch up on your work. Better to say, “I’ll respond to emails when I return,” than to make a promise you can’t keep. 
  • A colleague’s contact information without their approval: If you’re redirecting your email contacts to one of your colleagues in your OoO message, make sure you get that colleague’s permission first. Handing a colleague extra work without their consent can put them in a difficult situation or create a bad experience all around. 

How to set up an out of office message in Gmail

Set up your out of office message directly in Gmail by following these steps:

  1. Open Gmail on your desktop. 
  2. Open Settings by clicking the gear icon in the top right corner of your screen. Click “See all settings.”
  1. Scroll all the way down in the General tab to the Vacation responder section. Click the circle next to “Vacation responder on.”
  1. Enter the first day of your vacation into the box labeled “First day.” If you know when your time off will end, tick the box next to “Last day” and type in that date also. 
  1. Now you can write your actual message. Choose a subject line for your OoO message (take inspiration from the templates below) and type it into the Subject box. 
  1. Write the body of your out of office message in the box labeled “Message.” 
  1. If you only want your Contacts to receive your OoO message, tick the box that says, “Only send a response to people in my Contacts.”
  2. Once you’re happy with the message and other settings, click “Save Changes.”

Your new out of office message will automatically be sent as a response to people who email you during your specified dates. You can edit or turn off your OoO message at any time in your Gmail settings. 

Out of office message templates

If you’re still not sure exactly what your out of office template should look like, start with one of these templates. 

1. General out of office message

Subject: Out of Office: [Your Name]

Hello,

I'm currently out of the office until [end date] and will have limited access to email. If you need immediate assistance, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email address].

I'll look forward to catching up with your email upon my return. Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

2. Casual vacation out of office template

Subject: Out of Office: Taking a Break

Hey there,

Thanks for reaching out! I wanted to give you a heads up that I'm currently on vacation and taking a break from work. It's time for me to recharge, relax, and spend quality time away from the daily hustle.

During this period, I won't be checking my email regularly, so my response might be delayed. But don't worry, I'll make sure to catch up with you as soon as I'm back in action on [return date].

If there's something urgent that can't wait, please feel free to contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email address]. They'll be happy to assist you while I'm away.

I appreciate your understanding and patience. Thanks for your support!

Best regards,

[Your Name]

3. Light-hearted vacation out of office template 

Subject: Off on an adventure - Out of Office!

Hey there,

Just a heads up, I've temporarily traded my desk for a beach and my laptop for a piña colada. Yep, you guessed it—I'm on vacation!

From [start date] to [end date], I'll be living the dream, but unfortunately not checking my email. If it's urgent, please seek help from our awesome team at [colleague's email address]. They'll come to the rescue faster than a seagull swooping in for a sandwich.

As for me, I'll catch up with you as soon as I'm back, hopefully with a tan and a suitcase full of unforgettable memories.

Cheers,

[Your Name]

4. Holiday out of office template

Subject: Out of Office: [Holiday]

Hello,

Thanks for your note. I’m currently out of the office for [holiday] and will return after the holiday. I’ll look forward to catching up with you when I return on [date].

Thank you for your understanding and enjoy the holiday!

Best,

[Your Name]

5. Conference or work event out of office template

Subject: Automatic Reply: [Conference/Work Function Name]

Hello,

Thank you for your email. I'm currently attending [Conference/Work Function Name] and will be unable to respond immediately. I'll be back in the office on [return date] and will get back to you shortly after.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

6. Parental leave out of office template

Subject: New Baby Arrival - Out of Office Reply

Hello,

I have some exciting news to share! Our family has just welcomed a new addition. As a result, I am currently on parental leave, fully focused on our little one.

During this time, I won't be available to respond to emails promptly. I appreciate your understanding and patience.

I’ll be returning to work on [date]. For assistance in the meantime, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email address]. They will be happy to help.

Thank you for your support!

Best regards,

[Your Name]

7. Sick leave out of office template

Subject: Out of Office: Sick Leave

Hello,

I wanted to inform you that I am currently on sick leave and will be unable to respond to emails promptly. I apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

8. Sabbatical out of office template

Subject: Sabbatical: Out of Office Reply

Hello,

Thank you for your email. I am currently on a sabbatical, taking some time for personal growth and rejuvenation. During this period, I will have limited access to email and may not be able to respond promptly.

I’ll be returning from sabbatical on [date]. If your matter requires immediate attention, please reach out to [colleague's name] at [colleague's email address]. They will be able to assist you in my absence.

For any non-urgent matters, I will respond to your email upon my return from sabbatical. I appreciate your understanding and support.

Thank you and have a wonderful day.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

9. Family leave off out of office template

Subject: Family Leave: Out of Office Reply

Hello,

Thank you for your email. I am currently on family leave, prioritizing dedicated time with my loved ones. During this period, I will have limited access to email and may not be able to respond promptly.

For any urgent matters, please reach out to [colleague's name] at [colleague's email address]. They will be available to assist you in my absence.

For non-urgent matters, I will respond to your email upon my return from family leave. I appreciate your understanding and support as I devote this time to my family.

Thank you and take care.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

10. Mental health out of office template

Subject: Taking Mental Health Time Off: Out of Office Reply

Hello,

Thank you for reaching out. I wanted to let you know that I am currently on mental health time off, prioritizing my well-being and self-care. During this period, I will not be checking my emails.

If you require immediate assistance, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email address]. They will be able to provide support in my absence.

For non-urgent matters, I will respond to your email when I return, feeling refreshed and ready to engage. I appreciate your understanding and respect for this important time for self-care.

Thank you for your support.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Invite team members to reply to emails on your behalf

Including a colleague’s contact information in your OoO message is a great way to ensure you don’t leave your contacts hanging during your absence. But if you’re already in the middle of a conversation, it’s inconvenient for your contact to catch your colleague up on everything. Fortunately, you can solve for this with Streak. 

With the free Streak extension, share emails in pipelines with your team members so they can catch up on conversation history and review context of deals, candidates, and other opportunities. 

Once you share emails in Streak pipelines, your team can view and reply to your emails even if they’re not a recipient on the thread. 

While you’re out of the office, this feature allows your team members to help with urgent messages you receive. They won’t need a recap of the situation — the whole email thread is there for them to review and use to find a solution. Your team members' emails will show up in your thread so you know exactly what happened in your absence. 

Keep your contacts in the loop during your time off

No one likes to send an email and wait for days, wondering whether they’ll ever get a response. When you’re going to be unavailable, keep everyone up-to-date with an out of office message. Choose one of our templates or draft your own message, set up the vacation responder in Gmail, and rest easy knowing your contacts will have the info they need while you’re gone. 

Now go enjoy your well-earned time off!

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