One of the last things we do before taking leave is setting an automatic out-of-office message. In the last-minute rush to get out the door, you may forget to include some key information. Leaving your contacts unsure how to respond.
An effective out-of-office message can even help avoid any unnecessary attempts to contact you while you're away.
Here's a quick guide on what to include in your out-of-office reply, and how it can be easily reused in future.
Key info for your Automatic Out-of-Office reply
Here's the essential information to include in your out-of-office reply:
- Specific dates (and times if relevant) you’re unavailable, e.g. 12 pm Friday June 29 - Monday July 9.
- The date and time you will return, e.g. I will be available from 10 am July 9.
- An alternate contact if the subject needs to progress in your absence.
- If you’ve set your email account to automatically forward to a colleague.
You may also choose to disclose if you will have access to your email while away, e.g. I will have limited access to my email during this period.
Including these elements will allow your contact to be fully aware of your availability, provide them with the ability to receive help from a colleague, and confirm whether the email will be seen by anyone else at your organisation.
Here's an example automatic reply:
I am currently away on leave between 22/12/2018 - 06/01/2019 and will have limited access to my email. I will be returning on Monday January 7 at 10 am.
Please contact Sentrian, at 1300 791 678 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if your email needs attention before then.
This email has not been forwarded.
How to set automatic replies
In Outlook 2019, open the main Outlook window > click File (in the top, left corner) > click Automatic Replies (it's about halfway down the middle of the screen).
You will be able to:
- Set the specific time-period for automatic replies to be enabled (or they can continue until disabled).
- Set a unique message for contacts based within your organisation or external contacts.
- Choose to auto-respond to all email or just emails from existing users in your contact list.
Here is an example:
Thankfully, when you eventually switch off automatic replies, the email you drafted will remain in this window. Allowing you to simply update the dates and times the next time you're out of the office.
For Outlook mobile apps, tap the hamburger icon (that's the name for the icon with three horizontal lines) > tap the gear icon in the bottom left > tap the account you want to enable automatic replies > tap automatic replies.
You should now see similar options to the desktop version of Outlook.
Sentrian Email Resources
See our other email articles on:
- Sentrian Guide to Avoiding Email Scams
- How-to forward a suspicious email to the Service Desk
- Sentrian security guides