Come Christmas time, there’s nothing quite like tidying up your desk, shamefully closing your 50 Chrome tabs, and switching on your out-of-office responder for the holidays.
In an instant, you feel a weight lifted from your shoulders, and a choir of angels sing Paul Kelly’s How to Make Gravy around you as you skip out of the office. You gaze upon the masses of workers on the tram, smugly wondering if their out-of-office responses are on yet.
Later, relaxing by the pool with a shandy in hand, disaster strikes.
A client rings to tell you your out-of-office message has a typo in it, or, worse, is mind-numbingly boring. Suddenly you’re wrenched out of holiday mode and back into the throes of work, weeping as you log back into your email server to change your response as your shandy grows warm and flat.
While the above is almost certainly a dramatisation, getting your out-of-office message right over the holiday period is arguably as important as all other facets of business. Cashflow? Investments? Who needs ’em when you’ve got an auto-response that’ll make people chortle!
With that in mind, we’ve put together five simple examples of what your out-of-office message could look like, from the wild and wacky to the simple and fact-y. And if you’re not sure about the logistics of actually setting your auto-responder, here’s a quick guide on how to do that.
1. The sensible option
Wow, it’s a bloody snooze fest over here! Just kidding, this option is the most appropriate for 95% of business out-of-office responses. It’s simple, no-nonsense, and tells people all they need to know.
The main thing to equivocate over for this sort of response is what details to include as a backup contact method. If your line of work means clients might need to urgently contact you, a mobile number might be appropriate, or if you’re lucky enough to have an assistant (must be nice), you can list their contact details.
Otherwise, a referral to your company’s general contact email or a simple ‘I’ll respond when I get back, stop bugging me’ should do the trick.
Thank you for your email. I’m out of the office for the holidays and will be back on [date]. During this period I will have limited access to my email. If you need to contact me, I can be reached on [number, another email, mailing address], otherwise, I will respond to your email on my return.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year [or any variation on these salutations].
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2. The cheeky meme option
Use this response if you’re in a millennial workforce or you want to seem ‘down with the kids’. Or if you spend way too much time on Twitter.
Don’t use this response if these few sentences make no sense to you at all.
Example (a very poor take on this classic meme):
Associate, if this email is:
- hitting your inbox between [date] and [date];
- got sent to you unusually quickly and;
- is the same response no matter how many times you email;
it’s not your standard email response. It’s [your name’s] out-of-office because [he/she/they] are on holidays and will respond when they return.
3. The emoji response
With emojis looking different on nearly every operating system and brand of smartphone, this is a bold choice which could leave your emailers confused. Are you crying with laughter or wailing with existential dread? Hard to tell.
But if you want to throw caution to the wind, take this for a whirl.
4. The out-of-office carol
This is the perfect out of office for anyone who just LOVES Christmas. As in, the sort of person who does all their Christmas shopping in September, wears Christmas-related apparel all November and December, and probably single-handedly organised the entire office Christmas party.
The idea for this one is to pick your favourite Christmas carol and repurpose it for your out-of-office response. It’s festive and sure to get a laugh! (Whatever you do, just don’t pick Baby It’s Cold Outside).
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
With the work hours quelling,
and everyone telling you,
‘Please keep my inbox clear,’
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Etc, etc …
If you want to go the extra mile, you could even sing it.
5. The incredibly boastful response
Finally, if you’re doing something incredible for the holiday break, you may as well let people know about it. Heading skiing for a few weeks, or going on a cruise? Put it in your out of office! It’s not like your emailers can do anything about it.
However, if you do choose to do this, make sure you actually follow through and do the thing you’re bragging about, unlike this New York Times reader who was just a bit too bold.
“We went to New Zealand and I informed everyone in my [out of office] that I was ‘bungee jumping in Queenstown’, which seemed like what I should do in Queenstown,” the reader said.
“When I got there and found out the bungee was 134 feet high I got terrible cold feet, but I felt that since I wrote it, I had to do it. So I did. It was terrifying and indeed a lesson on making bold claims in a public way!”
But despite these (fantastic) suggestions, the number one rule for choosing your out of office is that it reflects who you are as a person. Don’t change for anyone, especially not your auto-responder.