28 Apr
How to Write a Fun Out of Office Message

I kind of love writing out of office messages. First, because I like that I can be creative and silly, and second, because it means I’m about to NO LONGER BE WORKING. At my job (and with my friends on Facebook) I’m well known for putting up silly out of office messages, so I thought I’d share some for inspiration. But first, some thoughts on what to include. 

Dual Purposes for your OOO Message 

If you work at a company where your out of office message is visible as soon as someone types your name in the to field, you may be in luck! You can ideally use your out of office message to try to direct them to send an email to someone besides you! I’ve seen employees even with a list of contacts for each area they support. When I’ve been out of office for longer times (e.g., maternity leave or a sabbatical) I’ve made a paragraph stating who the correct point of contact is for the departments I support or work I oversee. The intent is that ideally, the person emailing you will view your out of office and delete your name in the to field and add someone else instead! 

Your out of office message should also indicate if you will NOT check and respond to emails. I know many of you are thinking, isn’t that the purpose of the out of office message? But depending on where you work, the out of office message may really mean “I’m still checking my emails and responding, but I may not respond as quickly as I usually do.” So be clear! If you are on vacation and not intending to work, you can bluntly say this! I’ve also heard employees say they will not have access to check email while they are gone to try to ensure that message comes across. 

Maybe the key here is that if you are emailing someone who is out of office, maybe don’t? Maybe it can wait till they come back? And chances are by then it’s no longer as urgent anyway. 

Making it Fun 

If you are looking for some inspiration – here are some ideas on making your out of office message just a little quirkier. 

  • Suggest a novel way to contact you – for instance, if you are boating suggest they use a message in a bottle.
  • Be honest – Will your PTO be spent watching your kid’s and spouse play animal crossing while you try to get them excited about your fun road trip? Add that in.
  • Share personal details – Are you doing something fun? Or something very boring – share some info vs. a generic out of office statement. Irony usually works well in these cases.

Fun Examples I’ve Used (or Seen):

When My Parents Visited for my Twin’s First Birthday

I'm out of the office until Wednesday, April 7th to spend some time with my visiting parents as we celebrate Gisele & Vivienne's 1st birthday! So, I'll be at home, watching kids, having slight disagreements on parenting philosophies, or eating leftover cake. 

Visiting Nebraska During Winter

I'm out of the office visiting the premier January travel destination of Nebraska, where the forecast this weekend calls for anywhere between 5"-75" inches of snow. If you have an urgent need to reach me, your best options are to rent a snowplow and head on over, or to sent me a text. I intend to be back in the office on Thursday, Jan 24th, but it's hard to make promises when snow and air travel are involved.

'Taking a Day off when Daycare was Closed
I am out of the office on Monday, December 14th. I'll be spending the day with my 3-year-old, whose current fascination is that some mushrooms are okay to eat and some are not. It's a riveting conversation until you have it seven times in one day. Wish me luck. 

My High School Reunion

I'm currently out of office traveling back to my hometown of Wahoo, Nebraska for my 20 year high school reunion. I only had 36 kids in my class, so I certainly hope I'm not the only one who shows up. I am also flying solo with a 2 year old, so I'm not sure how this counts as a "vacation." If you need immediate assistance please feel free to either visit me in Nebraska, or you can email the HR inbox, or I will return your email when I respond on Thursday, September 5th. 

My Parents Visiting me before the Twins Arrived

I am out of the office on 1/2 through 1/6 while my parents are visiting from Nebraska. My dad retired on 12/31 so we will immediately put him back to work assembling nursery room furniture. We don't want him to get bored after all. If you need immediate assistance, please email -----.  If you want help assembling furniture, sorry, my dad is already busy, so you are on your own. 

Another No Daycare Example

I will be out of the office on Monday, Nov 11th as my daughter's daycare is closed. I will be listening to repeated chants of "Totoro!" as she tries to convince me to let her watch TV while I try to convince her to do anything other than watching TV. I believe there is a betting pool on how long I last until I cave. Wish me luck. 

It’s Halloween!

I am on PTO this Halloween and will return back to work on Friday, November 1st. I will be spending my day cajoling my 2-year-old into wearing the cat costume we bought her that she is apparently terrified of. Wish me luck. 

Holiday PTO
I am celebrating the holidays, including an unreasonable portion of holiday cookies, and a somewhat embarrassing amount of presents for our one-year-old, who will probably ignore them all to play with their boxes. I will be back in the office on Wednesday, January 2nd. If you have a very urgent matter, I suggest a letter to Santa, but for only somewhat urgent matters, you can always send me a text. 

Visiting my new Nephew

I would love to answer your email, but I am currently snuggling with my new nephew Hendrix! I'll be back in the office next Tuesday, and I'll be happy to answer your email or share photos of my new nephew then.  

And here are some bonus messages from colleagues that have served as inspiration. 

Here is an away message one of my bosses had up once. I don’t creepily keep these – I did an “away message” search on Facebook to pull all these and had shared my boss’s fun away message at one point. 

I will be out of the office the week of July 3 volunteering at a Boy Scout camp. My understanding is that the ratio of bears to cell phone towers in North Georgia is 2356 to 1 so I will not be available during the week for either e-mails or phone calls.  

And this was the coworker’s message that started me down this path. I was new at my company, and one of my coworker’s had this as his out of office message. So seeing this let me know it was okay to toe the line where I work on having a fun message.

 Hello, and thank you for your interest in actuarial science.  Unfortunately, I am out of the office until Monday, October 7th and will have limited access to email during this time.  In case of Actuarial Emergency I can be reached at xxxx. This week in Actuarial History: Did you know that Columbus only discovered America because his chief actuary/butler was on PTO the week in 1492 when he was supposed to QA the actuarial navigation model. So remember, if you go on an adventure and forget to pack an actuary, half your friends may die of scurvy.  

Need suggestions for a fun message? Write a comment below with some info on why you’ll be out office and I’ll try to help you out!  

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