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Out of office messages – top ten biggest sins

Chris Meredith

How an employee sets their out of office response when they’re away on holiday tells bosses an awful lot about their professionalism and attitude to the job. From Chris Meredith, CEO of explains the top ten biggest sins when it comes to writing the out of office message.

If you’re away for at least two weeks an out of office email response can be sent literally hundreds of times to colleagues and clients – so mistakes can be costly, not least in terms of damaging future promotional prospects. So ambitious office workers must carefully craft their out of office emails, if they want to get ahead and climb the corporate ladder.

1: Forgetting to set one up. Not bothering to set one up at all is probably the biggest mistake. It lets bosses know your slap dash at best or totally unprofessional at worst. The implication is, ‘I’m on holiday, screw you lot.’

2: Forgetting to say when you’ll be back. You need to let people know when you’ll be back at work. Getting the dates wrong is worse than forgetting to set it altogether because it makes you look stupid.

3: Bragging about your holidays. Resist the urge to type something about chillaxing or sipping pina coladas by the pool while everyone else is working. Clients won’t be impressed and neither will bosses.

4: Being rude. You may be out of the office but that’s no excuse to be rude to people. Remember to type please and thank you.

5: Filling it up with office speak and jargon such as you’ll ‘revert’ when you get back. You don’t talk like this in the real world so why should you on email?

6: Being too friendly. Workers often write out of office messages with their friends in mind so the tone is casual and informal. They forget that this message will be sent to everyone who gets in touch over the coming weeks so it needs to be professional. No ‘mate’s or ‘darling’s.

7: Forgetting to give alternative contact details. Just because you aren’t there doesn’t mean the business has to grind to a halt. So remember to give the details of someone who can manage enquires if you aren’t there.

8: Forgetting to tell your alternate contact. There is no point in giving your boss’s contact details without telling her. Even worse she could be on holiday too.

9: Trying to be funny. Out of office messages should be clear concise and polite. But they don’t need to be funny unless you’re a professional stand up.

10: Forgetting to turn the darned thing off. You’ve had your holiday and now you’re back in the office. But your email keeps telling people you are still away. We’ve seen these go on for weeks and even months after someone’s return. Turn it OFF.