The holidays are drawing nearer. You’re itching to get out of your home office.
2020—what a year…
The list of places we can escape to is pretty short. Gatherings and visits look unlikely. We’ve added travel—local and domestic—to our 2021 wish lists.
We all need a break. While trips to the grocery store feel like an escape from the year-long Groundhog Day, we need more. More time, more pause, more mindfulness.
This needs to show in our communication, too.
As fellow work from home (WFH) colleagues throw in the towel to salvage any remaining leave, their responses grow sparse and curt.
How often have you received an abrupt, almost rude out-of-office message from someone who clearly slapped it together as an after-thought?
The worst out-of-office auto responders leave recipients feeling like they shouldn’t have bothered sending their email.
You may see responses riddled with spelling errors, incorrect dates (probably left over and unedited from the person’s last auto-responder), and which are so terribly put together it seems the sender clearly hates their job.
To avoid this in your own responder, consider the following pointers:
- Don’tleave it until the last minute. If you write the message five minutes before you’re about to dash out the door, chances are that it will leave a foul taste in someone’s mouth.
- Let people know how long you’ll be away. Check and double-check the dates you put in the message. Bonus tip:You’ll probably be returning at the start of the new year, so ensure you’ve got the year correct.
- Don’tuse a brief, rushed one-liner. Think about the impression you want to make and uphold.
- Your message needn’t be impersonal and stand-offish. You can make it a bit festive and fun while keeping it professional.
- Check the out of office setting is functional by testing it before you go on leave. If there is a problem, you’ll be able to tackle it.
- Don’tforget to include who the recipient can contact in case of emergency. This is a good idea, especially if you are away for an extended period with no access to your email or work phone. If you are leaving a company, provide a forwarding address so that recipients know who to contact when you leave, or who will assume your role.
What does a good auto-responder message look like? Here’s one you can adapt:
Thank you for your [message / email]. I am out of the office with [limited / no] access to my [email / messages]. I am away from [insert day and date] until [insert day and date].
If you need help during my absence, kindly contact ___________ [insert contact person’s name and surname] on [insert email address / telephone number].
I wish you and yours well over the festive season and holidays.
There you have it! A painless out-of-office auto responder you can save and adapt when you are away from your desk for an extended period!