It is Memorial Day weekend in Maine, the unofficial start of summer and of the endless round of summer vacations! I am one of those going on vacation. Why yes, thank you, I am looking forward to it and will have a great time. As I prepare to be out of the office for a couple of weeks I run through the usual checklist: clear off my desk, leave notes for those covering my duties, extra water for the plants (in case they are forgotten by coworkers), tie up any loose ends, and finally set my “Out Of Office” email reply. Ah yes, the good ole OOO. It feels so good to create and turn on this message, freeing you from your email for at least a short while. It does not always feel so good to receive this message when you are looking for assistance from someone who has so rudely stepped away from some R & R.
While it must be informative and include the basics (When will you return? Who will help in your absence)? It doesn’t have to be boring! People have been having fun with their voice mail messages for years, why not have a little fun with your out of office response? While you can’t use your favorite song as a backdrop or pause after saying “hello” to trick people into thinking it is really you, there are ways to be both helpful and humorous if you put a little effort into it.
Let’s look at the standard, always professional and to the point message. “I am out of the office until [enter date here]. If your email require immediate attention, please contact [enter person’s name here]. I will respond to your email on my return.” Blah Blah Blah. How about something with a little pizzazz?
Examples found online:
• I am currently out of the office. I have a cell phone, but I will not be giving the number out. If you can guess the number, however, I will take your call.
• I will be out of the office and returning next week. I have incredibly easy access to a phone and email, but I assure you, it will not be used for work purposes.
• 404 Error: Marketing Manager not found.
A few suggestions as you prepare to craft your masterpiece:
• Find a meme or a meme generator and create a funny picture/caption that expresses your joy at being on vacation.
• Consider using a quote from your favorite movie, character, or song.
• Be mindful of who will be reading this – and whether or not your boss has a sense of humor.
• Try to avoid confusing the reader (after all, it will only be more work for you upon your return if they are not able to get help they need in your absence).
• Try to use humor that is widely accepted and understood (you message will just look dumb if the majority of your audience doesn’t get it).
I will end with this excerpt from a lengthy, but funny out of office message seen on Huffington Post. Check out the article if you want to read the full version.
“Most out of office replies just sit there and skirt the truth that someone is having fun while you’re sending an email.
I accept the disappointment that you can’t reach me – compounded by the fact that you slightly hate me for pointing out the obvious. While most Out of Office auto replies just hint at the nature of why someone is away, I’ve been brutally honest. If you are flinging something at someone’s head right now, I completely understand. The truth is I’m having fun, and you are sending me a work email. But consider this, in no time at all I’ll be reading your boring OOO reply and doing my own flinging. Circle of life.
So while there is nothing I can do to alleviate your current dislike of our situations, I accept it and promise to tip a Mai Tai to you!”
After you have had a little fun, you should probably be kind and include the basic if not boring info on when you will reply and who can help in the meantime. No need to completely alienate those who are working while you are having fun. As noted in the message above, you too will be on the other end of an out of office message at some point soon!