Saturday, August 16, 2008

Auto "Out of Office" Replies

I've never been a big fan of the auto "out of office" e-mail reply. In most cases today, what does being out of the office have to do with your relative accessibility? They're way overused. Most of the time, I receive an auto out of office reply message only to be followed by an actual reply five minutes later. In fairness, they do have some utility, particularly if you're traveling out of the country and your times zones fall dramatically out of sync or if you're in one of these all day meetings with only short breaks in between where it can be extremely difficult to get back to clients or colleagues on a timely basis.

Vacations? Well that's a choice. Some people like a total break from the workplace. For me, I'd rather take a little time each day to keep up with my e-mail so I don't have hundreds of them sitting there upon my return.

Todd Andrlik offered what he describes as the Top Ten "Out of Office" Auto Replies. While Todd's Top 10 may be a little over-the-top and turn more than a few heads at your office, if you have to use an auto "out of office" reply, then at least be a little creative!


  1. Leo, as always you make excellent points. I use an out of office auto reply only if I'll be out for more than a couple of days with limited access to email. I like to give people the opportunity to reach out to another team member should they need immediate assistance. I am also sure to specify whether I'm traveling for business or on vacation, so those who have my cell phone number will be judicious about its use. It seems to work pretty well.

  2. Hi Leo,

    I personally agree with this, but to a point.

    Taking a "total" vacation from your e-mails helps productivity, since a person starts to truly relax about 3 1/2 days after they've gone into vacation mode. I understand that you will have tons of e-mails when you get back, but are you really on vacation if you check your e-mails during your vacation?


    Richard Rinyai

  3. I think you make a good point about taking a total vacation. That said, for me (and I realize I may not be typical in this regard), I don't just check my e-mail to avoid the pile when I get back, I also check it because it HELPS me relax, and plus, I love what I do so I barely consider it work. I also check it during off hours so that my checking e-mail from time to time doesn't detract from the vacation experience of others.

  4. Hi Leo,

    Saw your tweet and I wanted to say my favourite out of office reply was an "I'm retired" one. Made me smile for the person and they told me who to contact now that they had left the organization. Talk about leaving a legacy.

  5. Now THERE'S an auto reply message I could live with ;-)



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