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Holiday Season Hack: How to Say, "I'm Out of the Office"

By: Teri Bernstein


How-to video in case you don't know how to do this is Outlook 2013


Out-of-office replies to email or voicemail abound during holiday season. Your workplace may have general guidelines or templates, but taking personal responsibility for their length, content and tone can shape a correspondent's reaction and response. Ask yourself if your intention is to be:


  • Humorous?
  • Distant?
  • Helpful?
  • "Crispy"?
  • Indispensable and on-call?


Remember that people's time is valuable, and they are contacting you for a reason. Try to let them know when they can contact you and find you in the office, and an alternative way to get help in the meantime. Seriously consider not misleading them with promises you can't keep. And be careful about humor, as you don't know how it might be received or misinterpreted. 


The most important thing is to leave SOME kind of notice that you are going to be out of the office, and for how long.


Source: "Your Best Ways to Say, 'Sorry, I'm Out of the Office'." by Tim Herrera, New York Times: Smarter Living, November 6, 2017.



  • Check out the suggestions that readers of the linked article serieshave shared, as well as the back story on this topic: Emily Gould. Summarize what you found to be the best suggestions.
  • Compose your own out-of-office replies for email and voicemail. Share and comment on the replies of others, paying particular notice to tone and any messages that may have been conveyed between-the-lines.