Out of office

For the next week I will be out of office – far out. In fact, I’ll be hiking in Croatia.

But while I’m gone, here’s a challenge for you: What’s the best “Out of office” reply you’ve ever seen? One that goes beyond just “I’m not available and will be back on xx/xx”. One that’s fun, creative and different.

Post it in a comment here. Best contribution before August 15 wins a copy of my book Happy Hour is 9 to 5.

And while you’re at it, maybe you can think about a more fun and creative “Out of office” mail for when you go on vacation.

33 thoughts on “Out of office”

  1. Hey Alex,
    I think my boss Niels, out of office email is pretty good at the moment…
    It’s better than the standard & dull I am currently unavailable and when I read it, it put a smile on my face.
    Warren :)

    I’m enjoying some quiet offline family time in a tent somewhere in
    likely rainy Denmark. As you could imagine, bringing electronics at
    such a place would be foolish. I’m not saying that I’m smart, just
    that I’m not a fool so I’ll be enjoying some analogue books :-)

    The side effect is of course that I won’t get back to you until I –
    surprise – get back. I will on July 25th, but as I usually get ~100
    emails daily don’t get mad at me for not getting back on the very day.
    And flags, “SUPER URGENT” or likewise really don’t make any
    difference. Relax. We’ll all survive. While you wait you could:
    1) Check out the awesome videos from our even “awesomer” developer
    conference – CodeGarden ’11 –
    2) Testdrive our “Courier 2” product that makes deployment a breeze:
    3) Learn what it’s like to be A BOSS in under two minutes:
    4) Watch some paint dry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd9CxIlkjpk

    If you’re in panic now, it’s nice to know that Umbraco is a massive,
    enterprise, carrier-grade sized company. Why you ask? Because it means that you can get in touch with my handsome yet intelligent colleagues if you really need to:
    – Paul Sterling (email removed)
    – Peter Gregory (email removed)
    – Per Ploug Hansen (email removed)

    Kind regards,
    Niels Hartvig

  2. Alex, what a cool idea! Be entertaining to see what folks put for their out of office.

    Warren…I love that!! :) Niels must be an awesome boss to work for lol!

  3. A friend of mine used the same Out of Office message message for a long time. He used to have a variant of this for his voicemail.

    I’m Walter’s refrigerator. Unfortunately the mail server is having a nervous breakdown, so the rest of us drew straws, and you’re stuck with me.
    However, no worries, as I will paste a sticky note on my door with your message (in much better penmanship than the sink could ever achieve!).
    I’m sure that walter will eventually stumble across it once he’s back and getting hungry.
    I should warn you that any reply might not be the same day that Walter gets back, as the Chinese take-away across the street is excellent. :)

    With kind regards,

  4. A fellow soldier mobilized for the US Army with me in 2003:

    Hello, and thank you for your message.

    I will be out of the office for two years, until Saddam Hussein is dead, or until the President sends me home. I will not have access to e-mail during this time.

  5. I also liked the idea, Alex. And I’m enjoying the out of office messages in the comments very much, so far. I’m sure it will be pretty difficult to choose the winner.

  6. My former boss used this one sentence at te end of a dull Corporate template ooo-mail:

    “If your email is urgent, please feel free to panic.”

    Made me smile every time ;-)

  7. I used the following auto-responder when I left on my last vacation:

    I am out of the country on a slow boat to Hawaii for three weeks. I do not anticipate checking my emails while out at sea. I will return on May 15. Please be patient as I may not get back to your emails quickly due to my brain being fried from all the sun.

    Of course, it was more than 3 weeks before I got back, because the day I arrived back home, my whole town was evacuated due to a wildfire that subsequently burned down 1/3 of the town (my house included). As a result, this auto responder stayed up longer than anticipated…

  8. I love the idea of a fun message, but I think it’s a really bad idea to advertise that your home may be empty.

    Would love ideas which maintain some privacy.

  9. Love it, Love it, Love it, Alex!

    Can I use this post as a base for a soon-to-follow blog post / article / trend letter entry / excuse to go on holiday ?



    PS: I do love all the exapmles, too. What a relief to see that there are actually creative people who do not take e-mails yet do take holidays seriously.

  10. I’ve occasionally included some ascii art animals at the bottom of my out of office emails. Something to the effect of the usual “I’ll be out until… in my absence please contact …” followed by, ” and if none of that works, you can ask this wise old owl” followed by an ascii owl, or “give your message to this baby elephant, and he’ll remember to tell me when I get back”. There’s lots of variations you can come up with, and tons of ascii art animals you can copy and paste in.

  11. All these “out of office” e-mails are fun and really creative, in our culture (Bulgaria), however, it would not seem serious to have such replies especially to senders outside the company.

  12. I got good responses from this responder (the only one that has so far seemed to have the desired effect in 20+ years of trying).

    I’m taking a long weekend with my lovely wife to celebrate our tenth anniversary.

    No, I will not be checking email.
    No, I will not answer my phone.

    Thanks for understanding that sometimes a man just has to unplug and keep to his ultimate priorities.


  13. On trawling through bounce-backs from a email newsletter, I came accross one which made me giggle:

    I’m out of the office forever! Because I’ve retired :)

    So sweet!

  14. Most of the ones I’ve seen use the automatic out-of-office reply message. The most straightforward one I’ve seen, however, says,

    “Nope, not here.

    Oh, you e-mailed me again? What’s that, three now? Still not here.”

  15. What a great post and comments! It SOOO inspires me to change up my boring out of office reply to one that is human and connects (and causes a chuckle) with the person who is emailing. I sent this article on to the company. Let’s see who else is inspired!

    Well done!

  16. Love the out of office email from Warren. Would like to know Niels more. Well, I still would like to invite Alex to telkomsigma (in Indonesia), if Niels still out of office.

    Btw, Alex, I already ordered your book. So you don’t need to give me a free copy ;p

    My out of office message:

    “I am down under the sea during the day and get my self drunk during the night in beautiful Gili Trawangan. So, I will not be sober enough in the mean time to response to your email. Please do not wait for me, try to figure something out to find a solution. You will be surprised that you are knowledgeable person, and don’t need me all the time. Still can’t find any solution after trying? Fine, now you can go see my supervisor, she won’t bite you. I promise you that if you did try”.

    Have a great holiday, Alex!

  17. Love Bob’s – that one’s great! Next time I’m on holiday I will be sure to do something more interesting for my out of office reply!

  18. These responses are cracking me up! It’s good to see people getting creative with their out-of-office responders (without going so far as to be unprofessional). Enjoy beautiful Croatia!

  19. Vesela, I completely disagree :) The auto-respond is not meant for the common mail (marketing@, sales@, support@, however under specific circumstances support@ may need also autoresponder, which is better to be fun), and if the client is writting to your email, you have at least some relationship, or maybe you are the contact person for something – and you have to redirect the inquiry to someone another. If it is not ‘fun’ message and just asks me to resend my mail to someone another, I’d be pissed off. If it is creative one, I will contact the other person. If I know you (I have your email after I met you and you’ve gave me my cart), some creative message can only improve our relationship. Btw I recommend you to watch ‘Steve Keil – The play manifesto’ – he is doing business in Bulgaria for last 10 years.

  20. I was out of the office on Friday, so I left this out-of-office message:

    I will be out of the office on Friday, July 22. Don’t panic! I’ll be back on Monday. If you need immediate assistance please contact my manager, or just wait till I get back.

    It was something like that, and when I came back to work this morning, my manager had changed it because someone in the company complained. :( So much for my attempt at happiness in this workplace!

  21. one of the most recent I received from a fellow employee –

    I will not be here from the 20th of July until further notice. In my absence, please contact………. I have total confidence that everything will continue to run smooth in my absence. Thank you.

    What a way to compliment the staff while being on leave!

  22. All those are great ooo replies! I work in sales for a Bulgarain IT company and most of our team is about to go on vacation this month, so I decided to leverage my auto-reply as a sales effort to help meet our monthly goals. I shared it with the team and one of the comments was “This is genius, Anton! Pure genius! I’ll encourage [our boss name] to send you on vacation EVERY month”. So I will be taking vacations more often now :) Here it is:

    Thank you for your e-mail.

    I’m on vacation until August 15, 2011. Our sales team has decided to celebrate my absence with a great promotion: now you can get 10% off on selected Sitefinity CMS licenses (landing page link)

    You can save up to $2000, while I will be wasting my money on my summer holiday.

    I will try to get back to you as soon as I’m back at work. In the meantime, please feel free to contact sales@sitefinity.com and claim your savings.

    Best regards,

  23. I received this out of office reply once at a company I worked for a few years back which I thought was an excellent way to really sift out the important stuff while you’re away but I’ve never had the guts to use it myself :)

    Dear Sender,

    I will be out of the office from July 1st to July 15th. Any emails received during this time will be deleted. If your email is urgent, please re-send it once I am back from leave.


  24. I am currently away from my desk.

    I know I’m supposed to say that I have limited access to email and won’t be able to respond until I return – but that’s simply not true. My Windows phone will be with me and I can respond if I need to. I recognise that although I have a full-time job and my evenings and weekends are spent working on large, complex projects, I’ll probably need to interrupt my treasured time that I spend away from the endless work I do at my desk, to deal with something urgent.

    That said, I promised my husband that I am going to try to disconnect, get away from my desk and enjoy some quality time together. So, I’m going to experiment with something new; I’m going to leave the decision in your hands:

  25. You are probably accustomed to getting these automatic replies when people are on vacation to some exotic place or at an important business meeting.


  26. i have just handed in my notice and know that my email account will remain live for a while after i leave, i’m still working on this but it will go along the lines of

    i no longer work for this company so if it was only me that could assist i’m affraid you are all out of luck, but keep your chin up dig deep and i’m sure you will surprise yourself of what you can actually when you dont have someone else to dump your problems on.

    not sure how long they will leave this on for but hope it makes a few smile, anyway i have to get on with finding other things to do except work

  27. I’ve been using ascii art for my internal out going messages.
    Kinda old school. :)

  28. Here’s one that get’s laughs from my peers and one that I’ve used for a few years running!
    Itís the week during Christmas, and Iím not in Ďda houseí
    Iím not using my computer, not even the mouse.
    I will check my email, some here and some there,
    In hopes to get back to you with timeliness thatís fair.

    Have a very Merry Christmas and Iíll see you next year!

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