Gillian’s question: “I am wondering about including the reason for your absence in an out-of-office message if it is of a personal nature other than vacation. Do you require a reason such as a death in the family, medical or maternity leave? Is it fair or acceptable to say ‘… for personal reasons …’?”
BizWritingTip response: There are no specific rules regarding out-of-office replies. However, I don’t believe in using personal information in generic business emails. The people you work with directly will most likely know why you are away anyway. And as Voltaire said, “The secret of being tiresome is in telling everything.”
In addition, you never know who will end up reading your notices. (Thieves have been known to use personal information gained in auto-replies and to cross reference it to target empty houses.)
Here are two out-of-office replies that I consider professional.
Thank you for your message. I am out of the office until Monday, January 18. In my absence, please contact name, phone number and email address.
I am sorry I cannot respond to you immediately, but I am out of the office from January 5 to January 16. I will review your message upon my return. If you need immediate assistance, please contact name, phone number and email address.
- Make jokes or say “I am probably by the pool drinking a pina colada while you are reading this.”
- Use asterisks, extra punctuation, or text messaging short hand (r instead of are). They are not appropriate and probably do not meet your corporate standards.
………………… on holidays in Panama until January 30, 2011.
****************** need help *********** call Pam at 416-214-5677.