6 tips for a professional out of office during the holiday season

Published on: 15 December 2023

You have completed all the to-do's, your desk is well-organized, and you are ready to dive into the Christmas and New Year celebrations. It's time to set up your out-of-office. But a simple "I am not available" won't do anyone any good. What should an out-of-office message contain?

Here are some tips:

Why are you not working?

Are you on vacation? Are you undergoing surgery? Taking a few days off? Or are you on technical unemployment? Specify why you will be absent for a few days, but don't go into too much detail. Your clients and colleagues don't need a detailed plan of your family festivities or the specifics of your medical procedure. So, replace, "Because my schedule is overwhelmed with family celebrations, and I still have to buy a lot of Christmas gifts. I won't be present." with "I am taking a week off between Christmas and New Year's."

How long will your absence last?

It's always useful to know how long a person will be absent. Avoid any confusion and clearly communicate the duration of your absence. Mention in your out-of-office when you will be back. For example, "I will be away as of December 22, and I will be back on Tuesday, January 2nd." If you simply write that you will be "absent for a few days," no one knows when this period begins and ends.

Is there assistance during your absence?

Your clients may have an urgent question that cannot wait until the end of your absence. So, include in your out-of-office the people your clients can turn to. Mention their names, a landline number, or an email address. Also, inform this support line that you are mentioning them in your out-of-office.

Ensure not to sound too coercive: "If you have urgent questions, contact colleague X" can be intimidating to the reader. Write instead: "During my absence, colleague X will be happy to assist you."

Do you still read your emails during your vacation?

In this digital age, it is challenging for some people to take a complete break. With your smartphone in hand, you can easily access your professional email. Clients may also count on this. As a security measure, indicate in your out-of-office whether you will read your emails during your absence.

Our advice is to completely distance yourself from work to recharge during your absence. So, put something like "I do not have access to my emails" in your Out-of-Office. Or "I will not read my emails during my absence."

Make it personal

A straightforward out-of-office is informative and very useful, but a personal one makes reading a bit more enjoyable. Mention your holiday destination or use humor in your message. For example, "Until January 2nd, I am enjoying time with family. My colleague X will be happy to assist you during my digital detox at 01 234 56 78. I will be back at the office on January 2nd."

Prepare for your departure one day in advance

It's 4:30 PM, and you're ready to go home. Your desk is tidy, and your colleagues have been informed. And then, it's time to quickly activate the out-of-office. In that moment, "I am absent for two weeks" is quickly chosen. That's why you should prepare your out-of-office message one day in advance.

This way, your clients know that the last day before the holidays is the one when you wouldn't like to be disturbed. It's better to leave your out-of-office active for one more day. This way, everyone knows that you just returned on that day, and you won't immediately respond to new emails.