Out of the Office? Say It with Humor

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek August 30, 2018

Another holiday is around the corner—time to turn on the out-of-office (OOO) reply on your phone and computer, signaling your absence. Of course, you could simply state that you will be gone but will respond to any messages upon your return.


Or you could leave a humorous message, like the one left by Sean Leahy, sales manager at JPO Concepts Inc., an event-planning firm in New York City:

"Hi there! Hate to break it to you, but I'm onsite at an event today, Friday, July 27, and will not be checking e-mails. I'm sure you probably don't want to hear this, since you're working yourself, so here's a cat video to cheer you up: 


"I'll be back in the office on Monday, July 31. Please reach out to info@jpoconcepts.com with any urgent requests. Have a great weekend!"

Helah Kehati, JPO Concepts logistics manager, noted, "Our office actually takes a lot of pride in having great OOO replies," like this one, also from Leahy:

"WHAT ARE YOUUUU doing e-mailing me on YOUR day off?" 

Carol Roth, founder of Chicago-based Future File, a funeral and estate-planning service, told SHRM Online that she leaves some variation of the following message:

"I am unplugged and away from my e-mail until [date]. Right now, I am either in the spa getting a massage, gazing at the ocean or maybe just messing with you. You decide. Due to the volume of daily e-mails that I receive, I won't be able to respond back to any e-mail received during my absence.

"For my sanity, all e-mails during that time will be mass-deleted upon my return. If this is an important matter, please reach out again after [date]. If it's not an important matter, please stop e-mailing people and go have some fun!"

Jason Parks, owner of Cleveland Marketing King in Ohio, appreciated the sentiment in the following reply he received:

"I'm on an emergency golf trip and will be unable to answer any calls or e-mails."

The message showed, Parks said, that the person doesn't take himself too seriously. And as a golfer, he added, "I was able to appreciate not wanting to be bothered on a personal day off on the course!"

Some messages are enhanced with photos, like the one from Volen Vulkov, co-founder and chief product officer of resume company Enhancv in Sofia, Bulgaria: 

"Hey, you just missed me. I wrapped up everything and I'm OOO, attending the best graduation ceremony ever at [Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts]. I'll be back on Monday, May 29. Here's a snapshot of my last minute in the office.

"Anyway, if your question can wait, great. If not, send it to the person who will bring satisfaction and meaning to your life—[co-worker's e-mail address]. In case of emergency (e.g., someone needs help with his resume), you can reach me at [phone number]."

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Organizational Communication]

David Vallance, one of the founders of Lease Fetcher, a car-leasing comparison website in Glasgow, U.K., saw the following message a few years ago and liked it so much he copied the idea immediately:

Morning/Afternoon! I'm currently out of the office on holiday.  

The "done" thing is to say I'll have "limited access" to e-mails and won't respond until I return. Well, that's not strictly true. I've got my laptop with me and I can/will respond to essential stuff. 

That said, I promised my partner that I'll disconnect as much as possible and try to enjoy our holiday. So, I'm leaving the decision up to you: 

    • If your e-mail is genuinely urgent and you need a response from me while I'm on holiday, please forward it to interruptyourholiday@leasefetcher.co.uk and I'll try to respond to it as quickly as I can.
    • If you think someone else at LeaseFetcher might be able to help you (and they probably can), e-mail my colleague Stewart and he'll point you in the right direction. 

Otherwise, I'll respond when I return.

Kind regards,


Beach Life GIF.gif
"I like it," Vallance said, "because it reminds people that your OOO is on because you're actually on holiday and not just dodging their e-mails. It attaches a real consequence to their action, which is super-effective in reducing nonessential communication."

Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing in the Atlanta area, received the following OOO reply that included the GIF to the right: 

"I'm away from my desk drinking mai tais on a Caribbean beach far away from Wi-Fi. It's likely your message will be swallowed up in the inbox oasis. So, if you require a response, please resend your e-mail after August 30."

Some messages just can't be replicated, like the one left two years ago by Al Maag, founder and CEO of brand and marketing firm Maagcommplus in Tempe, Ariz.:

"In Chicago, at Wrigley for Cubs games in the World Series … don't even think of bothering me."

Messages can be short but to the point, like the one Kristen Lueck, director of editorial communications and digital marketing at Remedy Review based in Raleigh, N.C., saw recently:

"I'm not in the office right now, but if it's important, tweet me using #youareinterruptingmyvacation."


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