It’s Spring Break for a lot of folks (not yours truly) and mostly people remember to use the “out of office” message to let their contacts know it might take more than 5 minutes to answer their emails. Fair enough.
You want to make sure you cover the basics in your message. If you’re not there, who is the sender supposed to talk to in order to solve an issue?
Non-negotiable elements in your auto-response message:
1. Thank you for writing. Or thank you for your message. Imagine your life if no one ever sent you e-mail!
2. When are you coming back? Inquiring minds want to know (including your mother.) Other people who want to know are your suppliers, team members and clients! Possibly your boss as well.
3. What is your policy for responding while you’re not there? Are you in the African savanna, away from internet access or on a hectic tour where it will take you longer to answer emails?
4. Specify some communication alternatives. Do you have an assistant? Is the sender SOL? Do you want to give your cell phone? Is someone covering for you?
If you don’t have an assistant, this wording works:
Thank you for your message. I am traveling until (include date here.) Until my return, I will only have intermittent access to email. Rest assured that as soon as I receive your message, I will respond.”
Think about adding:
“In the case you need an immediate response, (do X.)”
Make sure your complete signature is included. You can also add humor and personality…but remember to keep it brief, clear and compassionate.