“Out-of-Office” Outdated?

By Posted in - Professional Development & Public Relations on November 22nd, 2017

When prepping for PTO, your mind is fixated on your much-anticipated, well-deserved time away, not on your out-of-office (“OOO”) email message.

However, take a moment to consider your OOO response. The tone, content and very existence of OOO messages have been thrown into the hot seat recently, as professionals debate what makes the ideal OOO message, if one at all. Here, we present the varying viewpoints. With which OOO response do you recommend?

The Traditional OOO: Direct, Short and Helpful

Supporters of the classic OOO message stand by its professional, succinct nature. CEO of officebroker.com Chris Meredith proffered 10 tips to crafting the effective, tried-and-true OOO email. The traditional OOO message doesn’t detail why you’re away, nor is it rude, funny or too friendly. It provides alternate contact details and correctly states when you’ll be back. Short, sweet and to the point.

The Revolutionized OOO: Clever and FunnySpice up your OOO message with a picture of baby sloths.

Visionary employees threw a curveball in the OOO email conversation and seized the email’s potential to “show your personality, generate leads and entertain your audience.” Content writers for Yesware and Travel and Leisure illustrate original approaches to the message, such as using it as a marketing opportunity (“I’m not here, but in the meantime, check out …”). Employees can exercise their rhyming skills in a poem or hone their sarcastic humor using witty jokes. Heck, even include a GIF or photo of adorable animals for good measure. Although unorthodox, the messages showcase creativity and appear more personalized to recipients.

The Outdated OOO?

Still, other professionals disagree with OOO emails altogether, deeming them unnecessary and unrealistic. The Huffington Post notes that even when physically An honest OOO email response by an overthinker.out of the office, employees likely have access to and check their email. Investment News criticizes OOO messages as a “terrible client touch point.” In order to maintain strong relationships with their clients, employees should remain available in the wake of immediate crises (and in PR, that’s one of our raisons d’être).

With such contrasting positions on OOO messages, it’s clear that no consensus has been reached on the issue. Ideally, the OOO email should strike a balance between (1) fulfilling your job duties even when off the clock, such as in the event of emergencies, and (2) allowing yourself to enjoy the vacation. Perhaps replacing the “out of office” expression with “currently unplugged from technology” may reflect a more realistic scenario.

What’s been your go-to OOO response? Before your next vacation, take some time to reassess in which camp you stand. Doing so will ensure that your clients and coworkers are appeased when you’re not there.

Written by Clairemont Intern Elizabeth Comtois, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

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