You may not have stepped foot in your office in months, but you still need an out-of-office response if you plan to take time off from work. In fact, an out-of-office alert is even more important if you or your team members work remotely. Since you can’t see when everyone is at their desks or when they are working, an out-of-office note is critical to keep things running smoothly.

Stav Ziv, a senior editor and writer at The Muse, has put together some tips for crafting an appropriate auto-response during the pandemic. Whether you are away from work to recharge, to take care of a loved one or because you have been furloughed, she says the basics of out-of-office messages still apply, but with some special considerations amid the pandemic.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Ziv’s guidance and examples for writing an appropriate out-of-office message for your specific situation.

If you’re taking time off to recharge: Ziv says it’s important to consider your company culture when crafting responses, but you can also interject your own personality. If you’re taking some vacation time, you could say something like:

Hi there,
Thanks so much for your note! I’ve packed away my makeshift office for the week in order to go nowhere and do nothing. I’ll be banning myself from my inbox, so if you need something before 1/2, try Molly Fitzgerald at If it’s urgent, she’ll know how to reach me as I watch my 14th consecutive episode of The Great British Bake Off.

If you’re out sick or caring for someone who is sick: You do not have to share the details. You can simply use “family situation” or “family matters.” Try something like:

I’m OOO taking care of family matters and checking email intermittently. Although I don’t yet have an anticipated return-to-work date, I’m looking forward to reading your note when I’m back. In the meantime, you can reach out to Molly Fitzgerald at
All the best,

If you’re working a different schedule: If your schedule has changed temporarily due to a reduction in hours or because you are working while homeschooling your kids, Ziv recommends using your out-of-office message to communicate this and set expectations. Consider writing:

I’m currently working a part-time schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 AM to 5 PM and Fridays from 9 AM to 1 PM. If you’re receiving this message, it means you’ve reached me when I’m offline. If you need to speak with someone immediately, Molly Fitzgerald ( can point you in the right direction.

If you’re furloughed: Ziv says it’s up to you whether you let people know you have been furloughed. If a large part of your company has been furloughed, it might be confusing not to say so. You could say:

Thank you for your email. I am currently on furlough indefinitely and will not be checking email during this time. Please reach out to my colleague Molly Fitzgerald, who can help you find the right contact while I’m out. I’m looking forward to working with you again soon!
Stay safe,

If you prefer not to share the specifics, you might say:

Thank you for your email. I’ll be offline through mid-January without access to email. In the interim, please contact Molly Fitzgerald at
Thank you for your patience.

However you decide to word your out-of-office message, remember that a little kindness goes a long way. Consider thanking the reader for their patience and understanding. Everyone can use extra gratitude these days.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Stav Ziv is a senior editor and writer at The Muse, where she covers careers and work with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.