Fun with Out of Office Messages

When you’re away from the office, do you have fun with your out of office message?  Do you imagine coloring your professional persona with a sliver of your personal life?

Me neither.  Until I started having fun with my OOO message.

I was so fearful that I’d be reprimanded for letting my personality, and, possibly sarcastic wit, peak through at the office that I stuck with the bland standard message.  Every time I was away for my desk for more than a few hours, I would notify emailers with the:

  1. start date for my absence
  2. end date for my return, and
  3. how could I be reached in the case of an emergency

May I remind you that I’m in marketing.  The closest I’ve ever come to saving lives is marketing medical devices that help clinicians improve patient outcomes.  In other words, marketing “emergencies” are usually limited to questions about inventory, pricing, or features and benefits — questions that can easily be answered by other members of the marketing team or (gasp!) wait until I check my email.  It never occurred to me that I could deviate from that standard vanilla format.

But that’s the old me.  Now, I have fun with my out of office messages.  I remain professional and provide the three criterion listed above, but now I have fun with it.  I usually opt to include my journey’s destination in the context of the OOO message rather than leave recipients with a veil of secrecy.  If there’s enough time and I’m feeling particularly creative, then I’ll toss in a poem (rhyming, of course) or perhaps a haiku.  I’m pretty guarded about my private life so this has been a huge step for giving colleagues and partners a glimpse into the Megan outside of work.

For you naysayers out there, what’s the worst that could happen?  An unexpected byproduct of my unique OOO messages is that it brings laughter to recipients.  I’ve received more forwarded commentaries on my OOO messages than I can count which confirms that people are reading and processing my time away from the office.  Which is exactly the point of an OOO message, isn’t it?

If making someone chuckle is the worst thing that happens as a result, then I’ll write my quirky OOO messages every holiday and/or business trip.  I encourage you to give it a try!

Looking for some inspiration to spice up your OOO messages?  Here are some examples that I’ve used:

Subject Line:   Out of Office for a field day for the children

Message:  That’s right, MOO is competing in the Boston Children’s Hospital 1st annual Corporate Cup Challenge.  Will respond as soon as I recover from the plank challenge and tug of war.


Subject Line:  Out of Office for the Holidays: A Christmas Miracle!

Message:  I’m currently away from MOO celebrating the holidays with friends & family.  I will respond to your inquiry when I return on Monday, 12/27.  Best wishes to you and yours for a safe and happy holiday.


Subject Line:  Out of office – oh say can you see?

Message:  It’s Independence Day in the US of A and I’m hankering for some grilled hot dogs, star spangled banners and patriotic music.  Hazaah!


Subject Line:  Out of office – I’ve got something to print

Message:  It’s that time in our campaign when I head to the printer; my excitement can’t wane!

We’re going to press, if that you can believe, so I’ll have to respond to your email, at my earliest retrieve.


Subject Line:  Out of office – fancy a cup of tea?

Message: I’m a bit busy sightseeing around London, but I’ll connect with you when I return to the office on Wednesday, June 29.


Subject Line:  Out of office – Swimming in the Gulf of Mexico!

Message:  Palm trees, pelicans, and pina coladas — those are my 3Ps while on vacation April 8 – 15. If you need urgent attention, please contact XX.  Otherwise, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can when I return on Monday, April 18.


Subject Line:  Out of the office – a wee bit of neeps and tatties

Message:  I’m well chuffed to be off to Edinburgh through Tuesday, September 6th.  As the Scottish may say, keep the heid (Don’t lose your head. Keep calm.) and reach out to XX if you have any urgent questions or concerns that need to be addressed.

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