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If you’ve been furloughed, your work week reduced or if you’re working solo in place of five others, the last thing you’re likely thinking about is your out-of-office message.

But please do.

Take a moment to consider the impression your OOO is making. We’re all just one word, one look, one emotion away from panic and your message will either add to your recipient’s sense of emotional certainty or elevate uncertainty.

Here is a doozy:

“I will be out of the office. If this is urgent, please contact the main office at 555-555-5555 or reach me by cell phone.”

Except the cell phone is not listed anywhere in the OOO. And when are you coming back? And may I only contact the main office if my question is urgent? What if I just want to know something?

And another:

“Dear Sender,
Due to the impact that the Coronavirus has had on our world and industry, I will be out of office till May 31st. I am currently unable to access my email and will reply as soon as I am back.
Thanks for your understanding”

I get it. You’re furloughed until the end of May. But what about me and my question? Is it just going to linger in your inbox. And holy smokes… how many emails will you have waiting for you when you return so when can I realistically expect to hear from you?

You can do better by being compassionate, truthful and helpful.

1. Tell me when to expect you back or when I can expect to hear back. Knowing you’re out of the office tells me nothing.
2. Allow me to phone even if it’s just a question. Unless you’re 911, don’t make them do something differently if the situation isn’t an emergency.
3. If it’s okay to call you on your mobile, provide the number.
4. Add personality. Yours or your brand’s.
5. Add humanity. A kind word goes a long way, especially today.

Here is a very basic, but positive, OOO to help the sender feel confident about continuing a relationship with you:
Thanks for your email. I’m returning to the office DATE and until then, you can depend on my associates at the main office/please call my mobile – # – so we can continue to be of service to/help you/answer all questions.

Stay well!

Before you go…

Are you looking for fresh, modern ideas to boost success at your next sales meeting or conference? SpeakerSue will energize your meeting, keep everyone engaged and provide the “kick” your team needs to create a cultural change in the way they communicate.

To use email more strategically and successfully, send an email to or call (+1-480-575-9711) to check availability. You can count on fresh, practical content to convert more leads and drive revenue and profitability.

PS. What comments, ideas or stories do you have to add to today’s post? You can do me a huge favor by adding your insights and comments, or forwarding the post. Thanks for your help!


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