Best Practices for Out Of Office Messages

It is common to leave an away or Out of Office (OOO) message on your email to let folks know that they may not hear back from you until you return. Some even leave another point of contact in case of emergencies. As the number of cyber attack cases increase, it’s important to reevaluate your methodology of what you say and to whom during your absence. Here are a few ideas to help you think differently about sharing your itinerary (or not).


Business Email

Leaving an OOO auto response is courteous in a professional setting. Some of your contacts may expect a quick response, especially if you:

  • Are customer facing,
  • Work with several vendors,
  • Manage a teams or project(s),
  • Work on deadline – either your own or others’ deadlines,
  • Have others whom rely on you for time-sensitive information, or
  • Are the big cheese.

It’s not only important to say you are out of the office, but let them know the day you are returning to the office. If possible, have a colleague be a point of contact in your absence. Make sure you leave the accurate contact information for that person – email AND phone number. The way others communicate may be different from how you prefer to communicate.

Personal Email

You may think it is necessary to leave an OOO message on your personal email. If you decide to leave an away message, be mindful of the details you share in your message. When your message mentions that you are “out of town” from and to a specific date to, you are telling everyone that you are not home for an extended period of time. Telling people, including criminals, that you are out of town, means they can potentially use this information against you. It would leave your home and your valuables, or anyone else at home, very vulnerable to a possible break in. If you insist on leaving an away message on your Yahoo, Gmail, or other personal email, safer and more vague verbiage could be: “I have limited access to email right now. If you need to reach me, please give me a call on my cell phone.”

Be Mindful of Wording

When your away message relays too much information, says where you are going, how long you are away, and whether or not you can be reached while out, criminals could use this information against you. For example, if you say where you are going some may know that you will be in an airport and vulnerable to attack while on public wifi. If you are careful in what and how you word your away message, you can get your point across without being fearful of someone trying to gain access. A really simple away message is usually best, something like: “Thank you for contacting me. I am currently unavailable but will respond as soon as I can.”

Auto Replies are From You to Everyone

When we are crafting our auto reply messages, we tend to only think about informing those we know that we are out of town or out of the office. However, our close colleagues, family and friends know other ways to reach out to us if they really need us. Instead, we should think of auto replies being sent to people we don’t know, we may instinctually be more careful about what information we are willing to share with strangers.


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