The Easter holidays are just around the corner which means plenty of people will be using up just nine days of their holiday allowance in favour of 18 days off from work. But before you shut down your computer for the final time on the afternoon of the 18th April, you’ll have to set up your autoresponder, or at least ask your IT manager to do it.

With that in mind, we thought it might be a good time to share some do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing your out of office!

Do set a reminder to do it

It’s not uncommon for people to forget about activating their out of office so make sure you set a reminder in your calendar to switch it on!

Do keep it short and sweet

Just like with most things in life, your out of office is best kept short and sweet. People don’t need to know your life story, just the important details.

Do specify when you’ll be back

The main objective of an out of office is to inform others that you’re away from your desk so it’s vital to include the exact date you’ll be back. Saying “will return on Monday” isn’t enough as you’ll need to specify an actual date – your recipients aren’t mind readers and don’t know when you wrote the out of office!

Do include contact details

A vital piece of information you should include is contact details for the person who would be best for people to get in touch with whilst you’re not there. Failing that, you should include the department email address or phone number. You may wish to include links to your website! Also, don’t forget to ask for their permission before you share someone’s contact details in your out of office.

Don’t forget to turn it off

Don’t fall victim to forgetting to switch your out of office off once you’ve returned from annual leave. It will make you and your company look unprofessional if people are receiving responses from you and your autoresponder.

Don’t overload it with details

There is no need to bore your recipients with all the details of where you are, why you’re there or what you’re doing. You have the right to keep your personal life private whether that’s a two-week all-inclusive holiday to Mexico or a family emergency, there’s no need to share it. However, it is a good idea to mention whether you’re out of the office for work or pleasure. If people know you’re away on your holiday then they’ll be less likely to keep hassling you (hopefully).

Don’t drop your colleagues in it

Although best practice is to include contact details for a colleague who could step in while you’re away, you have no idea what their workload will be like at the time. Don’t make any promises in your out of office that they’ll be able to help within a specific time frame!

It’s not exactly challenging writing an out of office but you’d be surprised at how many people manage to make a hash of it! Next time you’re away from your desk it’s definitely worth revisiting your autoresponder and bearing these tips in mind.