The Art of the Out-of-Office Reply

Illustration by Tom Bloom

Excerpt from this article which I particularly enjoyed as I’ve seen some memorable OOO messages during my years at Ogilvy:

While most vacationing email recipients keep it simple (listing the contact information of their next-in-command and making a vague promise to get back to you by a certain date), some cannot resist the opportunity to inject a bit of their personality into their correspondents’ inboxes in absentia.

Some use the moment as an opportunity to tacitly brag about their importance: It takes three people to cover for me! Here are their email addresses. (Of course, when you write to those people, especially in August, you may then get their out-of-offices.)

There are poetic out-of-offices and humorous (or supposedly humorous) out-of-offices. There are out-of-offices that boast or complain about the person’s likely whereabouts (Bali! Jury duty.).

There are autobiographical mini-essays. And increasingly, there are frank admissions that the person on the other end of the email is actually available in some way, just less likely than usual to respond to you.

Now that everyone can see that you are still posting to Twitter from your silent retreat to an ashram, an out-of-office only means plausible deniability.