Out of Office Etiquette

Spring break is here for most of us and summer vacation is fast approaching.  So I thought this would be a great opportunity to talk about Out of Office notifications.

As virtual assistants, we are fortunate in that we can be flexible with are schedules.  However, we still need to be responsible business owners and inform our clients when we will be unavailable for a length of time.  This is just good business etiquette.  No one wants to feel ignored and that includes our clients.  So when you know you will be taking a vacation or going out of town for a long weekend, have the courtesy to create an Out of Office reply/notification within your email system. 

For your convenience, I have listed the steps below to create an Out of Office notification for Outlook and for Gmail.

Outlook 2007

  • Start a new email message
  • Type the “Subject” and create a message for your out of office reply
    • Make sure to include some sort of indication as to when the person emailing you can expect to receive an actual response back.
  • Next, click on the “Office” button, click the “Save As” option and choose the “Outlook Template” option under the “Save As Type:”
  • Then click “Save”
  • Next, select “Tools/Rules and Alerts” from main window
  • Click “New Rule” and select the “Start from a Blank Rule” option
  • Select “Check Messages When They Arrive”
  • Then click “Next”
  • Under “Step 1: Select Condition”, click “Where My Name is in the ‘To’ Box”
    • As a suggestion, you may want to leave all other boxes unchecked to the out of office reply will alert all incoming email
  • Then click “Next”
  • Under “Step 1: Select Action”, click “Reply Using A Specific Template”
  • Under “Step 2: Edit the Rule Description”, click “Specific Template” (it should be underlined)
  • Under “Look In”, select “User Templates In File System”, highlight the template you just created and click “Open”
  • Then click “Next”
  • Under “Step 1: Select Exception”, click on “Except if it is an Out of Office Message”
  • Then click “Next”
  • Finally, under “Specify a Name for this Rule” type in a particular name for this rule, click “Finish” and click “OK”


  • Click on “Settings” at the top right corner of your screen
  • Scroll down to middle of page to find “Vacation Responder” and click “Vacation Responder On”
  • Next, choose the dates you want the responder to start and stop
  • Then, type a message in the “Subject” and create your “Message”
  • Then click “Save Changes”

Now, relax and enjoy your well-deserved time off!

2 thoughts on “Out of Office Etiquette

  1. Kena Roth

    What a great reminder! Thanks so much for posting this, as I’m headed out on Friday -Monday for a long weekend with my family. Off to set-up my Out of Office notice – Kena!

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