Is Your “Out of Office” On More Than It’s Off?

I always laugh after I send out my Pearls of Travel Wisdom newsletter every two weeks. Why? Because I get numerous “Out of Office” emails from on-the-road business travelers. When I read the emails, I feel a sense of companionship with my fellow road warriors. And I wonder about some who are always out of the office. Do they ever have their “Out of Office” turned off?

Here’s a few that I received today:

Dear Colleagues,
I will be out of the office on business travel from Sun. Jan. 16th returning on Sat. Jan. 22nd.

* * * *

I will be out of the office January 19 – 21, I will return emails beginning January 22nd. Should you have an urgent issue…

* * * *

I am traveling in Africa with limited email access until Jan 18th.

I will respond to your message when I return.

* * * *

I am traveling through Monday, Jan. 24, and will have limited access to email and cell service. I will return your message when I get back to the office on Tuesday.

* * * *

Thank you for your email. I am on client site Monday, January 17th thru Thursday, January 20th. I will respond to emails during breaks and in the evenings.

* * * *

Is your “Out of Office” on more than it’s off? Personally, since I am almost always out of the office (since my office is in my home and I’m only there 25% of the year), I don’t use an “Out of Office” email unless I’m going to be unaccessible for more than 36 hours. Usually most emails can wait a day before being returned and I’m able to do this while in my hotel room in the evenings.

Just thinking about how seldom I’m not on the road, I think I’ll start putting an “In Office” auto-response when I’m actually in the office.

“Believe it or not, I’m actually in my home office today. It may take a day or two to respond, as I’m busy getting to know my own home again. And I’m trying to figure out how to use my laptop without a hotel desk to sit at.”

How about you? Is your “Out of Office” on more than it’s off? And what would your message be if you could really say what you wanted?

P.S. If you’d like to receive our bi-weekly Pearls of Travel Wisdom newsletter, with travel tips, resources and stories from fellow travelers AND a totally free ebook, 70 Secrets to Safe Travel, go to Smart Women Travelers and provide your email address.  I can then start receiving your “Out of Office” emails too!!!


  1. I warn my clients that my Out of Office is usually on.

    I try to turn it off and back on nightly otherwise clients forget they got one on a previous day and wonder why I don’t respond immediately.

    …i also tell them not to bother with voicemail.

  2. I have different “out of office” messages (or lack of) for different people.

    I also have some email addresses I never apply an out of office message to.

    While having a date indication is helpful to sender, one challenge is when plans change while away extending the period. It can be annoying to some to get a message “away from x to y”, follow up after y to get a new message “away from x to z”.

  3. If you are a true ‘road warrior’ then you really shouldn’t be using out-of-office messages because the road IS your office. You should reserve out-of-office message for times when you are traveling to destinations where you know access to wi-fi may be unreliable, or you are about to embark on a long haul intercontinental flight where you may be in the air for 15-16 hours (and probably in no fit state to be checking emails at the end of it!)

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