I’m not in. If I’m back before my return…

I'm sure you've heard or read the saying "I'm not here. When I get back before my return, please tell me to wait for me." It's usually printed on colorful, funny postcards, which you like to give or show to someone in case you don't want to be disturbed.

So this simple saying directly represents a "note of absence" - what a name for short, concentrated snippet. Also known as Out-of-Office Message - at least here the abbreviation is simpler (OoO).

But is the absence note really as trivial as it sometimes sounds? For me the creation of such a note is rather highly complex. After all, you want to briefly tell someone that you're unavailable at the moment, that you can't reply to the matter, but that you will take care of it upon your return, and that you can possibly give a contact who might be able to take care of it immediately. If you now refer good email marketing practice, your hair will stand on end. At least 3 important information, if not even 4 should be accommodated in a 2-line. And even are, see the following samples:

Why are such small snippets treated so criminally? Probably because they are not seen as part of the overall marketing mix and strategy. Every communication should be attractive, active, friendly, binding and based on the company codex. In some of the following examples, however, one could question which company the sender belongs to. Or worse, which image the company aims to transport internally and externally - if taken the criteria mentioned above.


Are those copies appealing to you? Sure some samples make me smile - but not really laughing. It's rather a shame that these snippets receives so little attention from the sender and that the recipient has to read them. If I will got such an email without having contacted the sender before, I mark it as spam. Enough nagging - what can you do?

The following ideas are mainly addressing German out of office messages. However, if those might also be relevant for English OoO, maybe even partially - fine with me. 

First of all, it is important to define exactly what the main message is - probably that the customer's request cannot be replied to immediately (believe me - it's not about you being out of the office). Is there an interim solution except that the mail is not forwarded.

So it could be something like this:

Good day to you and thank you very much for your message.

I am not in the office at the moment, but I will answer your request as soon as I return.

Wishing you a good time.

Best regards


Hello and thank you very much for your message.

I am currently not in the office, but will answer your request immediately after my return (*possibly with the note: at DD.MM.YY). If your matter is urgent, please contact XYZ (email).

Thank you very much for your understanding.

Best regards


Thank you very much for your message.

Too bad you can't get hold of me. I will be happy to answer your questions after my return. If your matter is urgent, please contact XYZ (Email). 

I am looking forward to your email.

With best regards


*Consider carefully whether you want to include personal data in the absence note. This may violate the DSVO or at least company guidelines. In addition, is it adding value to tell that you are still on holiday or business trip for 2 days?

Maybe you are someone who takes several short vacation instead of a long one, the question can pop-up, how much vacation you have. Or how often you are on business trip instead of being in the office and why you don't check your email remotely.

Is the out of office note really business critical? Probably not directly, but subconsciously it contributes to the corporate image. Besides, why shouldn't this communication being friendly and polite, or even funny. 

April 4th, 2019 by