13 March 2008

When Your Boss is "Out of Office": E-mail and Voicemail

My boss occasionally asks me to change her out of office message for her on her e-mail account as she is rushing out the door on a business trip or on vacation. Another assistant’s boss asks her to change his voicemail message when he is out of the office.

E-mail Out of Office

When you are asked to write an out-of-office message for your boss you need to ask them a few questions:

1. Will they be checking their e-mail account regularly, occasionally or not at all?

2. Do they want you to direct their e-mail to you or to a colleague? Most likely they will want them directed to you and you can either refer them to the appropriate person or help them yourself.

3. What dates will they be away and when will they be returning to the office?

A suggested Out-of-Office e-mail message:

Thank you for your e-mail. I will be out of the office commencing [date] and will be returning to the office on [date]. I will only be able to check my messages occasionally. If your matter is urgent, please contact my assistant Jane Brown at [phone number], [e-mail address] and she will be able to assist you.

Voicemail Out of Office

If you are asked to compose a voicemail message in your boss’s absence you need to ask similar questions as listed above. A good suggestion would be to write the message down and read it before you record the message to avoid stops and starts.

A suggested Out-of-Office voicemail message:

You have reached the voice mailbox of John Smith (or Mr. Smith depending on how formal your office is). John will be out of the office commencing [date] and will be back in the office on [date]. He will only be checking messages occasionally, therefore, if you need assistance, please press 0 and ask to speak to his assistant Jane Brown.

With voicemail I think it is better to give the day and date of the absence, i.e. “Friday, June 13th and will be back in the office on Wednesday, June 18th”. When I listen to someone’s voicemail and people include the day it helps me if I don’t have a calendar in front of me.

If your boss is away because of an illness you will want to protect his or her privacy and not give out any of their confidential medical condition to callers, but be very general in your voicemail message.

Out of office for someone who is no longer with the company

I was on an interactive admin assistant forum and someone wanted to know how to compose an out of office message for someone who was retiring and they were looking for suggestions on what to write. I suggested the following:

On [insert date], [name of colleague] retired after [insert years of service] years of service. We wish [her/him] all the best. If you need assistance, [insert name] would be happy to help you, as we want to continue offering you the very best service. You can reach [name] at [email address and phone number].

There are a number of reasons people are no longer with a company. In the majority of cases I would think it would be the HR manager's job to compose an appropriate message for this type of out of office message.


Anonymous said...

Great tips. I never thought of adding the day to the date "Friday, March 12th" as an example. This does help if you don't have a calendar in front of you.

The only thing that bothers me is when people ask me to do an out-of-office voice mail message for them and they tell me that they will be gone from Monday to Wednesday, but no dates are given.


Richard Rinyai

Unknown said...

What/How do I record a voicemail greeting for my boss whose calls are forwarded to my voicemail? Do I say Hello, You have reached (my name), the office of (His title, Chief Office of XYZ)...

Patricia Robb said...

i would use your vm and say You have reached the voicemail box of [your name], Assistant to [insert name of boss] etc