While I try my best to make sure that anyone who I may be working with knows I will be out of office anytime I'm out for 8+ hours, I realize that that is a very easily forgotten fact. I've been toying around with the idea of setting my OoO message the day before I leave, to let people know that I will be gone tomorrow and possibly following days. This allows people to ask me any questions they have that may turn into blocking issues while I'm gone.

On the other hand, I realize that people see the out of office message and may assume I'm out of office now, which sends the wrong message.

So, my question really is, is it common to start the out of office auto-reply a few hours before I actually leave so that people can get any last minute questions in?

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    Look at the settings for your mail software. For example, MS Outlook lets you set the OOO message to only be active for a particular time period. If you're taking next Friday off, you can set it today, but not have it become active until close of business next Thursday.
    – alroc
    Oct 8, 2015 at 16:55
  • My phone lets me set the out of office for a specific time too. Oct 8, 2015 at 18:49
  • Adding an OOO warning to your signature a few days ahead or scheduling an appointment ('free' for them) seems like a better approach to me.
    – VBCPP
    Oct 9, 2015 at 3:45
  • Couldn't you set the out-of-office, say, a half-hour before you leave. This could work in your favour - I presume you don't want people coming in with last minute questions literally as you're going at the door for vacation.
    – Brandin
    Oct 9, 2015 at 9:46
  • Ditto for pre-scheduling out of office auto-responses. If your current mail/calendar system doesn't support this basic feature, find a new mail/calendar system. I usually set mine to start at 5pm the day before I will be out of the office, so anyone sending me something after hours that day will understand that I won't be responding for a while.
    – Kent A.
    Oct 30, 2015 at 18:59

6 Answers 6


You shouldn't put it early. Because you intent is give early warning but if your coworker/clients dont write an email they wont get it anyway.

If you want others be aware of your vacation send every one an email.

Ok, maybe that is to drastic.

But at least at the co-workers/clients depending on you.

I usually send an email like this one/two week before my vacations.

Hello Coworker/Client
I will be out of office from Day 1 to Day N during that time please send your inquiries to [email protected]


Another option you can use is a calendar and simply share it with everyone so they'll have it.

As far as the auto-reply, some applications allow you to set the date/time ranges of your message and you can set it on the day you'll be out and it'll automatically turn on/off based on the values you put in it. In the message, also include the time you'll be out. Put something like this:

Hello, I will be out of office starting 10/9/2015 and will return on 10/10/2015. Please contact [email protected] for immediate help.

If you set it an hour before you leave, I don't see how anyone would get it confused.

  • I take this approach and it works well. I have seen few people who forget to turn-off auto-replies (for a few hours) even after they come back.
    – Chethan S.
    Oct 11, 2015 at 3:02
  • Microsoft Office supports the date-range feature for out of office replies.
    – bob
    Feb 23, 2019 at 1:08

Yes, this would be fine. People understand, and It's always better to be on the safe side. You'd much rather "set the tone" before the vacation.

And it's not like you're not answering them. You can even clarify in this OOO email that "I will still be reading emails frequently." Or similar, to explain that point

NOTE : I don't know how your work environment looks, but if you're in one of those very-social open settings; it would be advisable to give people a heads-up about how you'll set the email from now. Otherwise, it may open you up to some unwanted teasing. At least, I know that's how it may happen in some environments. Perhaps, wait til the post-lunch hours of the previous day to your travel-departure. It's not too fun to get "Look who's on vacation already!"

  • I wouldn't say "I will still be reading emails frequently" just to cover a period of putting an OOO message on early as you're then setting an expectation that you'll be checking email while actually on holiday, which may not be what you want to convey. Aug 28, 2020 at 13:50
  • In my company, the standard format for this is: "I am taking day X to day Y off, with intermittent access to cell and email." This formulation lowers the expectation of responses to communications while I'm away. And, typically, I write my OOO statement about an hour before I leave. Aug 28, 2020 at 19:21

Do you have an email footer? Add the info there while you still work, then activate the OoO-message when you leave. Also state the timeframe and if you will be reading mail or not during that time and who to contact otherwise.

  • Welcome to the Workplace -- can you expand on this a little more? It's short and as a result a little unclear on what you are advising.
    – mcknz
    Oct 30, 2015 at 21:47
  • I've had colleagues do this before & thought it was a neat way of flagging it — essentially changing their signature the week before going on holiday to: Joe Bloggs. (Upcoming leave from 1–10 September) — I guess the downside is that you're depending on sending emails for this to take effect (vs OOO where people can see it if they email you). Aug 28, 2020 at 13:54

No people expect out of office message to indicate you are out of office already and not an early warning

best way to go about it is:

1 - In the team meeting if you have weekly/daily monthly team meeting highlight your out of office period

2 - Assign (or let your manager assign) a person to be taking care of your work or any urgent tasks while you are not available

3 - If you are currently working within any Active project(s) make sure you inform (email) the project managers of those project of your out of office period in advance and also share with them who will be the contact person in your place for that period


I've been toying around with the idea of setting my OoO message the day before I leave, to let people know that I will be gone tomorrow and possibly following days

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but you seem to be saying that you're worried that someone might have something they want to talk to about, but they refrain from emailing you before you leave because they think they'll be able to talk to you about it the next day. But if they're not emailing you, then they won't see the OoO message.

If you want to warn people that you will be out of the office, in Outlook you can do so by creating an event called "Sidney is out of office and won't be answering emails", then inviting your colleagues to the event.

But your manager is a better source of information about what sort of norms there are for your team than people on the internet are.

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