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How to Create an Out of Office Reply

How to Create an Out of Office Reply

So you just landed your first ever job fresh out of college, huh? Well, then you must be new to various office applications including the intranet mail application. In case you're wondering how to create an out of office reply to put on your office mail server, read right ahead!
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Setting an 'out of office' message under your official mail ID when going on a planned leave is the 'done' thing, and is a necessary part of professional workplace etiquette. It becomes especially imperative when your standard set of duties include sending mails to, and replying to mails from, various professional associates, be it clients, management or any other vertical or lateral process of your organization. That being said, the most popular office email applications as of today happen to be products of two very well reckoned names in the field of software development and technology consultation - Microsoft's Outlook and IBM's Lotus Notes. Although both these products were developed for personal information management (Outlook) and to serve as an internal desktop client for setting schedule, tasks and accessing business emails (Lotus Notes), the mailing and email access feature is the most used one in both applications. Now, assuming you're wondering how to create an out of office reply on a mail server that uses either of these two office email applications, here's a step-by-step guide laid for both Outlook and Lotus Notes respectively.

Creating an Out of Office Reply in Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is a very user-friendly email application, and most task options are very easily accessible on it. The same principle applies when it comes to setting an out of office auto reply in Outlook. Here's what you need to do:-
  • Launch Microsoft Outlook on your desktop and go to File menu;
  • Select the Automatic Replies option on the File menu;
  • Once the Out of Office Assistant dialog box appears, check the blank box against Send Automatic replies and set the time duration of your leave by selecting Only send during this time range option and setting Start time and End time that appears thereafter. The start time would be the first day of your leave period and the end time will be the day you'll return and resume your duties;
  • After you've set the time period, you'll come across the Inside my organization and Outside my organization tabs with spaces for typing in the text of the automatic reply message. You can either fill in the same text or something different in each text field, depending upon what you wish to convey to contacts inside and outside your organization. The contents of such a message may include contact details of a colleague or your superior who may be contacted in your absence and, hence, most of the time, the contents of both text fields differ in this regard;
  • Select the Apply option to save the settings you just made and activate the Out of office function on Outlook.
Note: The above instructions and guidelines are meant for Outlook 2010 and these steps are somewhat different from the steps of setting an Out of office reply on Outlook 2007 and older versions.

Out of Office Reply for Lotus Notes

Although considered by first time users as bulky and complicated, Lotus Notes has its own set of positive attributes that make it an equally popular business email access application. For instance, its archiving, scheduling and task management abilities are wider and more systematic than Outlook (well, I've used both and that's my opinion). Here's what you need to do to set an out of office reply in Lotus Notes:-
  • Go to the Actions on the menu bar, select Tools on drop down menu. Select the Out of office option on the drop down menu that appears when you select Tools;
  • Set the time duration on the dialog box by selecting the start date and the end date on the calendars that open up. Be careful to select the correct date, making sure you are on the correct month and year page of the calendar;
  • Once you've set the date, you would be required to type your message in the text field. You can either go with default message or create a different, more detailed one. You can also add exceptions to your out-of-office reply, specifying which contacts would NOT receive the auto reply. For this, you need to access the Exceptions option that comes next.
  • Click on Enable once you're done with the above steps and click Ok on the next dialog box appears after you click Enable.
So, you see, setting an out of office reply isn't such a huge task after all. On the other hand, setting one before you go on a leave shows the responsible and professional side of you. Also, in situations where you need to get back to clients or laterals, it is always better to leave information regarding whom to contact for queries in your absence.