1. This protocol is for all faculty and staff who from time to time provide automated away (out of office) messages through Microsoft Outlook and other email services.
  2. In general, this protocol calls for faculty and staff to provide simple, professional, and accurate away messages that follow best practices below and that assume that:
    1. The University and School operate 12 months of the year.
    2. An alternative contact must be provided.
  3. In addition to providing an away message when you are traveling or not at your desk, these periods should be reflected on your Outlook calendar, to make scheduling meetings easier and to avoid unnecessary emails.

Best Practices for Away Messages

  1. Provide only as much detail as necessary. Ideally automatic replies should be simple and to the point. Avoid adding any unnecessary information to your message.
  2. Don't assume others aren't responding to inquiries during University down time (summer and winter). Staff work throughout the year, and away messages must therefore provide alternative means of contact.
    1. If in doubt about whom that contact should be, please reach out to the Executive Assistant to the Dean.
  3. Seek a colleague's permission when providing alternative contacts. Don't commit a colleague's assistance without this permission.
  4. Don't promise you will respond as soon as you return. It can take time to catch up on emails, so try not to set the expectation that you can respond immediately upon returning to your desk (see examples below).

Examples of Away Messages

Copy and paste one the following, changing your message to suit:

Thank you for your message. I will be away from my desk between [departure date] and [return date], with limited access to email. If you require immediate assistance, please contact [person or office] at ottotheorange@syr.edu or 315.123.4567.

Thank you for your email. I will be on vacation from [departure date] to [return date], and I will respond to your email as soon as possible when I return. For urgent matters, please reach out to  [person or office] at ottotheorange@syr.edu or 315.123.4567. For application queries, contact our Academic and Student Services Offices at 315.443.9319.

I appreciate you contacting me. I am currently away on academic leave, returning on [date]. I will check my email periodically during this time. If your inquiry requires immediate response, please contact [person or office] at ottotheorange@syr.edu or 315.123.4567.

Thank you for your message. I am currently away from my desk at a [conference, retreat, etc.] in [place], with limited email access. I will be returning on [date]. In the meantime, for general inquiries, please contact  [person or office] at ottotheorange@syr.edu or 315.123.4567. If this is an urgent matter, you may contact my cell phone at [number].

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