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Write Your Sick-Out-Of-Office Message Like a Pro – with Examples and Tips

Have you ever wondered why setting up a sick out-of-office message is more than just a courtesy? Discover how this simple message can be a game-changer for you and your team, and learn how to communicate like a pro.
by Chris Allmer | Nov 7 2023

Let’s set the tone: Rebecca had just started her new remote job. Like many of us, she was determined to make that first impression count. However, life happened, and she found herself feeling under the weather, and in her weakened state, she forgot to set her sick out-of-office message.

This oversight led not only to a string of unanswered emails but also to a significant delay in a crucial project. And to make matters worse, an already-unwell Rebecca had to confront HR and management to strategize a more effective approach for the future. 

At Blinkist, we want to make sure you don’t ever get into this kind of situation. That’s why we’ve curated all the essential insights to understand the importance of the “sick out-of-office message” in today’s rapid-response work culture.

Why are Sick Out-Of-Office Messages Important?

There are a number of reasons why this small out-of-office message can have a big impact on your team:

  1. Respecting Time: You know that feeling when you are eagerly awaiting an email response, but it never comes? Yeah, leaving a brief sick leave notification not only shows respect for someone else’s time but also sets an expectation for when they might hear back.
  2. Workflow optimization: Without prior notice, your team might be left in limbo, uncertain about the next move in the big project you are all working on. A brief OOO message can help with the reorganization and the search for support. 
  3. Prioritizing Health: Putting your health first sends a clear message to both yourself and your organization about the importance of well-being. Trust me, your colleagues will appreciate not having another contagious person in the mix.
  4. Being Genuine: No one’s at their best when they’re ill. And most of your colleagues might just take the day off when they really need it, unless it is the 24th of August. According to a new study, this day is the ‘sickest’ of the year. And the reason not to come to work? A stomach bug.

So, the next time you’re not quite feeling yourself, give yourself permission to rest. Activate that out-of-office notification and take the time you need. It benefits both you and those you work alongside.

How to Call in Sick for Mental Health Reasons

Calling in sick because of your mental health is an important aspect of self-care. Sometimes it’s not just a ‘stomach bug’. Sometimes, you don’t feel great, and you lack motivation, and that’s ok. 

Just as you would take a sick day for a physical illness, it’s essential to prioritize your mental well-being when needed. And you are not required to share why you are sick, for valid reasons:

  • Privacy: Maintaining personal boundaries and keeping sensitive matters private is also important for your mental health.
  • Stigma: The persistent stigma around mental health issues can lead to fear of judgment or discrimination.
  • Professionalism: Some people prefer to keep their personal and work lives separate to show off their expertise.

And if you’re interested in prioritizing your mental health, consider exploring the Blinkist Guide titled “Manage Your Mental Health at Work” by Nora Dietrich. Nora is a psychotherapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy and is a strong advocate for workplace mental health.

In this Guide, Dietrich gives you tips and tricks to help you take control of your mental health at work. You’ll discover how to strike a balance by learning to say “no” when necessary, effectively communicate your emotions, and learn the significance of taking regular breaks to recharge.


6 Tips for Writing Your Sick Out-of-Office Message

We understand that sometimes you might get hit by an unexpected physical or mental illness without any warning. That’s why we’re here to make it easy for you to set up a professional sick leave message in no time. You can even create it now and just copy and paste it whenever you need it:

  1. Be Clear: Your out-of-office message’s main job is to let others know you’re not available. Start with a simple and clear message that says you’re away due to illness.
  2. Return Date: Tell them when you’ll be back in the office. This gives your colleagues a clear idea of how long you’ll be gone.
  3. Alternative Contact: Share the name and contact info of a coworker or boss who can help while you’re away. Make sure they know they might need to step in for urgent matters.
  4. Personal Touch: You don’t have to spill all the details about your illness, but a polite mention of being out for health reasons can make your message more human.
  5. Availability: If you plan to check emails or voicemails during your sick leave, mention when and how often you’ll do that.
  6. Say Thanks: End your message by thanking the person for their understanding and reminding them of your return date. This helps avoid any confusion.

Remember, the key to a good sick out-of-office message is giving the necessary info while staying professional and respecting your privacy. When you include these points, you make sure everyone knows you’re away, things are in good hands, and your return goes smoothly.

5 Examples of Your Sick-Out-Of-Office Message

When it comes to setting up your sick-out-of-office message, one size doesn’t fit all. Depending on the circumstances, your message may need to convey different information. Here are five sample OOO messages tailored to various scenarios:

Example 1: Standard Sick Leave

I am currently out of the office due to illness and will not be able to respond until [insert your return date]. If you require immediate assistance, please contact [colleague’s name] at [colleague’s email] or [colleague’s phone number].

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Pro-Tip: Check with your colleagues to see if it’s okay to give out their numbers.

Example 2: Available with Delays

I am currently on sick leave due to a medical condition. I will not be available until [insert your return date]. During my absence, I will be checking emails periodically, so please feel free to reach out, and I will respond as soon as I can. For urgent matters, please contact [colleague’s name] at [colleague’s email] or [colleague’s phone number].

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Example 3: More Personal Touch

Unfortunately, I am unwell and will be out of the office until [insert your return date]. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please know that your message is important to me, and I will attend to it as soon as I am able. In the meantime, for immediate assistance, kindly reach out to [colleague’s name] at [colleague’s email] or [colleague’s phone number].

Thank you for your understanding.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

Example 4: Emergency Contact

I’m currently on sick leave due to unexpected health issues and will not be available until [insert your return date]. If you have an urgent matter that requires immediate attention, please contact [emergency contact name] at [emergency contact email] or [emergency contact phone number].

Thank you for your patience during this time.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Example 5: Professional

I am currently out of the office due to illness and will not be available until [insert your return date]. For any work-related inquiries during my absence, please contact [colleague’s name] at [colleague’s email] or [colleague’s phone number]. Your message is important to us, and we appreciate your understanding.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Feel free to choose the template that best suits your situation, and you’ll have an appropriate and professional sick-out-of-office message ready to go.

Out-of-office notifications are not just important when you are on sick leave; there are many reasons, like conferences or vacations, to set up the autoresponder or even a wellness OOO email. The article “How to Write the Perfect Out-Of-Office Message” in Blinkist Magazine walks you through crafting the perfect out-of-office response, making sure your absence won’t result in confusion or miscommunication and helping you with your ‘taking sick days’-etiquette.

Crafting the perfect OOO message is a skill that can keep you connected with colleagues and clients, even when you’re not physically present. Remember, your sick-out-of-office response speaks volumes about your professionalism and consideration.

And to further sharpen your communication skills and stay ahead in your professional journey, why not try Blinkist? With our free 7-day trial, you can get access to the key ideas of over 6,500 books about topics like leadership, productivity, or motivation for you to read or listen to.

Start your free 7-day trial

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