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Out Of Office Business Trip – Travelling for Business

Out of Office While Travelling for Business Examples

Going out of the office on a business trip is common for many professionals. Being on the road means you’ll be travelling for business, away from your usual work responsibilities and unable to respond as quickly to emails and calls. Setting up an out-of-office message is important to let people know you’re away and provide alternative contacts if needed.

In this article, we’ll look at some examples and best practices for writing effective out-of-office messages when travelling for work.

Why You Need an Out-of-Office Message

There are several important reasons to use an out-of-office message when travelling for business:

  • Let contacts know you’re unavailable – An out-of-office message immediately informs anyone emailing or calling that you’re not available. This sets proper expectations that you may not respond as quickly as usual.
  • Provides alternative contacts – Your message can direct people to a colleague or assistant who can help while you’re away. This ensures important queries don’t go unanswered in your absence.
  • Reduces overwhelming email build-up – Coming back from travel to an overflowing inbox is never ideal. A message reduces unnecessary emails by informing senders you’re not available to read them.
  • Conveys professionalism – Setting up an out-of-office shows colleagues and clients you’re organised and have consideration for people trying to reach you while travelling.
  • Gives expected timeframes – You can provide details on when you’ll be back and able to respond. This gives people an idea of when to follow up if needed.

Key Elements of an Effective Out-of-Office Message

To craft a useful out-of-office message while travelling, there are a few key elements to include:

  • Dates you’ll be out of office – State the exact dates you’ll be unavailable and out of regular contact. This gives recipients a clear understanding of your timeframe.
  • Overview of travel plans – Give a brief explanation for your absence – i.e. attending industry conferences, on a business trip, etc. Don’t provide too many personal details though.
  • Alternative contacts – Provide names, emails and phone numbers for colleagues who can assist while you’re travelling. Make sure they’re prepared to handle any calls or emails.
  • Expected response timeline – Let people know when they can expect a response from you once you’re back – i.e. within 24 hours of returning to the office.
  • Encourage urgent issues to go elsewhere – Suggest any truly urgent messages get redirected to a colleague to handle in your absence. You don’t want pressing issues waiting for your return.
  • Mobile phone contact (if applicable) – Optionally include your mobile number as an alternative way to reach you if critical. But only if you plan to check messages while away.
  • Thank them for understanding – Closing with a simple “Thanks for your patience while I’m away” sets a nice tone.

Professional Out-of-Office Examples

Here are some example out-of-office messages for different business travel scenarios:

Attending Conferences

I will be out of the office from [start date] to [end date] attending [conference name/event] in [location]. I will have limited access to email and calls during this time. For any urgent requests, please contact [name and contact info] who will be covering for me. I will respond to all other messages upon my return to the office on [date]. Thanks for your understanding, and I look forward to being back in touch soon.

This conveys your attendance at a specific event and lack of full availability while travelling there. It provides an alternative contact and expected response timeframe.

International Business Trip

Thank you for your email. I will be travelling to our [location] office for client meetings from [start date] through [end date]. Due to the time difference and limited connectivity, my response times may be slower than usual. For anything urgent during this period, please reach out to [name] at [email]. I will respond to all emails when I am back in the office on [return date].

This indicates your general unavailability while travelling internationally. It asks for urgent issues to go to a colleague directly.

Multi-City Domestic Travel

I will be travelling to our [city 1] and [city 2] offices for internal meetings from [start date] until [end date] and will have periodic access to email during that time. Should anything urgent come up, please contact [name] at [email] for assistance. I will follow up on any outstanding items when I return to the [city] office on [return date].

Thank you for your patience while I’m away.

This covers potentially limited availability while travelling domestically. It provides an alternate contact and return date.

Extended Business Trip

Hello,

I will be travelling for several weeks throughout [month] visiting our regional offices across [region]. My access to email will be infrequent during this extended absence. For any time-sensitive requests, please contact my assistant [name] at [email]. I will respond to any outstanding emails upon my return to the [city] headquarters on [date].

Thank you for understanding!

Making clear an extended multi-week trip means responses will be significantly delayed or handed off to others.

Handling Emails Upon Return

Handling Emails Upon Return

Once you’re back from your travels, there are some best practices for catching up on emails:

  • Change voicemail and email messages to indicate you’re back and resuming normal availability.
  • Scan your inbox and highlight any urgent or time-sensitive messages to handle first. Follow up on those ASAP.
  • Categorise remaining emails into actionable tasks versus FYI information. This helps prioritise what needs immediate response.
  • Schedule time to respond to emails systematically. Be realistic – don’t overburden your first day back!
  • Reply to colleagues who covered requests for you first. Exchange information from your absence.
  • If replying to a significantly delayed email, acknowledge the slow response and apologise for the inconvenience.
  • Summarise any major developments if many emails relate to the same matter, for clarity.
  • Redirect non-urgent emails to others if appropriate. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
  • Create a task list and calendar reminders to follow up on outstanding actions needing your input. Don’t let tasks slip through the cracks.

Customising Your Out-of-Office Message

While there are common elements to include in any out-of-office message, it’s also important to customise the message to fit your specific situation.

Travel Duration

If you’ll be gone just a couple of days, keep it brief. For extended trips of over a week, provide more details and alternative contacts.

Type of Travel

If attending events, list the specific conference or meeting. For multi-country trips, note cities and relevant time zones.

Accessibility

If completely unreachable, say so. If you plan to check email periodically, note that availability may be delayed. Set proper expectations.

Company Size

In large organisations, redirect to a team or department. For small companies, name specific individuals covering.

Addressing Contacts

Use a general greeting like “Hello” if responding to external clients. Use first names if writing to internal colleagues.

Tone

Keep it professional but friendly if addressing external contacts. Can be more informal when writing to colleagues.

Unique Situations

Some special cases need additional thought when writing out-of-office messages:

Planned Vacation

For a planned vacation, don’t share many personal details. Keep the message focused on contacts and coverage.

Unexpected Personal Leave

Don’t provide specifics if taking unexpected personal leave. Use discretion and keep the message straightforward.

Calling In Sick

No need to list symptoms! Simply say you’re out sick or ill and when you expect to be back.

Jury Duty

Mention fulfilling a civic duty, without details. Focus on expected return date and alternative contacts.

The key is shaping the message to your particular scenario while following standard best practices.

Further Actions Upon Your Return

Once back from travel, apart from the actions above, you should also follow up with key stakeholders:

  • Email the team members who covered for you with a thank you and update on any deliverables or open items. Offer to meet 1:1 to exchange information if helpful.
  • For important clients or external stakeholders, send a quick note that you’re back and looking forward to reconnecting. Briefly recap any key points from your travels relevant to them.
  • Connect with your manager and fill them in on your trip – key takeaways, problems that arose, and areas you need support. Offer to provide a formal debrief.
  • Look at your calendar and make sure you’ve rescheduled any meetings that were cancelled or postponed.

Following up demonstrates you’re engaged, appreciative and ready to resume normal work duties.

Avoiding Travel Burnout

Frequent business travel can lead to burnout over time. Some tips to maintain work-life balance:

  • Strategically group trips together when possible to maximise time in the office between travels.
  • Schedule buffer days between trips and workdays to catch up on sleep and personal tasks.
  • Build in some extra personal vacation days post-travel for recovery.
  • Set boundaries on availability for non-urgent work matters in off hours and weekends when travelling. Stick to normal work hours when possible.
  • Adjust your road warrior schedule as needed if you find yourself becoming exhausted and overwhelmed by travel. Ask for help prioritising trips if required.

With some thoughtful planning, you can craft excellent out-of-office messages for business travel and minimise disruption to your colleagues, clients and you!

Tools to Automate Out-of-Office Messages

While you can manually set up out-of-office messages in your email client before travelling, there are also some handy tools to help automate the process:

Email Signatures

Many email signature tools like WiseStamp allow you to create pre-set out-of-office autoresponders that activate based on custom dates. This automatically sends your message.

Email Management Platforms

Solutions like Yesware, Hubspot and Outreach help you schedule and send automatic out-of-office emails to select contacts. Useful for sales teams.

Mobile Apps

Apps like Google Calendar, TripIt and OutOfOffice automatically set your out-of-office by syncing with your calendar. Just add your travel dates.

Team Collaboration Tools

Tools like Slack, Teams and Discord allow creating out-of-office notifications for team members seeing your status change while travelling.

Email Plugins

Browser extensions like Boomerang and Mixmax enable one-click out-of-office messages that activate based on calendar dates.

Productivity Suites

All-in-one tools like ActiveCollab, Scoro and Hive allow setting custom out-of-office alerts.

The benefit of using tools like these is saving the manual effort of remembering to toggle your out-of-office on and off. Just set the dates and the technology handles the rest!

Out-of-Office Etiquette

When using your out-of-office message, keep these simple etiquette practices in mind:

  • Provide colleagues coverage in advance if possible, rather than just in your auto-reply. Don’t catch them off guard!
  • Set and remove messages promptly. Don’t have inactive messages sitting in your inbox confusing recipients.
  • Use judgment on sending out-of-office replies to listservs, social media auto-DMs, or mailing lists. This could notify many unintended people!
  • Consider tailored messages for key contacts and generic versions for all others.
  • If messages will be sent externally, double-check grammar, spelling, branding, etc.
  • When back in the office, respond and follow up promptly rather than just turning off your message.
  • Avoid TMI (Too Much Information) – keep the focus on logistics rather than personal details in professional messages.

Following basic etiquette helps ensure your messages are thoughtful and effective!

Key Takeaways

  • Craft unique out-of-office messages tailored to your specific travel situation and company
  • Leverage tools to auto-activate messages based on your calendar, reducing manual work
  • Upon returning, follow up with key stakeholders and reschedule any postponed meetings
  • Use etiquette like giving internal notice, prompt activation/deactivation and avoiding TMI
  • Set boundaries to avoid burnout when you have frequent business travel

With preparation and forethought, you can set professional out-of-office messages while travelling for business. This ensures minimal disruption to your colleagues and clients. It also makes returning to work smoother.

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