Creating the right "Out Of Office" message is an important step towards a successful maternity leave. This message creates a personal boundary where you tell everyone you will be unavailable during your leave and who they can contact during your absence. Setting up this messages ahead of time makes you feel like your co-workers and clients will be taken care of while you're away.
Why This "Out of Office" Message Is Important
You know how it feels to get a phone call from work while on vacation. You feel compelled to help or work, right? This time away from the office is private and very special. Creating this message will protect you from work interruptions.
The reason why you don't want to be interrupted is because you, and your family, are welcoming another family member into the world and into your family. This time of bonding will be filled with sleepless nights, an unpredictable schedule, hormone fluctuations, doctor appointments for both you and the baby, visitors, and who knows what else. Also there will be a good amount of change within you and everyone around you that you'll want to manage.
This is a time in your life where setting boundaries is a must. To help put your work life on hold for awhile set a new priority that your newborn and everything that comes with it comes first. When you create the right out of office message your clients, co-workers, and anyone else attempting to reach you understands what your new priority is and hopefully won't cross your new personal boundary.
So how do you create a awesome "do not disturb" message to help protect such a special time?
Create Your "Out of Office" Message Way Ahead of Time
When you are around 26 weeks pregnant (or six months) create your "Out of Office" message. If given the option to save a title for this message title it "Maternity Leave".
When create this message ahead of time you will save everyone including yourself time and energy. You may need to leave the office unexpectedly (you know, to go deliver your baby) so having the message already created gives your IT admin or your manager a prepared message to enable.
Most importantly, preparing the message ahead of time gives you control over what your message will say. Do you want IT or your manager setting the tone of this message? Heck no! You are the one that knows your job and your plan such as who will be taking over responsibilities, when you may be back to the office, and other details.
Once you create your "Out of Office" message let your manager know. They'll love to hear that you're prepared for your exit and there's one less thing they'll need to do to support you.
What Needs to Be Included in Your "Out of Office" Message
Below is a sample "Out of Office" message you can use. This Out of Office message, once enabled in your email software, will automatically respond to any email sent to you.
It is up to you if you'd like to inform recipients where you are. You could simply say you are "out of the office" or you can inform them that you are on your maternity leave. If you prefer not to inform everyone that you're on maternity leave, simply delete the three words "for maternity leave". You can use a variant of this email message for extended vacations or business trips.
Where you see (parentheses), insert the appropriate words or phrases for your circumstances.
Thank you for your email. I am out of the office for maternity leave until (date you expect to return from maternity leave).
If you need assistance before my return please contact (name of colleague covering for you, with contact details).
(If you have certain projects you cover list project name and the person covering you).
If your matter is not urgent I'll return your email within a week of my return.
Best, (Your name)
Edited by Elizabeth McGrory.