Help yourself fight burnout by setting up boundaries at work.

While America's attention has largely been focused on the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, another epidemic has quietly spread across the United States: employee burnout. Surveys have consistently revealed that a growing number of American workers have been experiencing various levels of burnout, thanks to increased hours at work, unresolved stress, and other work-related factors. For many of today's workers, those factors are often exacerbated by an inability to effectively disconnect from their jobs during their off-hours.

In this post, we will explore how the right out of office messages can help you fight burnout by setting boundaries between your work and home life. We will also look at a variety of different out of office messages you can use to create your own work-life boundaries.

An epidemic of burnout

In 2019, the World Health Organization officially recognized unaddressed workplace burnout as a global occupational health concern. By some estimates, workplace stress and overwork contributed to roughly 2.8 million deaths annually even before the Covid-19 pandemic began. Since then, workplace burnout has only increased, to the point where most experts now agree that it is at epidemic levels. In fact, a recent survey by Visier found that 89 percent of respondents confirmed that they have experienced burnout at their jobs within the last twelve months. 

That rising tide of burnout has even impacted remote workers. Prior to the pandemic, surveys suggested that remote work was a benefit that reduced employee burnout levels. As millions of workers were forced to work from home due to the pandemic, however, that perk morphed into a stressor that resulted in a situation in which remote workers now report higher levels of burnout than their on-site peers. 

One thing is certain: burnout has quickly become a serious occupational health threat for workers in nearly every industry in the U.S. Left unaddressed, it can impact mental health, physical wellbeing, and workplace productivity. Worse, its impact can extend far beyond the office, posing serious threats to affected employees' home lives and personal relationships.

The importance of disconnecting from work

One of the biggest factors contributing to employee burnout is the inability to disconnect from work during the off-hours. In this era of instant telecommunication, far too many employees find themselves checking their emails, texts, and other messaging services outside of their regularly defined work hours. Unfortunately, that constant state of connection can prevent your mind and body from relaxing and recovering from the stress of work.

Too many workers simply do not know how to completely disconnect from work. They remain plugged into their jobs when their workday ends, and many even maintain that constant state of interaction during their weekends and vacations. The problem is that humans are not well-suited to that type of constant work connection. We all need time to rest, recover, and recharge. To do that, work emails, texts, and other communications must be deprioritized outside of working hours. 

Commit to disconnecting

The best way to achieve a full disconnection from work is to fully commit to the effort. It is not enough to simply tell yourself that you will avoid work emails after your workweek ends. “Turn off your work computer over the weekend,” resume expert Caitlin Proctor advises, “even if you need to set an out of office message for your co-workers and clients.” According to Proctor, that intentional disconnect from work technology is a vital key to creating a healthy boundary between your work and home life. 

She also advises employees to make effective use of out of office messages to “help you communicate your intention and expectation to not respond to emails on weekends. That can go a long way toward establishing and enforcing healthier work-life boundaries.”

Creating your out of office message

An out of office message, or OOO, is simply an automated email reply that you can set up to respond to anyone who emails you when you are out of the office. This autoresponder message can be used to notify co-workers, clients, and others that you are out of the office and will not be responding until you are back at work. Typically, most of these types of messages include information explaining how long you will be unavailable, when you are expected to return, and contact details if there is someone else they can contact for emergency needs. 

Of course, there are some things that you should not include in an out of office automated reply: 

  • It is generally a good idea to avoid providing too many details in these messages. For example, if you are on vacation, there is no need to explain exactly where you are or what you are doing.

  • Never commit to an immediate response upon your return. You can never be sure how long it will take to sift through missed calls and emails when you do get back into the office.

  • Do not include a coworker's contact information unless they are already expecting to handle these types of matters during your time away. 

Also, it is important to note that many email systems will allow you to create two different types of OOO messages, so that you can provide one response to internal co-workers and supervisors and a separate response to external clients, vendors, and other contacts. 

As you create your out of office message, be sure to include the following information:

  • A brief statement that you are out of the office and unavailable. You may provide some details about your absence (on vacation, away at a conference, etc.), but are under no obligation to do so.

  • If there are online resources that can answer commonly asked questions, be sure to include a link to that site.

  • Provide details about the day you are expected to return to work.

  • If relevant, provide contact information to whoever has been assigned to handle urgent requests.

Out of office messages you can use (examples)

Below are some great examples of out of office messages that you can use to help you properly disconnect from your job and fight potential burnout. 

Basic out of office message for co-workers or clients


Thanks for reaching out to me. Unfortunately, I am currently out of the office and unable to reply until I return to work on [date]. I will be sure to respond to your email as soon as possible.

Best Regards,

[Your Name]

Out of office message with alternate contact information

Hey there,

Thanks for your email. I am currently out of the office [on vacation, at a conference, other reason], and will not be able to reply until I return to work on [date]. If you need immediate assistance, however, please feel free to contact [contact name] at [contact details]. They will be happy to assist you in my absence.


[Your Name]

Automated reply for clients and other external contacts


Thanks for contacting me. I am away from the office until [date], so I will not be able to respond to your request until after I return to work. However, if you are reaching out to ask for commonly requested information, you may be able to find the answer on our company website's FAQ page. You can find that page here: [include link].

Otherwise, I will get back to you as soon as I can once I am back in the office.

Best regards,

[Your Name] 

Automated reply for clients and other external contacts (with alternate contact information)


Thanks for your message. I am away from the office until [date], so I will not be able to respond until after that date. If you are reaching out to ask for any commonly requested information, you may be able to find the answer on  our company website's FAQ page. You can find that page here: [include link].

If you have an urgent request that our site doesn't answer , please contact {Contact name] at [contact email] for assistance.

Otherwise, I will respond to you as soon as I can once I am back in the office.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Parting thoughts on using OOO replies

It is always important to be realistic with your promises. If you know that you are likely to have quite a few messages to reply to when you return to work, do not promise an immediate response. A simple “as soon as possible” is usually sufficient and can help to minimize any unreasonable expectations. That is especially important if you know that you will probably need to spend a few days sifting through emails and dealing with any workload that has piled up while you are gone. 

It is also wise to discuss your out of office message strategy with your supervisor so that they know your plans. That can help to avoid any unpleasant discussions that may arise if someone complains about your inability to quickly respond to their email. Remember, your goal is to reduce stress and minimize the potential for burnout. The best way to do that is to ensure that you are on the same page with your boss. 

Finally, stick to your guns. Trust your autoresponder to take care of any messages and resist the temptation to check your email when you are supposed to be away from work. Ultimately, your clients and co-workers will adjust to these work-life barriers. So, set up your replies and then let them do their job. 


With employee burnout on the rise, it is more important than ever to establish the appropriate boundaries between your job and your personal life. These great out of office messages can help to fight burnout by enabling you to automate your work email replies, ensuring that you can more effectively disconnect from work during your off-hours.

 If you recognize the signs of burnout starting to creep up on you, reach out to one of our resume experts to get your resume in top form for finding a position that you love!

Recommended reading: 

Related Articles: