How to Create an Out-of-Office Coverage Plan [Step-by-Step]

Taking some time off? Use this out-of-office coverage plan (w/ templates) to organize your work and get the coverage you need for a stress-free vacation.
Matthew Ritchie
July 14, 2023
9 minute read

Summer is here, and that means the return of summer vacations 🏖️

Despite the rising cost of living, 87% of Americans are expected to travel as much, if not more, in 2023.

If you’re one of them, you want your time away to be relaxing.

That’s where an out-of-office coverage plan comes in. 

According to Monster, 87% of employees feel increased levels of stress after taking personal time off, and 61% spend longer hours trying to catch up on work once they’re back.

Having an OOO plan can prevent that. It limits the chances of co-workers bothering you during your break, helps ensure tasks get done in your absence, and, if all goes according to plan, decreases the likelihood of a massive pile of work greeting you upon your return.

Don’t know what should be included in an out-of-office plan? Use this out-of-office coverage plan template to organize your work and coverage pre-vacation.

How to Create an Out-of-Office Coverage Plan

Step 1: Notify Your Colleagues

Your vacation time has been approved, your accommodations are booked, and you’re one step closer to relaxing on a beach or traveling to some far-flung location.

First up, give your colleagues a heads-up. 

Letting your teammates know you plan to take time off can help them mentally prepare for any responsibilities they may need to take on in your absence and adjust their schedules accordingly. 

Try letting them know a couple of weeks in advance (worst-case scenario, a few days' warning should suffice), but the sooner you let them know, the better. 

Step 2: Start Writing Your Coverage Plan 

Your coverage plan should include a status update on everything you’re working on, day-to-day responsibilities that need to be delegated, project due dates that will come up in your absence, teammates that will be covering for you, as well as basic information, like the days you’ll be away, emergency contact information, and who’s on-point if things go awry.

Think of it like a general overview of everything you do each day, what you need help getting done during your time away from the office, and the people responsible for it.

Look at your to-do list for help figuring out what to include. And, if you use a project management tool to track the more complex tasks you and your team are working on, consider linking to it, so it’s even easier to get an overview of everything being worked on.

Related: This Simple To-Do List Hack Could Make You Happier at Work

Keep it basic—your coverage plan will get fleshed out more as people are assigned to support you with coverage, or certain projects get put on the back burner—and get more detailed as you get closer to your departure. 

It’s also wise to anticipate any worst-case scenarios that could occur while you’re gone and how to solve them—this will further ensure you aren’t getting needlessly pinged for feedback and advice when you’re out of the office.

Step 3: Review with Team Members 

Now it’s time to start delegating tasks.

If you work under a manager, discuss with them who on your team is best equipped and has enough bandwidth to provide support while you’re on vacation. If you manage a team, discuss with your teammates, and decide for yourself.

Either way, it’s good to schedule at least 15 minutes to go over your coverage plan with each person to talk about which tasks and responsibilities you expect them to handle when you’re out of the office. This way, you can advise them on handling specific situations, tell them who to talk to if they have any issues, and explain how much authority they have to make certain decisions on their own. (This also allows your teammates to ask any questions if they’re unclear about certain directions.)

Step 4: Create a List of Resources

Once you have a rough out-of-office coverage plan laid out and know who’s going to help carry it out, it’s time to put together any resources they may need—this could be passwords for specific apps (make sure they test all login information before you leave), how to do certain tasks and processes (consider recording Loom videos for easy reference if you don’t feel comfortable writing down a full list of instructions), and who to contact if they need any help.

Step 5: Manage Your Meetings

Have a few meetings that don’t require your attendance and aren’t worth rescheduling but you’d still like to get updated on? Get your colleagues to download Bloks.

With Bloks, your teammates can automatically transcribe and summarize key points from meetings with just one click.

→ Sign up to try Bloks

Once Bloks works its magic, users can download transcriptions and copy and paste meeting summaries into emails and conversations—giving you a quick overview of anything you missed, which action items have been assigned to colleagues, and what you need to work on once you’re back. 

For other important meetings that require your attendance, make plans to reschedule them well in advance.

Related: Tired of Taking Notes? Try These AI Meeting Assistants

Step 6: Share Your Coverage Plan

Share your vacation coverage plan with teammates via email or Slack a day or two before your planned out-of-office time. Sharing it a few days in advance gives you time to update and amend your out-of-office coverage plan, should any unexpected issues arise, and finalize your contingency plans.

Related: Skip the Vacation Calendar—Do This Before Taking Time Off

Depending on the size of your company or team, the previous six steps are all you need to do. 

But, if you really want a worry-free vacation, consider doing the following steps after finalizing your out-of-office coverage plan…

Step 7: Set An Out-of-Office Message and Reminders 

Not everyone will know what the plans are while you’re away.

Set up an automated vacation responder to be sent from your work email that includes basic information like the days you’ll be away and who to contact in your absence (doing this is particularly important if you have a public-facing role and deal with customers and clients).

Your out-of-office email doesn’t have to be complicated—keep it short and simple.

If you’re looking for a basic template, try this one—according to ChatGPT, it’s the best example of an out-of-office message and took us seconds to create (although we made some minor edits 😏).

Basic Out-of-Office Message Template:

Subject: [Auto-Reply] Out of Office - {Your Name}


Thank you for your email. I’m currently out of the office with limited access to email. I will be away from {Start Date} and returning on {End Date}.

If your message requires immediate attention, please direct your inquiry to {Alternative Contact Person’s Name and Email}, who is standing in for me during my absence.

Please note that your email is very important to me, and I will do my best to respond as soon as I can when I return. I appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.

Best Regards,

{Your Name}

{Your Position}

{Your Contact Information}

If you want to give colleagues outside your team more visibility, consider posting your plans to a company Slack channel closer to your vacation days.

If your company uses a vacation calendar, don’t forget to update it, and do a status update in Slack or Microsoft Teams (whichever your team uses), too.

Step 8: Schedule a Check-In

If you don’t have the kind of job that allows you to fully peel yourself away from work, schedule a quick Zoom call, Hangout, or Huddle with your colleagues to see if work's running smoothly or if you need to make any changes to your coverage plan.

If your job is more flexible, schedule a meeting to go over everything you missed once you’re back.

Step 9: Use an Out-of-Office Checklist

If you’re still anxious before your departure, create a checklist before leaving the office that you can go over on the final days before your vacation.

Here’s a simple out-of-office checklist you can use that simplifies a few of the steps listed above:

  • Notify your manager and colleagues about your vacation well in advance—this will help them plan their tasks accordingly
  • Delegate tasks or assign a colleague to handle responsibilities in your absence
  • Complete pending tasks before your vacation to avoid any inconvenience during your absence
  • Set up an automated email response to inform people about your absence and when you’ll be back (don’t forget to include contact information for the colleague/s who can help in your absence)
  • Prepare an out-of-office coverage plan with instructions on how to manage your tasks during your vacation
  • Reschedule your meetings or assign someone else to represent you if they can’t be rescheduled
  • Clear your workspace so it’s nice and tidy for when you get back to work

And that’s it! You’re now ready to go on vacation.

Once you’re back, sign up to try Bloks—the AI-powered productivity assistant. It puts your notes, tasks, and meetings on autopilot, so you’ll feel more prepared before, during, and after your next out-of-office. 

→ Download Bloks here

Whether you’re a sales superstar, in-demand consultant, busy recruiter, or someone who simply needs to schedule a lot of meetings, one thing’s for sure—you’ve probably booked a lot of them over the past two years.

Hybrid work has forced the majority of our meetings online, and while we appreciate being able to wear sweatpants during normal work hours, the time-consuming ballet that is sharing your availability, finding a time to meet, and adding it to your calendar isn’t quite as enjoyable. 

Speaking with everyone from solopreneurs to seasoned professionals, it seems like a lot of people find meeting scheduling software either costly, impersonal, or just plain boring. And Calendly and other alternatives don’t always cut it.

We hear you. 

Everyone is different, and so is how they work. Making good first impressions is important, and you shouldn’t have to pay a premium for them or basic customizations and integrations with your meeting booking system.

Nook Calendar’s meeting proposal feature is already used by tons of high-performing teams for selecting and proposing meeting times outside of their organization. 

Now, we’re making things even easier by letting you build personal pages with shareable calendar-booking links, right in Nook Calendar. Add them to your LinkedIn profile, email signature, website, or messages when finding a time to meet.

We think it’s the best meeting scheduling software out there, and we’re excited for you to give it a try, so let’s get started.

Here’s How to Set Up a Personal Booking Page in Nook Calendar

First off, if you’re new to Nook Calendar—hello! (If you’re already a Nook user, you can skip ahead.)

You’re going to start by syncing your calendar—either from Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook—and entering your work email address.

Once you approve any necessary permissions, you’ll set up your People Bar. Search for any connections and add the people you interact with the most when scheduling meetings.

From there, you can add any additional calendars you want to see (add your personal one, if you like, to further prevent any overlaps when scheduling meetings), integrate with Zoom (so you can launch calls straight from your calendar), and choose your preferred display setting—select Match OS, Light Mode, or Dark Mode.

Launch Nook Calendar, and you’re ready to set up your online meeting scheduler.

Now, the fun begins

You’re going to start by claiming your unique URL for sharing your meeting availability page. 

Your first name appears by default, but really, it can be anything. We recommend using your full name (e.g., /john-smith).

(You can always change your URL in the future, as long as it’s still available.)

From there, you want to complete your profile. 

Your profile pic is automatically pulled in from your Microsoft or GCal account.

But you can add your name, job title, welcome message, and links to social media profiles or professional website, so guests know a bit more about you when booking a meeting. 

Then, you can start setting your weekly availability.

Nook Calendar defaults to traditional time blocks—9–12 a.m. and 1–5 p.m. These are the hours someone can book a meeting from your personal page. Adjust them based on your availability. 

Your timezone is automatically set to your local time, but you can change it if you primarily work with people in a different timezone and it’s better to visualize that when setting your availability.

Choose which calendar you want to accept meetings in—it can only be booked in one, but Nook Calendar will automatically reference your availability in other calendars you’ve synced to prevent double-bookings when someone schedules a meeting.

Now, it’s time to set up some paramaters. 

You can set up your preferred meeting duration in either 15, 30, 45-minute or one-hour increments (or a custom time).

You can also add buffer time to give yourself a break between meetings, or set a lead time of up to 24 hours, so no one can book any last-minute meetings.

And you’re all set! You can preview what the page will look like, then share it with contacts or add it to your LinkedIn profile (we suggest adding it as a secondary URL), email signature, and anywhere else you do business.

Once someone books time in your calendar, you’ll receive an email and get a notification in the Pulse.

If you ever need to make any changes, you can access your personal meeting page in the bottom of the Magic Panel and make any adjustments—either to your weekly availability or personal information.

You can also remove your availability by simply creating events in Nook Calendar and marking them as Busy to block off time and prevent any bookings.

Nook Calendar’s new personal pages for sharing meeting availability are available on Web, iOS, and Android. 
If you have any questions or thoughts, we’d love to hear them. Hit us up in our Slack Community or contact us through Support.