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Protocol for Use of Out of Office Email and Voicemail Messages, and Email Signatures by professional services staff at UCL


UCL is committed to providing a high level of customer service to internal and external customers.
This protocol is designed to give guidance as to the appropriate use of out of office and voicemail messages, and to ensure that we set out of office messages with an awareness of the impression messages are giving to internal and external contacts.

Out of Office Email Messages

The guidelines below are accepted UCL protocol for using Out of Office messages on email.

  1. Out of office messages should be used solely for the purpose of informing correspondents that the person is out of the office, and should not be used for any other purpose.
  2. The out of office message should be brief, should state when you are back in the office, and give a contact name for urgent queries, along with any other pertinent information.
  3. In general, the out of office message should only be set if a member of staff is expecting to be out of the office for one day or more. However, in periods when a large number of incoming emails are expected (for example, a date close to an application deadline), it may be useful to set an out of office message if the staff member is away for less than one day, so that urgent queries can be referred.
  4. An out of office message should be used when a member of staff is on annual leave, on sick leave, on a course or at an all-day meeting, but does not need to specify the reason a staff member is away.
  5. Messages can forewarn of a planned event or absence during a critical period (for example, out of the office due to attendance at an examinations board) but should not advertise a heavy workload.
  6. It may be appropriate to give more detail in an out of office message to internal contacts.

Out of Office Voicemail Messages

Note that the voicemail facility is not provided by default but needs to be requested by the user. There is no charge for voicemail accounts.
All staff at UCL should update their Staff Directory entries to include contact numbers.
A standard message should be recorded which will pick up after a short number of rings if a staff member is away from his/her desk. The message should state:

  1. Name, department, and UCL (for example, Dr XXX, Anthropology, UCL) , and;
  2. Invite the caller to leave a message which will be responded to as soon as possible.

A temporary message should be recorded when a member of staff is out of the office for a specified period. As well as the above, this should also state:

  1. The date the staff member is expected to return;
  2. An alternative contact for urgent calls;
  3. Invite the caller to leave a message which will be responded to on the staff member’s return.

Email Signatures

  1. Email signatures should contain the work title and Department of the staff member, as well as phone number, email address and relevant web address where appropriate. See example:
  2. Cathy Brown
    Faculty Manager
    Arts and Humanities; Social and Historical Sciences
    Tel: 020 7679 1347
    Internal: 31347
    Mobile: 07826892046

    Any variations or additions to this format should be agreed by the relevant Head of Professional Services or Faculty Manager.

  3. Phone numbers must be added to all email signatures, particularly the internal extension as well as the full external number, and a work mobile number should be included if available.

Vice-Provost (Operations), February 2014