Leave Smart, Out Of Office Messages
Help people whilst you’re off doing something else
It’s a dilemma that’s so common now: when you’re out of the office, how ‘out’ of the office are you?
Following on from a previous article ‘How to Manage Your Emails and Enjoy Your Holiday Too’ and the importance of putting some helpful structure to your email ‘out of office’ message, a simple-to-follow formula of Acknowledge/Inform/Guide is useful and hits the spot. It's also the safest bet to show your clients, customers and colleagues how professional, helpful and thoughtful you are.
Depending on how you’ve decided to handle being away by doing one of the following:
- read your emails regularly whilst you’re away, twice per day for example;
- have someone else read them and then sort out the ones you need to read when you return or;
- read them all but only when you return you can just slot your information in and then lean into enjoying your holiday.
Here are a few simple examples to use whilst you are out of the office:
Reading your emails regularly whilst you’re away
- Acknowledge: Thanks for your message and I’m away from the office until [date].
- Inform: I will be reading and responding to my emails in the meantime and will do this twice per day.
- Guide: If your message is urgent and you need immediate assistance, please email Jim Smith, Title, who will help you. You can email him at email@example.com or call him on 123 456 7890. Thanks again, Your Name.
Someone else reads them, sorting out the ones you need to read on your return
- Acknowledge: Thanks for your message and I’m away from the office until August X.
- Inform: My colleague, Jim Smith, Title will be accessing my emails during my absence and will make sure any which require immediate attention are dealt with.
- Guide: If you want to speak to Jim Smith or call him direct whilst I’m away, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call him on 123 456 7890. Thanks again, Your Name.
Read them all but only when you return
- Acknowledge: Thanks for your message and I’m out-of-the-office at the moment.
- Inform: I will return to the office again on August X and in the meantime I have no access to my emails.
- Guide: If you require immediate assistance, please contact Jim Smith, Title, who will be happy to help you in my absence. You can email Jane at email@example.com or call her direct on: 123 456 7890. Thanks again, Your Name.
There’s always a balance to achieve and to weigh up how your emails impact on your time away is a decision you have to make yourself.
If you decide to read them and respond to them whilst you’re away, agree you’ll read them and respond to them for a certain period of time, for example, an hour, every day at the same time. Plans can then be made around that and you can tell people when you’ll get back to them thereby managing both their and your holiday companions’ expectations too!
Helping yourself by discussing this first with everyone makes it easy for them to understand and let you get on with it.
You may, or may not agree but this quote sums up the point here: “Time for work – yet take much holiday, for art’s and friendship’s sake”. George de Wilde
Putting a bit of structure in place will set you free and anyway, everyone needs some down-time, some time to reboot, so lean into a successful holiday, a managed inbox and your art and friendships too.
Let’s make it your time to shine, in your own way. When would now be a better time to go for Promotion, Recognition and Rewards?
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Use the chapter to lead conversations, to be more compelling when you first meet someone and - crucially - connect with colleagues, clients, customers by the power of your confident questions.