Out-of-office etiquette: The right way to set up automated email responses

(BPT) - It’s that time of year — the season for Out of Office automated email responses! Whether you’ll be taking a long vacation or will just be away from the office for a day or two, you should know people really do care about your OOO settings. In fact, 77 percent of Americans say they enjoy seeing others’ creative OOO emails, and that setting their own automated response makes it really feel as if vacation has started.

Not quite half of all people set up Out of Office responses, however, according to a recent survey by the Center for Out of Office Excellence. And among those who do, 59 percent said they were likely to use a fun, humorous OOO message to announce their absence. However, slightly more than that — 60 percent — said they wouldn’t be sharing personal information, like their vacation plans, in their message.

“In this age of constant connectedness and digital distractions, we have less time to make meaningful offline connections,” says Mister Manners, Thomas P. Farley, who has written for the New York Post, hosted a program on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Network and appeared on the Today show and Dr. Oz. “As human beings, taking the time to disconnect — going truly out of office and not halfheartedly out of office — is vital for all of us. It’s also important to practice good out-of-office etiquette giving everyone the break he or she deserves. That way, once everyone’s back in the office again, we’re refreshed, recharged and ready to reconnect.” Farley offers some tips for disconnecting with dignity:

When setting up your OOO

* Keep things short but sweet. Avoid rambling messages, but use a conversational — not clinical — tone.

* Be just informative enough. Include vital facts like whether you’ll be checking email while you’re away, if and how you can be reached in case of a work emergency, who’s covering for you while you’re out and when you will return.

* Turn on your OOO right before you walk out the door, and deactivate it once you’ve returned to your desk. Don’t use the OOO as a cheat to avoid work requests when you’re back; 2 percent of people wait until the end of their first day back to reactivate their mail, according to the Center of Out of Office Excellence’s survey.

* Just as you have an OOO for your work account, use a personal away message for your personal accounts, particularly if you’re planning to go on a complete email diet. Have fun with your personal away message, infusing it with some whimsy and even inviting friends and family to interact with you on social media rather than email.

* Stay the course — if your OOO indicates you won’t be checking email, then don’t check it at all. At the very least, don’t reply as doing so sets the expectation that you’re working while on vacation and will answer emails consistently while away.

When you get someone else’s OOO

* Don’t stress. Nearly 15 percent of those surveyed by the Center for Out of Office Excellence said getting an OOO response makes them anxious because they fear work won’t get done. Instead, remain calm and realize there is no such thing as an email emergency. If you need immediate assistance, simply follow the steps outlined in the sender’s message.

* If you’re not taking a holiday or vacation, try not to be jealous. Your turn will come eventually. Meanwhile, relish the fact you’ll be able to take nice, long lunches and get a lot more done with a reduced volume of email from your OOO co-workers.

* Don’t clog the inbox of a vacationing co-worker just to get something off your plate (or chest). If your matter can wait, compose your email to out-of-office colleagues, but save it in your drafts folder and send it when they’re back in the office.

* Avoid sneaky contact, such as interacting with the person on social media where work conversations wouldn’t usually take place.

* Stage your own exit. Are you the last person in the office? What are you waiting for? Set your own OOO, shut down your computer and begin your holiday, too.

 


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