Time to ditch the Out of Office

You can access your email anywhere so why do you send an automated reply saying that you’re not in the office? Do you intentionally give scammers and hoaxers your full contact details or are you setting the out of office function without asking if it’s needed? What it says is that you won’t reply to an email for a period of time. So what? We used to allow 28 days for a response to a general query. And who is it for? Your boss knows you’re not there because he or she approved your leave and surely you told your immediate colleagues about the absence.

Go through the emails you received last week. What percentage needed a reply from you? How many of them were not copied into your boss or another team member? How many of the senders are incapable of contacting someone else in an emergency, and how do the queries get answered when your leave is unplanned? If, after answering those questions, you’re still nervous after leaving a precious email unattended you need to look at alternatives to the out of office.

The first is auto-forward. You can send all or some email to an alternative address. The second is setting up a delegate. You can let a colleague access your email and check for anything urgent. If you ask nicely they might even delete all the junk and auto replies so that, when you return, you can concentrate on the few messages that you need to read.

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