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? 
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Following on from my last article ‘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 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 July X.
  • 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 John Smith, Title, who will help you.  You can email him at [email protected] 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 July 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 [email protected] 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 July X and in the meantime I have no access to my emails.
  • Guide: If you require immediate assistance, please contact Jane Smith, Title, who will be happy to help you in my absence.  You can email Jane at [email protected] 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 with a managed inbox.

Here’s an immediate and practical Gift of you!  A complimentary copy of “Do You Have Trouble Saying NO?”

Let me walk you through the mindsets, strategies and exact words and phrases to use to ensure you keep stronger, more assertive boundaries for yourself and your time without upsetting yourself, or the other person.  Also, you’ll receive my twice-monthly eZine filled with more tips, tools, ideas and news.

About the author

Kay White is our Show Up & Sparkle blogger. Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert for Ambitious Women in Business, Kay shows professional women how to attract promotion, recognition and rewards at work without feeling they have to ’sell their soul. Kay shows her clients, who are corporate career women at all different stages of their careers, how to naturally attract more income and opportunity all while being true to themselves. Combining strategic moves with influencing skills plus compelling and assertive language and powerful mindsets, Kay draws on her own 20+ years corporate career in the very male-dominated world of London insurance broking. She started at 18 as a Secretary and left as a Director to start her own business. Hosting an annual 3-day Event for corporate women “Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard LIVE” Kay encourages and shows women how to be the best, most valuable version of themselves. Kay is author of the Number 1 Best-Seller “The A to Z of Being Understood” and you can connect and find out more from Kay at : www.kaywhite.com.

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