Friday, August 12, 2011

The politics of the out-of-office reply

Summer... ah the time of holidays and out-of-office replies to email. These automated messages are about communication - externally and internally. Yet, like so much in the workplace, there is a surprising amount of politics involved in the out-of-office/vacation reply for email and voice mail.

We believe it is both good etiquette and good business sense to let people know if you are away. In an international world, businesses cannot assume that there is shared knowledge about holiday timings, such as duration and length. International contacts may not know that, for example, July is the preferred holiday month and three weeks the usual length of break. Similarly, in our short attention span world, contacts may not be willing to wait three weeks if they haven't received alternative contact details. Managing those external communications includes setting up good out-of-office replies.