August is the month of Out of Office replies.
For some, you are on ‘Annual Leave’. This is almost to say that you would far rather be at work, however you will be in terrible trouble if you don’t use up your number of days. So, reluctantly, you are sitting on a beach.
Others are simply ‘Out of the Office’. Simple, cryptic and named after the alert. You may be working from home, you might be away on business. It’s for you to know and for us, maybe, to find out.
Some go the whole hog and admit to being on a good, old fashioned Holiday. Holiday. The sort of word that you imagine the health and safety gnomes will declare war on any day now on the basis that it might make non-holiday-makers feel uncomfortable.
Finally, there is the tailored approach. Cheeky, funny or peculiar, the sandcastle on the Out-of-Office beach…
Here are three I’ve seen winging their way back to me in the past month:
From a leading figure on the social enterprise scene:
“I’m am off until Sept 1st on a bloody well deserved holiday. (My Wife) will castrate me if I look at work emails so there is zero chance of getting me. If it is really urgent then get in touch with (my business partner) who will give you excellent service (he tells me).”
From a successful UK-based entrepreneur;
“I’ll occasionally be checking emails surreptitiously under the table at dinner when I think no-one is looking, but I won’t be catching up on most things until 25th August when I’m back in the UK”
And finally, from the CEO of a major broadcaster;
“I’m really sorry but I’m away on holiday for a few weeks & apparently in Mexico you are forced to drink copious amounts of tequila if caught answering emails. Therefore please ignore any responses that emanate from this address between August 1st – 16th”.
Whatever your message reads, you can be sure of an avalanche of emails when you return. For some, this is one long nightmare of wading through sludge, with enough bum-covering ‘CCs’ to paper the Sistine Chapel. For others, it is like Christmas morning, with the added bonus of the occasional bodily enhancement offer.
Is there any way to avoid the return-to-work inbox? Maybe there is. Why not use a technique favoured by a colleague of mine. This is a man who has what might be the widest international network of anyone I know;
“Due to an overloaded inbox, this and my other email addresses have been temporarily deactivated, and can not receive nor store messages (thus, your message has not been received). They will be re-activated on Monday, 29 August 2011. Thank you”.
The above message appears in three languages.
Now that’s what I call Out-of-Office.