Have you noticed a change in the out of office messages you receive? Gone are robotic justifications of why you cannot reply immediately to an email, with an offering of a number of alternative contact numbers and email addresses so that actually you ARE constantly contactable because you always have a mobile device with you and you’re never able to fully take a break away from your work.
They’ve been replaced with real, human messages written by real humans that reflect real life.
Last year with home working and home-schooling working parents started to freely express that they had responsibilities outside of work that needed their attention and replies to email would be a little slower.
We’ve noticed businesses are becoming more flexible with working hours so it doesn’t surprise us when we get an out of office message that says emails may be replied to outside of office hours (what even are they anymore?)
One of my favourite funny out of office messages said “I am on annual leave. I will allow each sender one email and if you send me multiple emails, I will randomly delete your emails until there is only one remaining. Choose wisely. Please note that you already sent me one email.” I wouldn’t suggest using it, in some cases there would be a valid reason for you to receive more than one email from the same person even if they know you’re unavailable, but I get the sentiment.
A recent poll on LinkedIn which asked if it is ok for out of office messages to be candid, or even funny received 16,445 votes with a huge 75% saying “Yes, it’s refreshing”, only 18% said they should be kept professional.
We believe they can be both, one of the good things to come out of the last year is that the working world is a lot more acceptable of life outside of the workplace. Depending on your industry you could be a little more creative but remember, the sender might not need to know all the details of why you are away. Set the expectations of your response to your sender and if you are a point of contact you should always include an alternative person’s contact details for emergencies.
Just for fun have a go at generating your next out of office message here