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20 Jun

Inform others of your delay, even if you are at the office

Datum: 2017-06-20 17:52

When we trav­el and will not have much time for respond­ing to emails, we turn on the auto­mat­ic out of office”-reply. Many use this sim­ple yet valu­able way of inform­ing who­ev­er is email­ing us that we will respond to their mes­sage, but it might take us a bit longer than usu­al to do so.

We might do the same thing when we are attend­ing a course, on hol­i­day, home sick, tak­ing care of a sick child, or in oth­er sit­u­a­tions when we are not at work.

There, but nev­er here”
But sure­ly we can regard our­selves out of office” even if we are at the office, since the out of office”-message is only intend­ed to inform the sender that it will take a lit­tle longer than usu­al for us to respond, not nec­es­sar­i­ly inform of where we are phys­i­cal­ly at. There­fore, we can use this func­tion when sit­ting by our desk as well.

Per­son­al­ly, I am usu­al­ly at the office” when I trav­el and out of office” when actu­al­ly in my office. I have recent­ly writ­ten and devel­oped a new course and a few new lec­tures, and if there is ever a time when I get tun­nel-vision and become com­plete­ly engulfed by a task, it is when work­ing on these projects. It has tak­en me longer than usu­al to respond to emails in the last cou­ple of days and I wish I had let those who have emailed me know that, which I will make a point of doing from now on. The per­son email­ing us is most inter­est­ed in when they might expect an answer from us — not where we are physically.

Let us there­fore remem­ber to also use the out of office”-message when our reg­u­lar time­frame for respond­ing to emails is pro­longed for some rea­son — regard­less if we are at the office or not.

Do this
If you think this sounds like a good idea, then try the following:

  1. Think about what typ­i­cal sit­u­a­tions you might be able to apply this tip to. When do you usu­al­ly fall behind” on pro­cess­ing your email inbox even if you are not out of town or home sick?

  2. Now for­mu­late a text you might use in these sit­u­a­tions and save it wher­ev­er you keep your stan­dard­ized texts eas­i­ly avail­able (I keep mine in a note­book in Evernote).

  3. If you can pre­dict one or sev­er­al sit­u­a­tions due to which it will take you longer to process and answer emails, remind your­self of turn­ing on the out of office”-message by writ­ing a to-do-task that is due the day you know you will be busy with some­thing more impor­tant than check­ing your inbox.

Being clear is always appreciated
If we make it clear to the sender when they might expect an answer from us and that it might take longer than usu­al before they do, he or she will know what to expect. They will not have to wor­ry whether we received the email at all (because they do get lost some­times!) or if we have read it, but can decide for them­selves if the mat­ter is so urgent that they need to try reach­ing us by phone or some oth­er way instead. Clar­i­ty cre­ates flex­i­bil­i­ty and makes com­mu­ni­ca­tion run much smoother.

What’s your way?
How do you use the out of office”-function? If you have anoth­er idea than those men­tioned here, let us know in a comment.