Out of Office Etiquette
It can be very frustrating to send an email or leave someone a voice mail with an urgent message and get no response. This happens frequently over the holidays when many people take time off from work to be with their families and friends, but you can’t really blame them. According to research, skipping vacation could be detrimental to your health. However, before you abandon your cubicle, it is a good idea to follow these tips to let others know you will be away.
Set up an automated out of office message on your phone and email. Information that should be included in this message is the dates you will be gone and whether or not you will have access to voice mail or email while you are away. Remember that this out of office message is for work and keep it professional.
It is important to provide some, but not too much detail in your out of office message. To avoid confusion, use exact dates rather than stating that you are gone ‘until next week.’ Also be careful when using numbers. 8/1/11 is read differently in England than the United States so you will want to use August 1, 2012 instead. For personal security you do not want to reveal too much. Avoid stating any information that will imply that you may be out of town. It’s also a good idea to place a post-it note on your phone to remind yourself to deactivate your automated out of office messages as soon as you return.
It is generally expected that you include the contact information of a person to whom questions can be directed during your absence. Make sure you let your contact person know that they are listed on your out of office message and give them any files they might need to provide helpful information to your clients/customers. Clean your desk and place other information that coworkers might need in clearly labeled files in an easy to spot location. See Clutter Clean-Up Tip #1 – Use Better File Names. Attaching a short list of the contents to the inside cover of each folder will encourage coworkers to replace anything they remove, and help you easily spot if anything’s missing when you return.
Finally, leave a physical notice on your bulletin board or whiteboard for anyone who may drop by your desk and inform those who sit near you that you will be gone. Now go ahead and enjoy your well-deserved break!