I have a personal bias against out of office email replies and out of office voicemails. There. I’ve said it. It’s out there. During the Summer months especially, I hear/read over and over again: “This is Tim, I’ll be out of the office from July 15 – 23 with limited access to voicemail and email. I’ll reply to your message upon my return. If your need is urgent, contact [insert co-worker’s name here].
It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. And it shouldn’t affect me this way. Working humans deserve time away; especially those who spend their days constantly pulled in all directions by others.
For me personally, I can’t do it, and I don’t want to. I’ve tried. It actually makes things worse for me. I’m happiest when I’m on vacation and I’m still making things happen. The flywheel is still spinning. I’m connected, but on my terms. Technology makes it so easy that I never need to let anyone know I’m away from the office or on vacation. A couple hours of triage in the early morning for pressing matters, and I’m good until mid-afternoon. I keep an eye on emails and voicemails throughout the day, and push things along while enjoying my day. It makes my vacation so much better to approach it this way, vs. trying to fly blind through a week off in the name of work/life balance. For me, doing calls from the beach or the pool IS work/life balance.
I’ve also found that most people who are Ballers stay connected as well – even if they use out of office messages and auto-replies. Hustlers often use the out of office tactic to strategically deflect, but for high-stakes interactions, my experience is that they’re always reachable.
It’s all about your brand and marketplace perception. How do you want to be perceived?