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Out of Office Messages: The Good & the Bad

Out of Office Messages: The Good & the Bad

Holiday, meeting or sick day – the Out of Office Message is a trusted tool. But while the vast majority of these away-day-watchdogs follow a traditional, informative (and somewhat dull) format there are some that have broken the mould… and possibly the career of the employee who typed it.

Of course the content of such a message can take on a life of its own, as one music journalist from the Guardian discovered when he returned from holiday to find out that his Out of Office Message had gone viral ΓÇô and also attracted a personal email from a high profile singer who felt the need to congratulate him on the creativity of his message.

But these messages, which are relentlessly fired out during an employeeΓÇÖs absence, also represent you and your business in the eyes of the individual attempting to contact them ΓÇô and with these automated introductions continuing without any kind of vetting or failsafe, could what was meant as a jovial jape actually end up damaging your reputation or even losing you business?

As shown by the examples below, the way in which the message is interpreted could raise a smile or the blood pressure:

  • I will be out of the office for the next 2 weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as ΓÇÿCharlotteΓÇÖ instead of ΓÇÿCliveΓÇÖ.
  • Hi, I’m thinking about your interesting e-mail. Stay right by your computer until you receive my response.
  • I am currently out of the office. If your email is urgent, please feel free to panic.
  • An error occurred while sending your message. Please restart your computer and send the message again.
  • IΓÇÖm not here because it is my BIRTHDAY!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • To ensure this message has been received correctly, please send a reply.
  • I am currently on holiday and have no interest in speaking with you. When I return I shall probably feel the same.

While these messages may be innocent enough, created out of enthusiasm, naivety or a desire to add a pinch of personality ΓÇô the truth is that interpretation is where it can all come unstuck ΓÇô because while you would stand out, would your business be standing out for the reasons you would like?

So with people, position, customs and cultures all influencing the way in which such messages could be interpreted, maybe the safest bet would be to keep any ΓÇ£alternativeΓÇ¥ Out of Office Messages for Private Contact lists or those within your own organisation ΓÇô and stick to a message that is practical (and safe) when dealing with everyone else.

Do you have an alternative Out of Office Message or an example of when such a message has created a negative (or positive) response? If so why not share it by posting a comment below.

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