by Tanya Edwards
CN Digital ArchiveThe holidays are upon us, so whether you're heading to your hometown, getting away for New Year's, or just taking a few days off to relax with friends and family, it's almost time to set your OOO (out-of-office) message. Yay!
While there is nothing more satisfying than hitting save and walking away from your desk carefree, you want to make sure you're sending the right message to your coworkers and any external colleagues you work with. But if you've already started drafting your OOO email in your head, you know that this isn't quite as easy as it sounds. So how can you master the perfect message so that you convey both friendliness and make it clear that no, seriously, you are NOT checking email? Here are four tips to consider before you start typing:
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1. Keep it simple. but include essential details. "The best out-of-office messages are the ones that anticipate the recipient's needs," says Elana Konstant, a career coach at Konstant Change Coaching. "To avoid any confusion, you should always mention the following: the dates you will be away, whether you will be checking messages, when you expect to return messages by, and contact information for someone who can be contacted in your place, if applicable." In other words, don't just type, "I'm currently out of the office. Have a happy holiday!" even though lots of people are taking off next week.
2. Let it be known that you're turning off your work email alerts on your smartphone. It's not unusual to not answer emails when you're out of the office--especially during the holidays when people generally expect clients and colleagues to be a little MIA--but let your boss and anyone else you're working on a project with know that you won't be getting alerts. This way, if something really is urgent, they don't waste their time writing an email to you with the subject line in all caps. You certainly don't have to, but one way around this is to let essential people know that if there is an emergency, they should call you. (People are way less likely to actually pick up the phone to disrupt your holiday!)
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3. Be honest about your availability...and polite. "If you plan to be totally off the grid and not checking messages or having someone else respond for you, then you want to be clear and state something to the effect of 'I will not be accessing my email during this time,'" says Konstant. "However, it's always polite to include a line stating how important each message is and when you plan to respond. And if someone else can be contacted in your place, provide that person's contact information and ask that you remain copied on the emails so you are included in the follow-up." You know, after you're done drinking hot toddies.
4. Tailor your OOO message to your audience, if you can. If your email program allows for it, set up a separate message for internal colleagues if you want to share different information than you would with people outside your company. Konstant explains: "For instance, you may want to include a cell phone number where you can be reached for colleagues needing you urgently, or be more specific about your ability to respond to matters. Of course, depending on your company vibe, you could humanize an internal message a bit with more details and humor." Just try not to rub your sunbathing at the beach status in your coworkers' faces--nobody who is stuck at the office between Christmas and New Year's wants to hear about how you're sitting poolside.