Out of Office is on. And Relax. That moment of work bliss when the autoresponder goes on and the daily commute is no more; well for a week or two at least. Being able to state, without apology, that you won’t be answering emails and that phone calls will legitimately go unanswered. The out of office message is your new superpower. Don’t believe me? Then let me share with you how this collection of words can help your work-life balance, productivity and personal brand.
I may be a minority, but I LOVE the out of office message. It is not merely an autoresponder but a chance to share with the world a little bit of your personality. There are times where a client or contacts’ message has me laughing out loud (it involved unicorns). Others show how they value their time and want to be communicated with (they delete everything sent them when they are away). Other’s allow me to stay in contact once they move jobs (by including their LinkedIn profile). None of these methods included a simple “I am away until x date”.
I won’t be talking about the content that you should automatically know; it is the 21st Century after all. It goes without saying that your out office should include the date you return to work (if you are away) and who your contacts should direct their queries too (saves you having a list as long as your arm to catch up on when you get back). This is how the out of office tool can project your work-life balance boundaries into the minds of others; your new superpower!
To put this into context, I will share with you my out of office. You may find that company policy influences what you can and can’t include; but try where you can to inject a little of “you” within their limits. Rules were meant to be broken, right?
I am writing this during the first week of the summer vacation; however, I turn my autoresponder on whenever I am not available. The content may tweak take this into consideration – from not being available on a “normal work” day to shutting up shop on a Thursday afternoon.
My message allows me to make it clear to anyone when I am around. Many a client worries about “loosing” people by not making themselves available 24/7. So far, I am not aware of anyone not working with me because I am not there at the click of their fingers. As I say frequently, “if a customers won’t wait until you are available, they were never your client in the first place”. In fact, many seem to take my lead or enjoy receiving the messages; I am all about work-life balance after all!
So, here it is, in full:
Let me break it down for you and start planning your special message
I not only support flexible working, I live it, and my usual days of work are Monday to Thursday.
In one simple sentence I am immediately letting people know one of my business mission (support flexible working) I am also making it clear how I work (flexibly, Monday to Thursday). Following the standard “Thank you” – it is important to be polite – this is the first thing anyone reads from me.
BANG! Straight away people know how I work and what to expect!
However, as it is the start of the six weeks holidays, I am having some quality time with my girls. For the next week that will mostly include theme parks.
This line is the one that changes dependent on what is happening in my life. For the next few weeks it will involve making it clear that my life has balance; that as a working parent it is all about family and work. I am sharing a little about me and how we generate fun!
POW! I am showing a little about myself outside of the business and why I am not around. Not to justify my absence but to explain it.
If you need to get hold of me urgently, and it can’t wait until I return, then please message me through my Facebook Page and I will get back to you ASAP.
I added this in about a year ago, after nearly missing an opportunity to appear on Sky News! Fear not, the journalist did get hold of my on Twitter in the end. As a modern Mum, I confess my phone is always within arm’s reach and Facebook is one of my addictions. Adding this gives people the option to contact me, should they need to speak with ASAP. To date only a handful of people of contacted me this way – thankfully in my line of work, things can usually wait.
KAPOW! I am channelling my “out of hours” communication through one place. Saves having messages in WhatsApp, Twitter, Email and smoke signal too!
In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about my services feel free to visit my Facebook page or the website. You can also keep up to date with our antics via my Instagram account … I’m a return to work, career, business and confidence coach for parents. Find out how I have helped parents, just like you, create their ideal work-life balance on www.thebalancecollective.co.uk
On a normal working week, and especially during the school holidays, I utilise social media scheduling tools to make sure that my work-life balance and careers messages are still around. I love coming home after a day out and about to community comments, which I can respond to at my leisure. 4G also gives me the luxury to share information whenever inspiration hits! From a personal branding perspective, this connects me with the world – I am sure anyone that follows any of my channels witnesses the full disclosure over Instagram! For anyone that is reaching out to me on email for the first time, possibly with a coaching enquiry, there is some information on these channels, and my blog, that can support them until I back at my desk.
THWACK: Commercially, my business is still responding to queries; my beautiful website is working hard whilst I am away and I making it clear who I work with and how I help them.
Notice the missing word?
No “sorry” or “unfortunately”. At no point do I apologise for not being available. So, if you do nothing else, make sure you remove any apologetic language from your out of office. It will feel empowering.
Now that I have given you my secrets, join The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox, and share how you will use your new found superpower.