Posted on 10/08/2017 by Helen Corke
I emailed a client last week and got the following OOO (Out Of Office) auto response:
I am out of office and will not be reading or returning any emails or calls during my personal time, so please may I ask that you respect this and not attempt to contact me.
I’ll be in touch upon my return after the 21st August but if your matter is urgent, contact our office for assistance.
I read it a few times to fully absorb it. No calls or emails…. really? Is it possible? For some this might be totally normal, but for me it is not and it really got me thinking.
At the end of this week, and for the first time in five years, I’ve decided to be officially Out Of Office. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had holidays, but I have always been contactable to my team or clients that needs me, and I purposefully haven’t put any auto OOO on. Much to the annoyance of my ever patient husband, I have logged on multiple times a day, taken calls and generally responded as one might expect if I were supposed to be working.
The question is…..why? Why do I find it so hard to be offline for a few weeks of the year that I work so hard to earn? Why do I feel I have to be always contactable and why do I never prioritise myself and my family over my work?? Well, the ever illusive answers to these questions I am still trying to figure out….but I think I’m slowly getting there, and if anyone else reads this and is like me, then hopefully it will act as a reminder to put themselves first once in a while!
In my particular case, it’s mainly due to the fact that I co-founded my business nearly five years ago, and since that moment I have had to be fully focused, committed and responsible for it, and critically, for all the wonderful people I’ve hired. The responsibility of that means that I have often felt unable to switch off, and felt that if anyone needed me I must always put them and the business first, regardless of my own personal needs. Undoubtedly it’s one of the key reasons the business has been successful, but I am now aware that to sustain that success requires me to trust the amazing team that I have built, and allow myself to switch off and fully recharge for everyone’s benefit.
So, like I say, I’m getting there! I know there are so many people like me who feel that weight of responsibility, but as I go from a sprint down to a gentle jog, I’m mentally preparing for a fully horizontal position by a suitably fabulous pool, with a great book and a glass of wine - surely that has got to be good for the soul! My OOO will read as follows:
I am out of the office but my incredible team are well positioned to support you with all your needs whilst I am away.
For our Hong Kong office, please contact either Mared Roberts for Commerce and Legal on firstname.lastname@example.org or Dawn Alba for Financial Services on email@example.com
For our Singapore office, please contact Fleur Daniell on firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll be in touch on my return after the 28th August and for any other matters, please contact our HK office and COE (Chief Of Everything) Purple Lai on 2526 8116 or email@example.com
Warm regards and many thanks,
Wishing you all a well-deserved break for yourselves, and don’t forget your OOO!