No one enjoys getting a vacation auto-reply, also known as an out-of-office (OOO) message: “I’ll be out of my office until July 6, 2016 please call my cell phone at XXX.XXX.XXXX for any urgent messages.” They feel cold, like an impersonal, inadvertently sent message. Worst of all, auto-reply messages hinder team collaboration. Receiving an auto-reply isn’t confirmation the recipient will actually see the email when he or she returns to the office, meaning further follow-up is often needed. With the recipient out of commission while on vacation, it’s very difficult to get work done!
Vacation auto-reply messages are also not ideal for the vacationer. In many cases, a vacation auto-reply can let spammers (who are trying millions of random email addresses to find “real” ones) know your email address is active, checked frequently, and worth bombarding with spam. Sometimes, email accounts detect auto replies and trigger anti-spam measures. These measures (such as clicking a link in an automated email to verify you’re not a spammer) backfire when you’re out of office and can’t respond in the proper time.
The problems don’t end with deliverability issues. When you return to the office, you’re faced with potentially hundreds or thousands of emails. Because of email flagging overuse, it’s impossible to know which ones are important without spending hours and hours reviewing each one.
The point of all this is vacation auto-replies are based on a fundamentally flawed workflow. This kind of process has proven to be unmanageable, difficult, and even against office policy in some cases (such as the office that banned email altogether).
Email wasn’t built to be a task manager. It’s a digital version of the postal system, and it’s due for an upgrade. Planning vacation auto-replies around email is a way to continue this cycle of inefficiency.
Some individuals choose not to use vacation auto-replies when they are out of office, opting instead to have all their email auto-forwarded to a colleague or team manager. This works great for time-sensitive emails, but there’s always the risk sensitive information might be forwarded on accident.
Another alternative is to direct individuals to non-email forms of communication, such as a cell phone or hotel phone. Though this provides a definite way to get in touch while out of the office, it completely defeats the purpose of a vacation.
The integrated solutions in Micro Focus Collaboration software allow your team to approach vacation responders in a better, smarter way.
In fact, you can avoid vacation responders altogether with this method.
When you return from work, you won’t have to sort through hundreds of email messages to find the work that’s important right away. Instead, you’ll be able to immediately see which important tasks you have ahead of you. This helps increase post-vacation productivity and gives you a running start now that you feel recharged.
Before leaving for your break, contact your project manager or a fellow team member who has authority to assign tasks to you. Include a message in your vacation responder that all work requests should be sent to him or her while you are away. Then, this person can create tasks.
You can even email your team before you leave so they start assigning your tasks for you.
Maybe create a new task folder called "To-dos When Returning from Vacation” and share that.
Teams that are already using GroupWise and Vibe in a task-driven way will notice there’s not much that changes when a team member is out (other than who a particular task is assigned to). This means no more need to use an impersonal, inconvenient vacation responder, and there will be less sifting through piles of emails after turning to an office.
Basically, it’s what working as a team should be.
Learn more by reading about Micro Focus Collaboration.
Thanks for reading!