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Monday, 15 February 2021

Simon says: Disconnect, now

Going on leave? Don’t apologize for being out of the office — and don’t invite people to intrude on your hard-earned day off.

You need to update your autoresponder — NOW. Whether you’re on vacation, on stress leave or just taking a personal day (say, to go visit the moroor and get that RFID sticker before 31 March so they don’t fine your [redacted]), it is time to stop apologizing for not being in the office. We see 100s of out of office replies every day, and many of them drive us bonkers. Some tips:

Don’t say you have “limited access to your email.” Your phone is in your pocket, so there’s nothing “limited” about your access. It’s totally cool to disconnect — in fact, nights, weekends, national holidays and annual leave are *supposed* to be times when you sign off from work. Instead, simply admit that you’re not checking email while you’re on leave.

It’s nobody’s business why you’re “OOO” (see below), whether it’s for a medical thing, annual leave or to have something removed from a place it shouldn’t be. You’re “on leave” and that’s all anyone needs to know.

Encourage them to reach out to someone else — a colleague who’s covering for you, perhaps. But don’t doxx them: Hand out their name and email in your autoreply (with their permission in advance), but not their mobile or other contact details unless it’s entirely critical or required by company policy.

Don’t doxx yourself — your mobile number or desk extension have no place in your auto-reply. Anybody who needs it has got it (or can get it from you when you’re not on leave).

Don’t be so bloody formal. There’s no need for “valued sender” or anything of the like. It clangs.

Don’t set unreasonable expectations. Instead of saying to “expect a delayed response” (or, worse, apologizing that you may be late writing them), tell them you’ll be “checking email when you’re back.” We don’t know if they still do this, but as recently as 2014, Daimler allowed staff to set email to automatically delete while you’re on leave.


  • You’re not “OOO” — that’s a noise some may make in other circumstances.
  • We’re not “Dears.” There is no plural of Dear. It is just “Dear [noun].” Deers (pl) are hoofed ruminant mammals from the family Cervidae. Some folks think they taste good.
  • Don’t invite them to call or WhatsApp you, presuming they know your number (you didn’t include it, right?). If their hair is really on fire and they have your number, odds are good they’ll skip the email pleasantry and go straight to a call. Inviting a call just encourages needless interruptions.

Need help getting started? Here’s the patented Enterprise “OOO” Reply. Customize it to your heart’s content.

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