By Kendall Martin
Have you ever sent an email to a colleague or client and waited a few days to a week for a reply? Did the reply indicate that the delay was due to the person being out of the office?
Not all situations where you have to be out of the office are pre-planned and organized. However, if you know you will be out of the office, it is common courtesy and proper business etiquette to keep colleagues informed. Follow these tips:
- Set up an automatic out-of-office reply on your email. Indicate the dates, not just the days of the week, you will be unavailable and the date of your return. Follow the same protocol on your voice mail.
- Indicate an alternate contact, for time critical issues that may come up in your absence. Don’t leave co-workers and clients hanging.
- Leave professional out-of-office messages. In email messages, check for spelling mistakes and confirm accuracy of information. Ensure that your voice-mail message is clear. Don’t provide personal details about why you are out.
- Note that you will be checking email, if that is your plan. If you are out of the office but will check email periodically, let people know. It will eliminate confusion about whether clients or co-workers should contact an alternate person in your absence. They may prefer to wait for a response directly from you.
- Remove your out-of-office email reply and update your voicemail message, when you return to work. It looks unprofessional to have an outdated outgoing message, and it delays communication with others. Plus, by immediately resetting both messages, you keep people from having to tell you that your messages are outdated.
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