You know those 3 magical words that most people long to hear at this time of year … no, not THOSE three; this isn’t a script for another cheesy Richard Curtis Christmas film. I’m referring to ‘Out of Office’, which means hypothetically you are putting your feet up, chilling out and switching your brain off almost entirely, but are you really?
Personally, I only ever switch my Outlook to ping out an Out Of Office message when absolutely necessary (I think the last time was when I was quite literally at the other side of the world and felt the need to explain that I may be replying at 4:30am UK time). From speaking to a lot of people during my professional career, this has always proven to be an interesting subject. There are those that can’t wait to disengage themselves from work (probably spending the last 30 mins of their working day staring at the clock…) and will probably take great pleasure in sharing said info on Facebook: “OUT OF OFFICE IS ON BITCHES!!” (you know who you are!) and there are those that have the opposite thought process.
For me, I am loath to tell anyone outside of my circle of colleagues that I am out of office, why? Because I am very conscious of one thing – COMPETITION! Why would you want to tell your Clients and the market that you are unavailable? Unable to assist them with what could be a trivial matter, or a HUGE situation. Depending on the relationship you have with your Clients, some of them won’t think twice about hopping over to a competitor of yours to ask for their help instead upon the receipt of your OOO.
Only last week I received an email around 8pm from a long-standing Client of mine needing urgent help in filling a position which they had unexpectedly been let down on. Rather than addressing it in the morning, I thought, this is a chance for me to make my mark and show that I can drop everything to help with a critically important hire. On the back of that, we were given a 24 hour ‘head start’ against other Agencies.
Flip the above scenario on its head. If I was away and an Out Of office email was sent out automatically, would I still be in such a favourable position? I can confidently say no to this question I’m sure. Remember you have worked very hard to get your name and your own personal brand in the market. Clients engage with you because you have built up a relationship of trust and credibility, don’t lose this too cheaply.