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What does your Out of Office Message say about your work ethic?

Out of Office Messages

Cited as the top month to travel in Britain and Europe, September is a worker’s favourite time of year to jet away, bathe in low costs, bearable temperatures and sheer tranquillity – not a minor in sight! But hold up!

Before you flee from your desk, you’ve one final task to complete prior to your jollies; an out of office auto-response.

Undervalued, robotic and deemed generally, as a bit of a nuisance to apply – after a frantic last day of forward-planning, such a minor task seems rather trivial – or is it?

See how the automated response message has controversially been used as an ingenious tool as of late, to make a statement, have a laugh and sign out.

Steven Nelson, a reputable financial services consulter from the Lang Cat, and known-writer of elaborate out-of-office responses, devised an e-signature that was written in tune to eighties pop star Rick Astley’s hit Never Gonna Give You Up:

“Never gonna give you up, Never gonna let you down, Never gonna run around and desert you, Never gonna make you cry, Never gonna say goodbye, Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you. I’m also never gonna reply to your message until 9th August as I’m off on holiday.”

Not taking himself too seriously, Mr Nelson, has since confessed his humiliation concerning his OOO, but refuses to stop. Preferring his light-hearted auto-message “to counteract all the serious self-important OOO’s”, he said: “We work in financial services. What could possibly be classed as urgent?”

Synchronised digital devices have rapidly become the essence of our daily lives, making ‘switching off’ after-hours seem archaic.

Being held responsible for provoking stress, relationship troubles and sleepless nights, it’s no wonder workers are choosing to take an e-stance; humorous auto responses are being devised with vigour and taking over email signatures to let colleagues and clients know that they have officially ‘left the building.’

Rob Gilroy, a copywriter, who initially wrote funny out-of-office answers to amuse himself, says he now looks forward to his return just to read the replies.

His recent OOO read:

“ERROR 405: Could not reach copywriter. Soz. Haha! What a brilliantly geeky joke, that. But in all seriousness, if you’re wanting something done, no can do. I’m out of the office from now (Tues 27th June) to until then (Friday 30th June). And if you’re that Nigerian Prince, asking for more money, then no.

Not until you’ve paid that £12,000 back into my account. Other than that? I’ll bring any and all answers on my return. Peace out.”

To other existing companies, this kind of ‘off-the-whim’ behaviour isn’t very professional.

People who post Out of Office replies “are Lazy” and have a “fondness for sweatpants” – Tyler Brûlé

The editor-in-chief of Monocle, Tyler Brûlé, dedicated an entire article questioning an employee’s work ethic and integrity from applying an OOO to their email: “Can this person not manage their time away from the office? Or are they simply away having a laugh at my company’s expense?” “…I’m all for disconnecting when and where appropriate.

But I’m also conscious of the need to be responsive when one holds down a responsible job, and when the livelihoods of many others depend on us keeping up to date and in touch.”

A study from Volkswagen showed that staff who ‘switched off properly’ were more productive in the long-term and thus certain businesses and countries have gone the extra mile to ensure their workers ‘log out’ whilst on annual leave.

In 2014, German car firm Daimler set up an optional service for workers who’re off on holiday, to have all new emails deleted automatically. Moreover, France have also given staff the legal right to “disconnect” and avoid work emails outside working hours.

Do comical OOO’s reflect the work-shy? Or do they give employees a release from the all-consuming digital world? Let us know what you think.


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