What does ‘out of office’ mean?
I’ve just returned to work after a full two weeks of covid – it was my first bout and I felt terribly ill. Knowing that unless I set an automatic reply on my emails I’d struggle with my inbox, I used the candid message that I had covid and wasn’t sure when I’d be back. If the message was still relevant when I returned, I’d try to reply. In the subject field, I put “sick leave”.
It’s been quite instructive to see how PRs respond. Many – whether their information was urgent or not – didn’t send follow-ups and the best of them sent a gentle prompt yesterday. They might have seen from my social media that I was up and about on the weekend, or just shrewdly considered that after a fortnight I’d be back.
Some kind people sent good wishes or offers of treats or distractions, which was very kind (I was too zonked out to take them up on it, alas!) But it was those who kept sending the same or very similar messages, day after day after day, which I find myself thinking about. Did they not read the automated reply? Do they have such a vast database that noting responses isn’t important? Or did they just think that the health-food-related product they were pushing was really so urgent and compelling that I’d get out of bed to act upon it?
I hope it doesn’t come across as whining, but I found it particularly vexing and – of course – completely counterproductive. The product is mildly interesting if not very central to my work and certainly not time-sensitive. If a PR can’t (literally) get the message then I’m less minded to respond… ever.
We’re not expecting bouquets or an instant, tailored message when we are back from leave of any sort, but a note in the calendar to pause comms is helpful, and shows alertness.
What Lisa Thinks…
“In what we call in journalism ‘burying the lede’, this release about a new stress-relief cafe takes ages to mention the most interesting element… dogs!”