Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

Summary: I saw this and I must admit, I do (on the rare occasion I'm not working) try and write somewhat whimsical responses in my out of office notifier. This one tickled me, considering I know the people of the Lake District quite well:"I'm now out of the office until Monday 24th August, during which time I will be driving nearly the length of England, as I shall be starting in Poole and ending in the Lake District.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Collaboration
30

I saw this and I must admit, I do (on the rare occasion I'm not working) try and write somewhat whimsical responses in my out of office notifier. This one tickled me, considering I know the people of the Lake District quite well:

"I'm now out of the office until Monday 24th August, during which time I will be driving nearly the length of England, as I shall be starting in Poole and ending in the Lake District.  During this time I shan't be checking email or voicemail - partly due to my not wanting to check mail on holiday, and also partly due to the fact that I shall mostly be in the middle of nowhere where I fear that my phone may not get signal, or may get me investigated for witchcraft."

Email can be the bane of our lives. I will get roughly 80-100 messages through a day depending on time of the month and even the month itself. August is the epitome of dull and with the blistering heat and humidity on par with the Amazon at noon. Nobody likes to work and offices are deserted.

And for those in the southern hemisphere, even though the seasons are reversed the same seems to apply in most places. Damn you, Australia, with your Christmas Day barbecues on the beach. How I envy thee.

But nowadays the email systems we use are so in tune our lives we can't get away. As one person puts it:

"I get about 200 e-mails a day, that's more than 60,000 every year. And people have got so demanding, if you don't answer in half an hour, they're e-mailing again to say 'why haven't you replied?' and 'didn't you get my e-mail?' An out of office message stops them from freaking out - and it keeps their paranoia down to a dull roar."

In the same way that if you call someone and don't get through and just get their answering machine, you'll leave a message but will ring back just in case they missed the phone the first time you rang.

And as the out of office notification is the only way of really curbing the amount of stuff you get through (with the exception of presence aware systems), you may as well have a laugh with it.

"You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, you wouldn't have received anything at all."

"Hi, I'm thinking about your interesting e-mail. Stay right by your computer until you receive my response."

"I will be unable to delete all the unread, worthless emails you send me until I return from vacation on the 18th. Please be patient and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received."

While I am ever so tempted to put as a message rule on my Outlook, anything with "press release" gets moved to "junk mail", for the time being the occasional out of office notification will just have to suffice as the nearest equivalent to an off button.

What would you put as your out of office notification given the chance?

Topic: Collaboration

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

30 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I think the issue with email is that people dont know when to stop.

    They send me one email about one subject, then forward me an email about another, then another about something else. If they just sent me one email with questions about all three, i would have alot less email.

    The other issue is automatic emails. I typically delete them on site. They are only useful when i am on the go.

    However, i am going on vacation next week, i think i might just partake in one of funny ones.

    Something like:

    "I am currently out of the office until september 8th, i will be driving to the middle of nowhere south carolina with the hopes that all cell phone and internet access is innert. If i do get a signal and am not drunk, i might just check my email. Course that doesnt mean i will feel the urge to use the reply button."
    Been_Done_Before
  • annoying

    It's true, ppl get more and more demanding, but don't play the game, always replying to each enquiry immediately, keeps you out of the focus on the essential. Keep the replying-reading sessions for only a few times a day, always switching to email makes you dumb. I try to work on that myself.
    bluenote84149
  • In all honesty . . .

    In all honesty - I just don't publicize my email. Basically it's from work, family, maybe a mailing list, and that's about it.

    My volume is generally about one a day. I check it once a day. Everybody on my short list knows that I check it about once a day.
    CobraA1
    • .

      I believe the article is meant to refer to corporate email.

      (I'd come back from vacation to find thousands of emails, I could usually whittle it down to a dozen in about an hour, that's the percentage of emails I got that mattered...sigh)
      alexh1111
    • In all fairness....

      Only 1 email a day!
      I love it when people who don't work in an IT Department of a national company try and compare lives.
      danielaaa4
      • One a Cay is a vitamin, not e-mail

        If I opened any of my e-mail accounts and found only one message for the day, I'd end up spending the next hour trying to find out what was wrong with that particular server/connection/etc.

        Dr. John
  • Personally...

    I prefer a phone call. But hey, that's me :)
    zwhittaker
  • RE: Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

    Is that Finnish language on the picture under the english text 'No entry...'?
    Mihail.a.dimitrov
    • Finnish? or Un-Finnish?

      I believe that's the unpronouncable nightmare set of Runes known as "Welsh"...
      mikeaaaaaa11
      • No, that is Aboriginal. (Hint: the reference to Australia)

        N/T
        ccutright
    • Welsh

      The council official emailed for a translation fron English to Welsh but got an out of office message back, he took this to be the translation and passed it on to the sign writer. The Welsh had a good laugh !!!
      william_d_read
  • ooom

    This reply to your correspondence was crafted with pride by an automated response system which will continue to perform this duty with unswerving devotion and loyalty for a period of time that is yet to be defined.
    Good day.
    CraiGrrr
    • Good one! (nt)

      Good one!
      Dr. John
  • RE: Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

    Hi ,
    Best one I have ever copped back as an auto-respond:

    Thanks for your email-it's important to me.

    I am on vacation until January 15 and, due to server restrictions, all email received during that time will be automatically deleted from my account.

    Please feel free to resend the email after January 15 at which time I will attempt to respond in a timely manner.
    filthbarrel
  • RE: Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

    Hi
    My message would be.
    Sorry.....I'm out of the office right now vacationing in Pennsylvania in the heart of Amish country. I'd love to respond, however Amish high speed internet forbids any messaging faster than the speed of a horse & buggy. So by the time I receive your message, I'll be back from my vacation, at which time I'll answer your email
    Cheers!
    TaciturnSphinx
  • RE: Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

    I have 789 in my gmail right now.
    An e-mail message from ZDNet brought me here.
    It's useless cleaning up a webmail box you know.
    Yahoo! was a real pain and now Gmail isn't any better.
    I used to worry about them, the old e-mails, maybe I missed a job offer or something, but no, there was nothing. Did I not pay a bill. No, that wasn't there.
    It's just a busy, busy thing.
    Have you ever had love e-mails? Now there's a thing.
    Hopefully you have some idea of whom the love e-mail writer is and you haven't just met them at an online singles site.
    A girl who wrote me lives in Russia. She is now disappointed I won't pay what she can't to fly here.
    Isn't that something?
    EB77now
  • RE: Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

    Your message has been assigned number:

    23,487,463,728

    To be fair, all messages are answered in the order received. Your response will be entered promptly when your number comes up.
    smoqui1
    • Incomplete?

      I seem to remember having seen this one with a last line reading: Currently responding to message #491.
      DNSB
  • RE: Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

    My out-of-office message: You're here, I'm not. Goodbye!
    jsabella49
  • RE: Email paranoia and the out-of-office subculture

    i always liked this one :
    I will be out of the office for the next 2 weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as ?Loretta? instead of ?Steve?.
    carl.rasquin