Out of office is out of office

Every month we send out our CX Greetz. CX Greetz is the name of my monthly CX newsletter, and it's based on how I always round up my emails. I'll end with "happy greetz" instead of "sincerely" or whatever you might write there. While we send it to my community of over 2,200 interested people, we also get a lot of out-of-office messages.

Some make me frown: "I'm out of the office right now, when I come back all emails will be deleted, so please resend it on date x". Some make me laugh: "I'm busy watching Christmas movies, see you later", and some make me spontaneously cringe: "I'm on vacation for the next three weeks, but if you really want to reach me, please send me a text."

No. No. No. Of course, this comes across as very helpful and benevolent, but you certainly don't help yourself with that. Let's take a closer look at one such situation: a colleague decides that he needs you for something very important. He texts you and asks for your help and refers to an email he sent you.

You're sitting on the beach with your partner and maybe even with your kids. It's sunny, you drink a cocktail and the sushi is brought within twenty minutes. Your phone makes the text message: "Hi, this is work!" Just when you were supposed to enjoy some mental and physical relaxation.

Because you have a strong sense of responsibility, you open your email and read the message your colleague sent. You answer his question. And now you're at it, so you read all the other emails at the same time. Your partner asks what you're doing and you grumble about coworkers who apparently can't live without you. You see all kinds of things where you are needed. Somehow, the atmosphere and energy has changed.

Believe me, holidays are holidays. You have to be clear: if you're gone, you're gone. Make sure colleagues can manage what needs to be managed. It's only when you're back that you're really back in the office. Because as soon as you start responding to emails and text messages, people think you're available and you've created your own misery.

Make a clear out of office, mentioning who you can contact during your absence, because you are not available right now. Now it's up to you to trust your colleagues to run the place when you're not around. And, of course, to change your voicemail and your WhatsApp profile text.

I think back to my own experience, when I took my laptop with me during my first hiking stage. While I was helping a number of clients and answering emails, they thought I would also answer the questions that came out of that email. Every night I found myself having to open my laptop to check emails. And not only that, every night I sat with work thoughts that stuck in my head. Because I also use WhatsApp in a business context, I then changed my profile text to "Walking pilgrim's path -> date X". When people texted me, I sent them a request to send an email instead and I mentioned that my assistant would take care of it since I was on a pilgrimage. And not at all surprising; Everyone understood!

We humans need mental rest. Time away from the office like vacations, or like I've done, walking a pilgrim path. These are perfect moments for a mental reset. To create the ideal setting, you need to be clear to the outside world. Create boundaries and set the tone. Holidays are Holidays. Not even a little work, not one email.

During the later stages of my pilgrimage, I didn't have my laptop with me, but I also instructed my team in a better way. "Manage all customer emails and requests yourself. I believe in you and when I get back, I'll be fully rested and energized enough to get all the work done again." That was clear to everyone. Mental peace for me and my trust in them made them feel like the company was in safe hands.

Believe me. Clarity and acting on it paves the way. Out of office is out of office.

This blog is from my latest book 'CX is a pilgrimage – 50 strategies to spice up your leadership'. The book will be published at the end of September 2022.