Helpful Out of Office Courtesies
Frequent traveling can either be a perk of planning or a troublesome interruption depending on your preparedness. Your travels can affect not only you and your customers, but also coworkers, vendors, and others who depend on your consistent services. Some basic out-of-office courtesies can go a long way in keeping your meeting and event planning seamless during your absence.
A simple “Out of Office” auto-response is no longer an acceptable way to avoid responding to emails during business travel. In a world where we are surrounded by connectivity, those working with you will expect a reply regardless of whether or not you are in the office. If you will be offline for an extended length of time, be specific in your out of office messages. Include a time-frame during which your reply can be expected, and be sure to follow-up as promised.
“Thank you for your message. I will be traveling on August 20th and will have limited access to email. I will respond to messages by end of business August 21st. If you need an expedited response, please call my cell phone number as listed below.”
Before you leave the office, it is helpful to forward any phone numbers to your cell phone as appropriate. If you work in a corporate environment, test internal and external transfers to ensure you receive all calls. If you will not have access to your phone, change your voicemail to inform callers.
Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean your clients will forgive your delayed response. While many fellow travelers will understand your position, you should be prepared for those who need urgent responses. If you have another responsible person who can quickly assist in your absence, include their contact information in your out of office emails and voicemails as appropriate.
During travels, it can be useful to have everything you need accessible while you are mobile. Programs like OneNote or Evernote allow you to access documents from a number of devices so you can make changes or send to others as needed. Scanner apps also come in handy so you can seamlessly send back signed documents with the snap of a photo.
If you are on a true vacation and are trying to completely disconnect from technology (lucky you!), it is especially important to ensure there is another contact person empowered to make decisions while you’re away. Business needs to continue without delay from your absence. Having a secondary decision maker available will give your contacts confidence in your ability to address their immediate needs, not to mention relieve stress for you knowing there is a fully capable person available to assist.