Have automated “I’m out of the office” email replies become meaningless? The answer may be yes. A lot of workers complain about getting business emails on vacation. Even though their automated email reply clearly states they’re not reachable. Or, people will see your “away message” – and assume that means they should text your personal phone instead – or send emails to your personal account. So why don’t people respect us when we say we’re “out of the office and unreachable?” 

  • First, because they know we’re lying. 72-percent of us check our email on vacations and sick days. That’s why our coworkers and clients expect to hear back. We’ve trained them to ignore our “out of office” message.

  • So, one way to make your “out of office” emails more meaningful is to tell your clients and coworkers that your work devices will be powered down. If you can’t see the message light blinking on your BlackBerry, you won’t start answering emails while you’re supposed to be on vacation.

  • Then: Become a “delete freak.” Lauren Young is an editor at the financial website Thomson Reuters. And she says she can’t possibly answer all the emails that arrive while she’s out of the office. So, her automatic reply message says something like:  “To avoid being overwhelmed, I’ll be deleting ALL of the emails that come in while I’m on vacation. So, if it’s important, please re send it after I get back.”  

  • And lastly, get over yourself. Leslie Perlow is a Harvard Business School professor and the author of “Sleeping With Your Smartphone.” And she says the biggest reason WHY we respond to email while we’re gone is because we want to feel IMPORTANT! We’re worried if we’re out of the loop, we won’t be missed and everyone will get by just fine without us. And the truth is, they will. So get over it. Take a real vacation. And if your job isn’t waiting for you when you get back – it’s not because you didn’t check your Blackberry enough. It’s because of how you behaved the other 51 weeks out of the year.