At the beginning of September, I decided to turn my ‘out of office’ auto-reply on for the whole month. Here’s what it said:
Thanks for your email. I’ll get to it during my morning ‘internet ablutions’ (as William Gibson would put it).
If you need a quicker response than asynchronous communication can provide, please do consider one of the following (in order of preference):
Current timezone: BST (GMT +1)
This was actually more for my benefit than for anyone else’s. It gave me a way to internalise that I don’t need to fret about emails at all hours of the day. Working for a geographically-distributed organisation like Mozilla can have huge performative issues if you’re not disciplined with your time.
So what did I learn?
- People will seek you out if they need you urgently. But that only happened a couple of times and it was resolved quickly via Skype chat.
- Colleagues respect work/life balance more than I tend to assume. If it’s 9pm in the UK then they don’t tend to expect an immediate answer.
- Some issues resolve themselves if you don’t answer straight away.
- Email is a chore to many people. Quite a few people expressed solidarity.
It’s certainly been eye-opening to me. I’ve taken my auto-responder off now (I don’t want to abuse it) but I’ll be employing it again during my impending Belshaw Black Ops.
Image CC BY Esparta