3 reasons you shouldn’t use out of office emails

Mailbutler looks into the reasons why you shouldn't use out of office emails when you're away, and offers some better solutions.

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    By James

    James has five years' experience as a Content Marketer, bylines on Left Foot Forward, Submittable, and INOMICS, and a Master's in History. In his free time he likes to read, play guitar, and write for his personal blog.

    If you still haven’t decided on whether out of office (OOO) emails are good, here are a few things you should consider. For how long are you away? What about your company? How available is it? Are the OOO emails really necessary? Is there any risk when sending out these messages?

    No one really wants to get their inbox filled with automated out of office replies (OOOR), especially not with those that are sent just for the sake of sending one. So what’s the purpose of using OOO emails when the sent information does nothing for the email receivers, but rather annoy them?

    Below are some of the most relevant thoughts to keep in mind for why you shouldn’t use out of office emails.

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    1. You are unavailable just for a short period of time

    Going away for a couple of days (or even hours) is not that strong of a reason for you to start sending out of office emails. Such replies will do no good, and will only irk people. Think of receiving an OOOR when the email sender is away just for the day delivering a keynote talk, or when they are in a meeting. Would that be of any interest for you? I highly doubt it. Sending an OOO message for short periods of unavailability comes across as unprofessional. Shutting down or limiting all communication for a few days is not considered less professional, but sending unnecessary OOOR most certainly is.

    2. It’s not fitting for your company

    Out of office emails are standard for businesses, but ask yourself: is external communication important for your company? If the answer is yes, then you should consider not using OOO emails. They can harm your business and create an overall bad experience for the customer.

    Imagine someone is working in customer support, leaves for 2 weeks, and starts sending out OOOR. Would you as a customer be satisfied with that company’s services? I would assume no. This unpleasant experience might reflect badly on the company and scare customers away. Knowing they have problems and there is no one in the whole company taking care of them could make them rethink their decision of using the services provided by that company.

    For example, at Mailbutler, the info email address is shared by multiple employees, meaning that when one team member is unavailable, another person can take over their incoming communication. Finding a replacement to manage incoming inquiries for employees on vacation or for those away for work purposes ensures your customers have a pleasant experience with your company.

    Of course, for a single person company who is not available for more than two days, it is recommended to let clients know that during this time support cannot be provided. In this case, there is no other way than to use out of office emails.

    3. Out of office emails can be bad for security

    There is also the issue of security. If you have any contact information (e.g. email address, work and phone number, supervisor contact info) or your signature added to the out of office reply, it could help scammers piece together elements needed for identity theft. When your auto-reply is turned on and someone sends you a message, your mail server will send the OOOR back to the spammers, confirming that your email address is a valid one. In turn, they will get confirmation that their spam reached a real live target. Your address will likely be added to other spam lists as a confirmed hit.

    By replying that you are on vacation at [location] and coming back at [date] you are offering vital information to othersBy admitting that, some might even make a move either by breaching your home or even your company. Imagine letting people know that everyone in the company is away for one week during the holidays. Or that your family is not at home because you are flying out for a two weeks vacation. This information may help others to break into your company or home and steal things of value. Better be safe than sorry! No out of office emails, no risks.

    If you want to avoid putting yourself at risk and avoid creating an unpleasant experience for your customers, it’s better talk to one of your colleagues to see if they can take over your external communication while you are gone. Of course, if you are away for a longer time of period and no one can take care of your emails, then you’ll need an out of office email. But keep in mind when composing your OOO message that strangers, spammers, and scammers may see and crawl your automated OOOR. Don’t put any personal info (e.g. phone number, address, name, etc.) in your email if you normally wouldn’t give it to strangers.

    Out of Office Emails Summed Up

    There are a lot of reasons to not use out of office emails: security threats, irrelevance for your company, and the simple fact that they aren’t necessary. But on the other hand, there are situations when an OOO message is really needed. So, if you really have to send out of office emails and are not exactly sure how, check this article which will guide you through the dos and don’ts of writing out of office replies. If you want to send OOOR emails, at least send good ones.

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    Comments (2)

    1. If you are in a client facing role (especially at a consulting firm), Out of office messages are an important tool if you properly use them.

      Indeed you can tell all your client contacts who to direct issues, questions, etc to but it’s fairly common for those folks to “miss” or forget about those kinds of messages. Plus, they will need to remember the dates as well? An out of office is a brief reminder as well as guidance on who someone can go to if they cannot await your return.

      24 Jan 2019
    2. CJ,
      You push the action caused by *your* absence to the *client*. That sounds wrong. Have a delegate watch and prioritize your mail and you give the customer a better service while at the same time avoiding the security risks OoO messages imply.

      18 Apr 2019