June 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 2
Don’t forget your contacts before you go on vacation

Summer has begun and so has vacation season.

Chances are, you have been the victim of an unanswered voicemail or e-mail message at one time or another. We’ve all been frustrated by people who won’t return our calls or e-mails only to find out later that they were out of the office.

Perhaps others have been frustrated by your lack of a response.

Don’t let your contacts assume that you are ignoring their messages. With a little planning you can quickly and efficiently respond or re-route those important messages.

If you plan to be out of the office for an extended period, follow these suggestions for proper voicemail and e-mail etiquette.

Let people know you’re out

The first step is to let people know you’re out. That means changing your outgoing voicemail message and creating an auto-response for your e-mail.

Information that should be included in any voicemail message or e-mail auto-response includes:

  • The beginning and ending dates of your absence.
  • A message that lets your contacts know you’ll answer messages when you return.
  • The name, contact information, and office hours of someone to contact if they require immediate assistance. Of course, be sure to check with your co-worker first before providing his or her information.

For those who call

How you handle calls while you are away will depend on the procedures for your particular office. And the process will vary depending on the model of your phone.

First, you can forward your phone to voicemail. If you can do this, make sure to include the information listed above. If you’re going to be out of the office, change your outgoing message. If you don’t, then your callers don’t know you’re gone and will expect you to call right back that day, not when you get back in a few days.

If voicemail isn’t an option, forward your phone to an appropriate, available co-worker. Callers should reach an individual who can assist them immediately and have the option to be put through to your voicemail.

For those who e-mail

To respond to e-mail messages while you away, be sure to create an automatic reply using Outlook’s Out of Office Assistant. Again, you should provide the sender with information listed above — in Outlook, go to the Tools menu and select, “Out of Office Assistant.”

If you don’t have Outlook on your computer (or if you forgot to set it up before leaving the office), you can create an auto-reply using Outlook Web Access (OWA). After logging in, click on “Options,” change the auto-reply, then make sure to click on “Save and Close.”

But remember, because of SPAM filters and the blacklist (a database of known SPAM sources) out of office e-mail replies go only to senders with a Purdue e-mail address.

Finally, don’t forget to change or remove your messages once you return to the office. Unless you want to extend your vacation!

Christine Strawsma, cstrawsm@purdue.edu.

Do you want On Target to cover a topic that interests you? E-mail your ideas to Kevin Leigh Smith.