After working for three years, today I realized the importance of Out of office reply. (Yeah, yeah, don’t stare at me, at least I learnt it today.)
I am getting into a new project and I need to talk to a lot of people to get details on this. I usually send a mail and wait for some hours or a day, depending on the urgency of the matter. When the person does not reply within my timeout period, I pick up the phone and call. More often than not, that person would be sitting on my email, and once I call, they know it is priority work and they finally give me what I want from them. I have been through this cycle for more than two weeks and I have used this strategy with 4-5 people successfully.
The same thing happened yesterday. I shot out a mail to a person from whom I need details. Without this information, I can’t proceed. I sent out a mail at 5, which is quite late by normal standards, so I gave him the benefit of doubt and decided to wait till the next day. I come in today and see no response. He might come in late to work, I thought, so decided to wait for one more hour. When I didn’t get a response till 11 (waiting for two hours), I lost my cool. I started cursing that person under my breath and called him names like irresponsible and uncooperative and what not. With the same curse words on my lips, I picked up the phone and called that person. His colleague (yeah, we share phones between four people here.) picked up the phone and informed me that the hunted person was on leave. For two weeks.
I deflated like a balloon and thought about the whole incident. If that person had enough sense to set an Out of office reply, I wouldn’t have wasted 4 hours waiting for his response, wouldn’t have lost my temper, wouldn’t have raised my blood pressure and wouldn’t have committed the sin of calling him names. (Yeah, he probably deserved them partially for not setting the Out of office reply)
Lesson learnt: Next time you wander off to bask in sunny beaches or sweat it off on a trek, remember that little friend of yours – Out of office reply.