Out of Office, what does it mean?

There was a time when being out of the office meant taking a complete step away from all things work-related. Remember it? Files were paper so, unless you lugged your file cabinet around with you, they were inaccessible. Phones and fax machines were connected to the physical office space. Even with the emergence of email, you had to get to your own computer (located in your office) to read and respond to them.

Back then ‘out of office’ felt sweet if you weren’t passionate about your work, and terrifying if you were pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into it. What am I going to miss? Who could fall through the cracks? Is that person who’s covering for me going to give my clients the same dedication I do?

Nowadays, what does it mean to be out of office? You’re away from your “office,” so what? All the tech exists to get your work done, no matter where you are. Furthermore, marketing never stops in our social-media-driven marketplace, we can promote ourselves constantly if we want to. This is good! Isn’t it? Attention spans are short, and loyalty is no longer a thing (loyalty has been replaced by adherence to social responsibility-but that’s another blog topic).

Follow the 3 M’s to successfully ‘out of office’:

  1. Set mental boundaries and stick to them. Texting is the new phone call, ask yourself if it merits a phone call or an email. Most of the time an email allows your audience the time to respond when it works for them.

  2. Model the same boundaries you want from your colleagues and clients. When you decide your workday is done, turn off alerts, stop replying to messages during your non-work time, and if you can bear it, leave your phone in the other room. (Check out this study on how our phones distract us just by being near them, even when they’re on silent.)

  3. Create meaning. Give your market, clients, prospective clients, employees, and stakeholders something to hold onto that is meaningful and will remind them of your value. Pens and tote bags may seem like old news to you but, with a little creativity, you can give something they will use again and again which means they will think of you…even when you’re modeling your mental boundaries. See this if you still think in terms of the rule of 7 in marketing.

Speaking of boundaries, I’m outta here, peace!

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