THE BLOG

No More Boring Out of Office Replies!

03/18/2013 07:55 am ET | Updated May 18, 2013

I'm writing this from the beach in Hawaii where yesterday I took a moment from my vacation to compose an automatic out of office (OOO) reply. Everyone knows that we are rarely, if ever, out of the office and unavailable. When was the last time your phone didn't deliver your email almost instantaneously?

So in an effort to highlight the inane fact that we even bother to use OOO auto responders, I've become part of a growing group of folks who consistently try to one-up each other. We use humor and sarcasm to communicate the obvious- we are almost always reachable.

Most people tend to set up a boilerplate OOO auto-responder, something that reads like this:
"I am out of the office until [enter date here]. If your email require immediate attention, please contact [enter person's name here]. I will respond to your email on my return."

I think I just fell asleep. All I hear when I read that is "blah, blah, blah." It doesn't have to be that way. Have some fun with it. If the thought of being clever makes you break out into a cold sweat, outsource it and ask someone else to write it for you. That's what my good friend DJ Waldow from Waldow Social did when he recently went to Cabo with his family for a week. DJ is a great writer and if he can outsource it anyone can.

As far as I can remember, DJ was the first person to bring this growing trend to my attention. He posted (with permission) Ann Handley's OOO reply and it made me belly laugh. Ann is a writer at MarketingProfs and has a leg up on the rest of us with her clever quotient. Her latest OOO can be found on her blog.

This morning I woke up to DJ Waldow having "unofficially" voted my Hawaii OOO auto-responder THE BEST. I'm blushing. DJ might be slightly obsessed. He's collecting the "best of the best" and wants you to share yours with him. You can do so by submitting it to this form. I'm not sure what he's doing with them, maybe launching a new line of OOO wallpaper.

Here is my Hawaii OOO so you can judge for yourself:

The rumor is true. I'm in Hawaii. What does this mean for you?

• While you are sitting in a meeting, I'm sitting on the beach.
• While you are sipping stale coffee, I'm sipping an exotic blended drink.
• While you are basking in sallow skin producing florescent light, I'm being overloaded with Vitamin D.
• While you are at another boring work-out class, I'm paddle boarding in the ocean watching turtles. Or hiking to a volcano.
• While you are hanging out with your work husband / wife, I'm smooching my tall handsome boyfriend - and watching a sunset.
• And while you are eating yet another Jimmy John sandwich in a conference room, I'm scarfing up as much Hawaiian food as I can handle. And fresh Mango ice cream.

Most out of office replies just sit there and skirt the truth that someone is having fun while you're sending an email.

I accept the disappointment that you can't reach me - compounded by the fact that you slightly hate me for pointing out the obvious. While most Out of Office auto replies just hint at the nature of why someone is away, I've been brutally honest. If you are flinging something at someone's head right now, I completely understand. The truth is I'm having fun, and you are sending me a work email. But consider this, in no time at all I'll be reading your boring OOO reply and doing my own flinging. Circle of life.

So while there is nothing I can do to alleviate your current dislike of our situations, I accept it and promise to tip a Mai Tai to you!

While some might consider this way too long, those who make it through might at least get a chuckle, and these days we definitely don't laugh often enough. The other point of these is to highlight the ridiculous and obvious fact that we are too connected and plugged in, even while vacationing. I think that in some small way, people like me, DJ, and Ann are trying to get you to stop long enough to laugh, and then maybe stop a bit longer to take a breath and relax. And maybe we are not-so-subtlety telling you to buzz off during our all too precious vacation time.