Thursday, March 31, 2011

Office - Office: Out of Office

It is a much frowned upon setting to be used on one’s mail box. To most bosses it is reminder of the pre-liberalization era when offices would run empty at the slightest pretence and enthusiastic young talent (such as them) would be left with a sense of despair. To reportees it symbolizes more work accompanied by a heightened sense of the ‘corporate coolie’ feeling. Little wonder then that corporate India choose to ignore any message containing “Out of Office” as a phrase.

Irrespective of how long or short your Out of Office message is or how precise or convoluted its contents, there will always be some people who would claim ignorance of having seen it. How else do you explain this response: “Someone has accidentally switched on your out of office (setting). Turn it off. Better still call IT Helpdesk and disable that setting permanently.”

Why would “someone” play such a prank? So one replies saying, “It is no accident. I am on leave.” A statement like this will open up a tsunami of responses ranging from the simple “I KNOW” in bold font size 32 all Capitals to the seemingly innocent “Turn it Off. It is flooding my Spam folder,” to the utterly bewildering “How cute! So when are you sending me that completed excel sheet?”. One overzealous boss actually deleted all such messages without even opening them. Her assistant had told her to delete any message that was repetitive and looked phishy.

Having a smart phone only compounds the misery. You end up receiving such rebukes on email and SMS. So how can one tackle these insensitive bombardments?

Next time you set an Out of Office message, change the subject line to “VIRUS ALERT!” and type the following in the body text “This email ID is virus infected. Do not send emails until further notice. Signed – IT Help Desk.” If there is one thing corporate India fears, it is data corruption/ data loss.