Devin Bambrick

5 minutes

Going OOO? Treat It Like a Launch.

While remote work and flexible schedules have become the new reality for many, nothing beats good, old-fashioned off-the-grid time for rebuilding motivation and morale.

​​​But how can you truly enjoy your well-deserved pool time when you’re preoccupied with the state of inbox? If you think like a marketer, you may be able to prevent some of the Back-to-Work Scaries surrounding your departure. 

​​​​Here are five tips to help you raise awareness, foster team member independence, and soften the landing of your return. 

​​​​1. Tell ‘Em. Then Tell ‘Em Again. 

​Don’t wait until the day before your departure to announce your impending PTO. Whether you’re heading to a nine-day Tulum rave or just laying low on a staycation with your cats, start teasing your time off the moment you get it approved. Start with some word-of-mouth marketing, dropping your plans into casual conversations, Slack channels, and check-ins. Place a prominent (or provocative!) calendar hold. And gently remind your team whenever they’re scheduling deadlines that might conflict with your plans. If you do this persistently enough, your colleagues may be thrilled to see you go. 

2. ​​Go Wild on That Email

​​​Internal work emails don’t get the love they deserve. While most people assume their carefully crafted messages will be dutifully read by each and every recipient, the truth is that work inboxes are where you really need to fight for attention. Here are a few ideas to put some mustard on your next vacation proclamation. 

  • ​​Formal Invention. Our Account Manager Brad Stiles is a champion in this department. He announced his honeymoon with an ultra-corporate “Inter-Office Memorandum” that ensured us that “no shareholder value will be lost.” In July, he issued a Declaration of Vacation (“A decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the conditions and coverage which allow them to enjoy a temporary separation”) to delegate responsibilities during his trip to Washington DC.
  • ​​Bonus Content. Outlining his family vacation, our dear Senior Strategist Harry Mitchell provided a semi-definitive ranking of his uncles and aunts. 
  • ​​Paint the Picture. Before her voyage on the Halcyon Galactic Star Cruiser, Senior Strategist Amanda Plumb sent an OOO email peppered with quick-and-dirty photoshops, plenty of Star Wars puns, and an in-universe explanation for her lack of communication (“My data plan doesn’t cover intergalactic calls.”)

3. ​​Manage Expectations

​​Something I love to see in an automated OOO reply is an explicit window for turnaround time. While the insistent and unreasonable might expect a reply within the first working hour of your return, we know that’s unrealistic. Give yourself the grace of a few days by saying something like “I will be catching up with and responding to emails on the 14th and 15th of August. If you don’t hear from me by the 16th, feel free to poke me again!”

​​4. Go Multiplatform

​​Alright. I’ll admit a dirty secret: I’ve got thousands of unread emails. And they aren’t all offers on Outdoor Voices spandex. To be fair, most of them are calendar invites. But some of them are from my colleagues. I’m not an absentee communicator! I can be reached within seconds on Slack at most hours of the day. Want to reach your audience? Meet them where they are and paste your OOO content in Teams, Slack, or wherever your colleagues are most likely to be attentive. 

5. ​​Send a BIO Email

​​​All hail the Back-In-Office Email! You’ve indulged. You’ve rested. You’ve forgotten what day of the week it was. But now that you’re back, start on the right foot by re-establishing communication, sharing an anecdote or fact from your sojourn, and making a joke about needing a vacation from your vacation. Here’s a real pro-tip: write 80% of this in advance and drop in a photo at the last minute to keep your vacay homework-free. Welcome back, champ.