OOO No, They Didn't
Out of Office email stans Todd Shimkus and Marcella Hammer are fiercely against the boring, copy-and-paste variety.
When you’re at a job that sends out as many emails as a media company does (guilty), then you’re at a job that’s on the receiving end of massive amounts of Out of Office (OOO) emails. Which is where I found myself this week, after the infamous crossroads when the end of track season coincides with Labor Day Weekend, a long weekend from which—if you saw my email inbox right now—you might guess that virtually no one returns from.
Of course these auto-generated, digital nuggets go to what is technically a separate email box, but
sometimes it’s fun to you still have to comb through it—for the occasional reply that needs to be addressed, or a non-working email that’s triggering something odd in the software. And some clever, hysterical OOOs naturally catch your eye, putting the boring ones like I would write to shame.
Admittedly, I very infrequently write an OOO email myself, let alone a boring one. Luckily I found two OOO masters—Todd Shimkus and Marcella Hammer—to explain to me the error of my ways.
“Traditional out of office replies just feel lazy to me,” says Todd Shimkus, the esteemed president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce who enjoys letting loose a little in his OOOs. “Before I go away now, I try to schedule time in my final day before I leave to craft one.” He even credits Saratoga’s creative spirit: "This is something I started in Saratoga, because here I have always felt like you can be creative, take risks, and that people appreciate unique experiences.”
Marcella Hammer, resident unicorn and COO of Palette Community, uses her auto-responders—which are always on—as a subtle rallying cry against a society that expects immediate replies.
“When you own a business or operate with a small team, there's a lot of pressure to answer any inquiry or question immediately,” she says. “It’s an always-on, always-available way of being. But my day-to-day OOO lets a sender know that their email has been received and it will be answered—the ‘when I'm good and ready’ is implied.”
Marcella even takes special care with her subject lines.
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