The saying “Life Happens” is more realistic than most of us want to face.  An unexpected car accident, family illness or death, our ailments are the ones we hope to avoid.  Vacation, training, corporate events are some of the more welcome causes of absence.

Whatever the reason, lack of planning on your part should not constitute a loss to someone else’s day.  I know what you’re thinking… a day or two won’t matter.  I’ll still have my phone. Even when I’m not working, I’m working. You and the others around you deserve your day off!

The first step is to establish a second point of contact who you know is relatively up to speed on your job responsibilities.  They do not need to do any of your job in your absence dependent on how long you are out. They need to know how to direct others, professionally, to answers they may need, that cannot wait, in your absence. Having an absence buddy is especially important if the time you will be away is unknown. Think of them as your Public Relations Manager.

Once you know who this person or people are that will cover for you, establish in advance with them what they are empowered to provide or do. Establish how you want to be informed, email, text, reporting system, etc.… of what they did do for you.

Superintendents, daily reports need to be done daily.  Project Managers pay apps, and change orders have deadlines that affect other departments. Accounting, payroll, and payables are a company lifeline. Executives, who act on your behalf if a corporate decision can’t wait?  All of us have deadlines and work product others need to do their jobs.

Our biggest challenge when we are out is our cell phone.  Most of us use our cellphones for business and personal use.

Know how to record a new message quickly on your cell phone. Take time to record a simple message similar to this:

“This is Suzanne Breistol and today is Thursday, May 10th. I will be out of the office today. If you need immediate assistance, please call Ernesto Garcia in my absence at 305-361-0094 x 18.” If you know what date you are returning you can change to “I will be out of the office returning on May 15th. If you need assistance in my absence, call Ernesto Garcia at 305-361-0094 x 18.”

Taking time to do a recording will give you the freedom to focus on your need for the time off.  It also ensures that you will not return to people irritated with you because you didn’t return their call or offer them any direction in your absence.

Have your email auto response drafted and saved so you can quickly set it or have a co-worker set it in your absence. This can be don using the settings inside your phone mail app of on desktop. A simple message like “I am out of the office. For assistance in my absence, please contact Ernesto Garcia at 305-361-0094 x 18 or”

Thirdly, know your HR policy or how your supervisor wants to be informed.  Knowing the procedure in advance is especially important if you do not have longevity with your company. You may know your character of never taking advantage of the system, but this is construction. We get many hot heads that walk off job sites, out of offices, saying they have a family emergency with others finding out that wasn’t the case at all.   A short professional call by you or a family member to your supervisor or HR, if you can’t personally see them before you leave, adds credibility and eliminates doubt and builds the future relationship.

Over the years too often I have heard of individuals that had to up and leave due to an unexpected incident.  Usually when I hear of those events the person sharing the occurrence is emotionally touched, yet dependent on the severity talking through how it is affecting them and others in the meantime as life goes on even when “Life Happens.”

Plan your absence before you are absent.  You will help others for that day and the unknown days that might come and in coming back earn more favor.

Below are the instructions to help you set up an auto-response in Gmail, Outlook and on your Smartphone.


Out of the office blog

On iPhone:

Important: Only Exchange accounts support the automatic reply feature on the iPhone’s Mail app.
  1. Go to Settings >> scroll down, then tap Accounts & Passwords.
  2. Tap the Exchange email account you want to set the automatic reply from.
  3. Scroll down until you see “Automatic Reply” then tap it.
  4. Toggle the Automatic Reply switch to “On.”
  5. Once it’s on, you can specify the End Date and type in an Away message. You can also turn on External Away Message for emails sent outside your company’s Exchange server.

On Android:

  1. Open your Mail app and select your Exchange email
  2. Tap the Menu button then select “More”
  3. Tap “Out of Office”
  4. Your phone will then retrieve your Out of Office settings from your Exchange Server

Click on image for instructions

Out of the office blog photo 3

Click on image for instructions

out of the office blog photo 2

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