Set the OOO

high angle view of lying down on grass


Many of my clients take pride in how much they work, how hard they work, and how dedicated they are to their careers. In fact, they choose to show that dedication by never setting the OOO – out of office message on their emails and voice mails. Their reasoning is that they want to send a message to clients, prospective clients, and team members that they are available 24/7 to handle every crisis that might occur.

How often does a crisis actually occur? What kinds of emails, calls, and messages do my clients actually receive when they are on vacation? Do my clients only respond to the messages that are urgent, or do they reply to everything? These are questions that only the individual can answer. I have had a number of conversations on this subject matter and found that most people feel they are never fully away from their work.

Looking as if you are never away from work creates an image that can create dangerous practices. How far is the leap to actually never spending time away from work? The danger comes from projecting an image that is impossible to maintain and ignoring signs of fatigue and burnout.

While clients and team members do want immediate attention during a crisis, they also want to know the people who serve them. Developing strong relationships with your customers and team includes being human and making space for others to be human too.

Never setting your out of office message is a form of communication. You may be sending some unintentional messages, such as:

  • Everything is important to you.
  • You do not have a team capable of filling your shoes when you are out.
  • Team members may believe you do not trust them.
  • You do not have boundaries.
  • Your work is your life.

Equally important, setting the OOO can be used to send positive messages and build relationships.

  • You value your health.
  • Your team is outstanding and can be trusted.
  • You know the difference between urgent, important, and routine.
  • You are a fully-rounded person with a life outside of work.

Finally, using OOO can present opportunities to promote charities that are important to you and to show support for people who are important to you. For example,

  • I am out of the office today volunteering for ____. I will return your message tomorrow. If this is urgent, please contact _____ who is handling my workload today.
  • I am enjoying the week with my family. I will be back ____. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to the people below who are covering my work.
  • I am spending today with a client. Etc.

Planning your out of office time is as important as planning your day in the office. What messages do you want to send? What image do you want to project? Think it through, and then enjoy the time away being fully present no matter where you are.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

Published by Mary Balistreri

Mary Balistreri offers a variety of coaching and professional development services to individuals and organizations focused on harnessing strengths to develop more business. Mary’s approach is goal driven, focusing on measurable results and developing actionable plans to move past obstacles that hold individuals, teams, and organizations back from executing on the plan. Mary offers expertise in business development, team building, and leadership development coupled with strategies to improve conversational and emotional intelligence to support clients moving toward their goals and aspirations.

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