Out of office

An “Out of Office” message is the automated response to an incoming e-mail telling people that the recipient is presently absent from work. Normally this means physically absent; very rarely will an employee use such an automated response, if he has just written a wall post informing his 2,797 Facebook “friends” of some nasty incident or when perusing stimulating sites for his dreams that night.

And that’s good, because otherwise statistical feedback from our newsletter, with a distribution of around 27,000, would show that, as a rule, 13 to 17 percent of Germans are, for some reason or other, being paid but are physically absent from work, but possibly only about 92% are physically present and being paid.

Such automated responses are generally revealing. They tell us who is currently on vacation, who is gallivanting round the world on business or even which service providers are closed and to the delight of their customers are “shutting up shop” for a few weeks’ holiday.

If you are on maternity leave, too, you can share the fact with the world through an “out of office” message. In Asia, people are constantly surprised to find such maternity messages being increasingly sent by men in Germany, which leaves us somewhat confused. In Asia, you see, mothers are still predominantly women. For us such a thing would almost certainly be seen as an exception and would almost always, and immediately, be rewarded with the post of Minister for Families.

Incidentally, and apparently, some people are already struggling with their absence even before it actually reaches the physical phase. This is revealed by messages such: “I’m just about over the worst and don’t wish to be disturbed on holiday. I’ll respond to your e-mail when I’m back on the 16th of next month”. Well, let me rejoice with you, Mr. Fireman and Mr. Sales Manager! We’ll just let things burn and happily wait here with our order until you are back. Best regards, Your (absent under orders).