Out of office auto-reply and when it gets ignored

During pretty much every vacation since my first Europe trip in the summer of 2011, I always check email while I am out of the office, even if it’s just for one day. I learned my lesson that trip: I was out 2.5 weeks, and I was inundated with emails and inane requests when I returned. I didn’t feel fully settled back into work until two months later, which was the worst feeling ever. I respond to things that I think are easy or urgent, but for the most part, I let my backup respond for me. Or, in some cases, when customers are being jerks, they don’t contact my backup and just wait for me to respond when I get back. And I really, really hate this.

I’m not sure why customers do this. When I let them know I will be out, and I tell them who my backup is, some of them just really do not get it and think, oh, it’s okay! Yvonne will respond when she returns, so she can still help us! What this ends up creating is a huge back log of requests (that came from ONE specific customer, mind you) that ended up taking several hours on this Labor Day holiday for me to take care of. I knew if I didn’t work on these requests today that I’d have to work late to catch up tomorrow, and I hate working late. I’m beyond that point in my career that I have zero motivation to work beyond 5 or 6pm on a regular workday unless I’ve actually chosen to procrastinate on something.

It’s been said that there is a special place in hell for women who do not support other women. Well, there is also a special place in hell for customers who do not respect their partners’ time off and give them work to do even BEFORE they return to the office.

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