How freelancers can cope with email on holiday

With fresh research showing more than 70% of small, independent business people still sneak in work while they are meant to be on holiday, it seems timely to ask: Just how in touch should freelancers be on their summer or winter jaunt? Put another way, says Kay White of Way Forward Solutions, when you’re “Out of the Office” on a vacation, how “Out” of the office are you?

Ready the AIG formula

The best-practice answer for freelancers is always a simple-to-follow formula – Acknowledge/Inform/Guide. It’s a straightforward and safe way to show your clients, contacts and colleagues how professional, helpful and thoughtful you are. You are, aren’t you?!

Let’s assume you’ve decided to handle being away from your client, office or workspace by taking one of the three following approaches to your business-related messages:

  • You will read your emails regularly while you’re away, twice a day
  • Someone will read your emails for you and then sort out the ones you need to read when you return; or
  • You will read all your emails once a day, but only when you return from your morning and afternoon activity at the beach

Holiday Mode 1 - Reading your emails regularly

  • Firstly, Acknowledge: “Thanks for your message and I’m away from the office until August X.”
  • Secondly, Inform:“I will be reading and responding to my emails in the meantime and will do this twice a day.”
  • Then, Guide:“If your message is urgent and you need immediate assistance, please email John Smith, Title, who will help you.You can email him at xxx or call him on xxx. Thanks again.”

Holiday Mode 2- Someone reads and sorts your email

  • Acknowledge: “Thanks for your message and I’m away from the office until August X.”
  • Inform:“My colleague, John Smith, Title, will be accessing my emails during my absence and will make sure any which need immediate attention are handled.”
  • Guide:“If you want to speak to John Smith or call him direct while I’m away, he can be contacted at xxx or you can call him on xxx. Thanks again.”

Holiday Mode 3 - Read all emails daily and once, when you return

  • Acknowledge:“Thanks for your message and I’m out-of-the-office at the moment.”
  • Inform:“I will return to the office again on August X and in the meantime I have limited access to my emails.”
  • Guide: “If you require immediate assistance, please contact John Smith,Title, who will be happy to help you. You can email John Smith on xxxor call him direct on xxx. Thanks again.”

No matter which Holiday Mode you choose, there’s always a balance to achieve and you alone must weigh up how your emails impact on your time away.There’s always a rub, even when you’re equipped with the AIG formula!

Managing expectations – at Home & Away

With Holiday Mode 1 - you read emails regularly and respond to them while you’re away, agree with yourself that you’ll read and reply for a set period of time, say an hour, every day at the same time.Plans can then be made around those timings, allowing you to tell people with certainty when you could next get back to them.Managing the expectations of those at home - as well those travelling alongside you, is therefore achievable.

Whichever Holiday Mode suits you, discussing how you intend to respond before you depart for Monaco or Magaluf will make it easy for affected parties to understand the type of communication they will receive. Giving a heads-up to your client and contacts also lets you get on with your holiday unfazed. Trying to do it between trips, transfers and tours just becomes stressful!

This quote from George de Wilde sums up my underlying reasoning: “Time for work – yet take much holiday, for art’s and friendship’s sake”.In other words, putting a bit of structure in place will set you free and after all, everyone needs some time to recharge their batteries, so lean into an inspiring holiday; art and friendships - and a managed inbox too.

Article, reproduced with permission, by Kay White, communications expert and mentor at www.wayforwardsolutions.com . Kay shows professionals how to get quicker more profitable results and build stronger connections by becoming a more effective, influential and savvy communicator. Kay’s first book, The A to Z of Being Understood is a Number 1 Amazon Bestseller for Customer Service.

 

 

 

 

 

31st August 2011

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