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It can be very frustrating to send an email or leave someone a voicemail with an urgent message and get no response. This happens frequently in the summer when many people take time off from work to be with their families and friends. Below is a quick guide of the generally agreed upon protocol that should be followed to let others know you will be away, before abandoning your cubicle.

Set up an automated out of office message on your phone and email. Information that should be included in this message is the dates you will be gone, whether or not you will have access to voicemail or email while you are away. Remember that this out of office message is for work, and keep it professional.

It is important to provide some, but not too much detail in your out of office message. To avoid confusion use exact dates rather than stating that you are gone ‘until next week.’ Also be careful when using numbers. 7/1/11 is read differently in England than the United States so you will want to use July 1, 2011 instead. For personal security you do not want to reveal too much. Avoid stating any information that will imply that you may be out of town. It’s also a good idea to place a post-it note on your phone to remind yourself to deactivate your automated out of office messages as soon as you return.

Do remember to include the contact information of a person to whom questions can be directed during your absence. Make sure you let your contact person know that you are directing inquiries to them so that they won’t be caught off guard. It is helpful to give a copy of important files related to your pending or ongoing projects to your contact so that they can actually provide helpful information to your clients/customers. Clean your desk and place other information that coworkers might need in brightly colored, clearly labeled files in an easy to spot location. A short list of the contents of each folder will encourage coworkers to replace anything they remove or copy, and also allow you to easily spot if anything's missing when you return.

Finally, leave a physical notice on your bulletin board or whiteboard for anyone who may drop by your desk and inform those who sit near you that you will be gone. You would not want a co-worker to drop off important information because they mistakenly assumed you were simply at lunch or on break.


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