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Is there no such thing as "out of office" ?

Remember the days when an auto response that read "out of office" meant that the person was going to be completely unavailable?

Those days are long gone, aren't they?

Today,I got the "out of office" response from someone I desperately needed to reach. I waited. Patiently.

And, a few minutes ago, an email arrived from that person with the information I needed.

I'm noticing that with today’s devices, it's increasingly impossible to really be out of the office and out of touch. It's as if out of office no longer means, "Get lost, I am on a cruise with my family and I am soaking up the sun. I'll respond in five days." Instead, it now  means "You might not hear from me instantly, but I'll get back to you back to you by tomorrow."

If you're like me, you no long believe "out of office" status any more. With that option disappearing, how are any of us really going to disconnect?

Richard Moran, CEO of Accretive Solutions writes: "My advice is when you need to take a break, post the out of office status but add the word REALLY. Maybe it will work and your health, both mental and physical will thank you. Or, only take vacations in places where there is no Internet access. If you can find one."

I've been on Spring Break this week and I didn't even bother to turn on my "out of office" status. I just checked in periodically and dealt with the email I felt needed to be tended to right away. I guess that's what others do, too.

So, now we all know the sad reality  "out of office" is a lie. If we really plan to disconnect maybe we need to get more specific and try something like this:" I'm not going to be reading or replying to any emails until a given date."

Or, maybe we just need to work harder at setting boundaries and rethink our expectations of others.

How do you react when you get an out of office response? Do you still expect a quick reply?