Tiffany’s Message

Tiffanys Message

I was invited to speak at Morgan Lovell’s Economics of Workplace Wellbeing event last week. It was great fun and I will share some slides and thoughts from the session on here soon. For now I want to focus on one small and important thing. On the day I spoke about my belief that flow beats work life balance. Neither are achievable all the time and I think that a state of flow is preferable as it truly aids presence, your ability to be fully engaged in what you are doing, right here, right now.

One of the key ingredients for flow, is confidence. Confidence that you don’t need to be worrying about what’s happening elsewhere because you and your team have got it covered, to the extent that anyone can have. So why worry?

During the talk, I asked the audience a question, ‘How many of you take your work laptop or crackberry away with you on holiday?’ There was a gentle buzz of mildly embarrassed laughter from the crowd as we learned that 70% of the people in the room do just that. Next, I read out a beautiful example of an ‘out of office’ message I had received just a few days earlier from Tiffany:

I am out of the office on vacation. To ensure my laptop and Blackberry are not damaged by salt water, beach sand, shrimp tails and crab leg shells, they have been left at home. Therefore, I will not be checking email nor will I be answering the phone.

I return to the office Tuesday February 5 and will respond to your inquiry at my earliest opportunity.

Thank you, 

Tiffany 

Underneath Tiffany’s name was an email address for her team, so if you really couldn’t wait for her to get back from holiday and help, you had a simple way of making contact.

As I read Tiffany’s message, smiles broke out everywhere. Her note is engaging, funny and clear, and it subtly points the way toward further assistance should it be required. I think the main reasons for the smiles was a realisation that for most of us, Tiffany’s message could be our message if we wanted it to be. Let’s face it, in the overall scheme of things you’re really not that important. Except maybe to that group of people you’ve gone on holiday with, so why not be with them.

photo credit

16 thoughts on “Tiffany’s Message

      1. Natasha @StirTheSource

        Er! Crikey!!!!! Patient should have said passionate! But patient works probably even more profoundly!!

        Lots of P’s today 😉

        Reply
  1. Krisztina

    I was at that seminar – it was great.
    But this out-of office message was the biggest gift I took away from there – especially as I’m preparing to go on holiday this Friday.
    As I did not take notes during your speech, and I’m not a creative writer like Tiffany, so I went back to the organiser (thank you Tessa!) at Morgan Lovell to try and track down this message.
    So a big thank you for sharing! It made my day – but furthermore, I believe it will make the day of many of my colleagues and acquaintances who will be reading a version of this from Friday onwards when they email me. I cannot wait to see and read their responses – but only when I’m back in the office. 🙂
    I hope this catches on!

    Reply
    1. Doug Shaw Post author

      Hello Krisztina, thank you for being in touch. I can’t tell you how much of a lift your note has given me, seeing these things come around like this is hugely motivating. You didn’t need to write anything down at the time, it strikes me that you were present and engaged with what was going on in the room. Afterwards – you used your connections to make this connection and get what you wanted. Have a super holiday.

      Doug.

      Reply
  2. Simon Jones

    While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, it’s not always an option for those of us who work for themselves. I find it much more relaxing to check my phone/email for 15 minutes each day (usually while rest of family are doing something else), knowing that I’m not returning home to a major client crisis. Having my voicemail tell me that “there are no new messages” contributes more to my wellbeing than wondering what might be happening!

    Reply
    1. Doug Shaw Post author

      Hello Simon – thanks for coming by. I really appreciate you raising this point I expect many others are thinking about it too. I understand where you are coming from, and I wonder if some form of ‘contracting’ around this may help. Maybe if the family know that your perceived need is an essential ingredient to a good holiday then they and you may be very happy to make that choice. Do you think many crises are averted by this method?

      I’m keen to explore ways to push back on your challenge. Have you considered a virtual PA approach? There are good people out there who you can pay to manage the front line for you, on the basis that if something really urgent and important occurs – they can be in touch. Trust things to them and then you really don’t need to disrupt your focus from that break you’ve worked so hard for. Just a thought…

      Thanks for raising an interesting point. Doug.

      Reply
      1. Simon Jones

        A virtual PA is an option – I did have one 7-8 years ago but they weren’t able to provide holiday cover only and I couldn’t justify one outside of holiday periods.

        I’ve probably only had 4-5 urgent issues in 14 years, and vast majority of clients do understand I’m not immediately available, so it’s not a major issue – it was really the point that with increasing numbers of people working on their own there are practical issues to overcome.

        I totally agree that if I worked in a bigger organisation (i.e. more than just me!) I would do the same as Tiffany

        Reply
        1. Doug Shaw Post author

          Thanks again Simon. I agree – there are practical issues to overcome. And I’m aware of a good virtual PA company that will serve on an ad-hoc basis.

          Reply
  3. Robert Ordever

    Love the concept but who is brave enough to say ‘I am not needed’? Without top down cultural change, 24hr connectivity will remain the norm.

    Our obsession with ‘presence’ is ridiculous but engrained.

    Reply
    1. Krisztina

      Hi Robert
      I strongly disagree.
      I’m paid to do my job whitin the given hours in a week (it is stated in the contract: 37.5 hours) and entitled to amount of holidays a year. I’m not paid/rewarded to be connected 24/7.
      On the other hand I value my personal life much higher than my work life – and I am proud of that even in the face of corporate duties.
      I’m doing the job I was employed to do, with considerable success. My actions and results at work prove that I am needed within the organisation.
      So when I’m off I don’t need to be in touch with the office just to reassure myself and show everyone about my importance and “needed-ness”.
      At the end of the day, no matter how much in-touch you stay if an organisation (or individuals within) decide that you are not needed they are going to cut you off. And how will you feel then – all those precious hours on the beach or with playing with your family wasted checking emails and answering non-urgent calls and messages from an organisation doesn’t even need you…?
      My motto is “work to live, not live to work”… Full stop.

      Reply
    2. Doug Shaw Post author

      It’s time for me, you, Tiffany, Krisztina and anyone else who is motivated to do so, to un ingrain it then Robert. Thanks as always for popping by and have a great day.

      Reply
  4. Gareth Griffiths

    A COO I worked with a few years back used this out-of-office message:

    “I am out of the office from [dateA] until [dateB] and am not contactable.

    Any email or voicemail received during this period will be deleted. If you require my attention, please contact me after [dateB]. In the meantime, if anyone else can help you, please contact the team on XXX XXXX XXXX.

    Many thanks”

    I thought it was the best thing – it leaves the onus on the contacter to take action if they really think its important for the contactee to know about or action the email.

    Reply
    1. Doug Shaw Post author

      That oughta do it Gareth, thanks. Strikes me that more people need to get over themselves and check out for a proper break. Appreciate you sharing this. Cheers – Doug

      Reply

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