How to be out of office, and act like it too

You’ve finally done it. After what feels like eternity, you made it through the endless cycle of the meetings (an hour of people saying the words: objectives, KPIs and touch base), standups (meetings masquerading as something edgier and inclusive), and powwows ( still meetings but take place at your desk so you can’t escape) you thought would never end.

Your freshly pedicured toes step out of the office door, onto the pavement of hope and dreams as you breathe in the freshly polluted air of freedom: because you, are about to be out of office.
You’ve set yourself a slightly salty, ‘see ya later fuckers’ out of office message that is mainly to tell Dramatic Dave in Marketing that ‘no, I am not available to do a ‘super-quick-one-that-I-forgot-to-tell-you-about-but-is-actually-urgent-but-is-easy-I-promise-but-actually-takes-up-half-a-day’ creative brief because I’m off having the time of my life on a yacht (pedalo) on the Côte D’Azur (Brighton), far far, far away from you in a distant land called Out Of Office.

It’s the dream. You set the response from now until the day you get back, which is so far in the future that the possibilities of change are endless: you might have decided to get bangs again, you might have adopted another dog or you might have even changed your entire look and return dressed as an extra from Avril Lavigne’s Sk8r Boi music video. Who knows – not you, but you do know it’s a ‘see you l8r boi’ to Dramatic Dave.

Sadly, the dream is not to be had. Bangs look terrible on you, you can’t possible have another dog let alone one because your flat is too small and having a garden is an unknown enigma that only parents have and Avril Lavigne is the only person who truly understood punk – and you’ll never be her. And to top it all off: there’s no such thing as truly being out of office anymore.

What’s happened to us? We close our laptops and switch off our desktops only to get onto the train and open up our emails on our phones. Whether it’s with fingers or with thumbs, we always seem to be checking in on our email inbox like we’re checking in on that girl who bullied you in sixth form’s instagram feed, to see if you’re doing better now than she is.

And holidays are no different either, there’s that one day where you think ‘I’ll just have a look…’ and suddenly you’re stressing because your emails are piling up and Dramatic Dave really does need your help on this one because you’re the only one who can do it the way he wants it done and he knows you’re on holiday but if there’s any chance you do see this could you possibly do it? You’re thinking about the pile of stuff you’re going to have to get through when you get back and before you know it, you’re almost hitting send.

It’s no good. We’re doomed. How are we ever supposed to enjoy a true digital detox away from work when we’re now succumbed to a fast and furious work culture of ‘everything is urgent and nothing can wait and everything is on fire’.

But have no fear, Emily is here. Here are 5 things you can do to make sure you actually do stay out of office:

1. Delete your work’s email app from your phone

Just for the week. Just get it off there. Avoid temptation and just get it gone, like when you’ve spent too much money this month and you have to delete the ASOS app so you don’t order that really expensive Whistles jacket whilst drunk.

2. Have your work colleague change your email password so that you can’t get on it

In case you can’t be trusted to not re-install the email app, just like you couldn’t be trusted with the ASOS app and still ordered that damn Whistles jacket anyway because your fourth G&T gave you the confidence to do so.

3. Leave your phone at home

Perhaps unrealistic. What else would our hand shaped claws cling onto on the sunbed by the pool?

4. Throw your work phone off the pedalo into the grey Brighton sea

More realistic. Would be a real middle finger up to Dramatic Dave. That would show him.

5. Attach your phone to the courier box of a Deliveroo cyclist

In fact, attach yourself to the box, eat the deliciously overpriced contents and let yourself whirled away through the traffic from the never ending cycle of work that consumes us all.

You know what, let’s face it – even going on holiday isn’t enough of a reason to ever truly be out of the office, is it? Dramatic Dave, you win. Please find attached the request from your creative brief, along with my soul.

Published by Emily Ash Powell

Writer of words & lover of brands.

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