As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been trying to work from home one or two days a week. I get so much more done at home. And since many of my contacts are located in different time zones around the world, my day does not start and end during "normal" work hours.
And I do make myself available almost as if I were sitting at my desk in the office. I am available on company instant messaging and email. I leave my cell phone number on my instant message status. The only things I do not do are participate personally in meetings (I am available to call in if I feel the need) and I do not answer my desk phone. Of course, I am also not available for water cooler conversations....those I miss:)
So, why am I retelling you this? Because many of my colleagues who are stuck in the office occasionally show signs of bitterness when I am not physically within their sights or at least answering my phone. Sometimes I go in after a day at home and find I have three messages from the same person whose office may be on the other side of the building. The first message asks me to call them. The next message informs me why I need to call them and lets me know that they are waiting to hear back. By the third message, they are usually a little ticked off that I have not called them back. If there is a fourth message it is usually not repeatable...
Now I am available on instant messaging and everyone in the office has access to the instant messaging service. Again, my status clearly states that I am working and available from home and can be reached via email and cell (# provided) as well. But they do not call me on my cell...why should they? They called the office phone...They do not instant message me...why should they? They called my office phone...
So I have changed my voicemail greeting:
"...You have reached my voicemail (duh). If I do not respond to your call in a respectable amount of time, it is probably because I am out of the office on PTO or working from home (and probably did not get the call; I do not ignore you just to piss you off). The best way to reach me at anytime is to send an email or an instant message."That approach has helped somewhat. Of course, there are always a few who still choose to believe that I am at home eating bon bons, watching soaps, shopping, partying, blogging (ooops), or whatever. Actually, I do have a basement full of elves that I make do all the actual work that get done when I work from home...and my laundry, toilet cleaning, dishes, cooking, etc, but that is a story for a different day (and I'd appreciate it if you could keep that between us).
And there are a few more who leave a voicemail that they will email me. They email asking me to call them. If they do not let me know why I should call them, chances are that I will answer my other higher priority emails before I call them (because by then I will get a second email telling me why I need to call them). And if I am in a meeting (via phone from home) and do not call back right away, I will probably get a third email copied to my boss and my boss's boss explaining that I am holding up company revenue and I really should get back to them. Which of course I do as soon as my meeting is ended because if have the power to hold up company revenue, I must be pretty important and I probably should act like it....
So now I am thinking that maybe I should have a response message on my email as well. I decided to try to find some ideas by doing what I do best...yeah, stumbling. Here are a few samples I came across that just might work for me:
I am currently out of the office at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Please be prepared for my mood.
You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you would not have received anything at all.
Sorry to have missed you, but I am at the doctor's having my brain and heart removed so I can be promoted to our management team.
I will be unable to delete all the emails you send me until I return from vacation. Please be patient, and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.
The email server is unable to verify your server connection. Your message has not been delivered. Please restart your computer and try sending again.
Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.
Hi, I'm thinking about what you just sent me. Please wait by your computer for my response.
I've run away to join a different circus.
I will be out of the office for the next two weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as Phillip instead of Phillipia.