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Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-your-away-messages-to-yourself dept.
AmiMoJo writes Sure, you can set an out-of-office auto-reply to let others know they shouldn't email you, but that doesn't usually stop the messages; you may still have to handle those urgent-but-not-really requests while you're on vacation. That's not a problem if you work at Daimler, though. The German automaker recently installed software that not only auto-replies to email sent while staff is away, but deletes it outright.
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Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

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  • It's not annoying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwfischer (1919758) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:52AM (#47694053) Journal

    Out Of Office = "I'm not going to get a timely reply"

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:54AM (#47694075) Journal
    Email's strength is that it is asynchronous. I send CC emails to people that I know are not available because I want them to read it when they get back, so they aren't totally clueless as to what happened while they were out scuba diving or whatever.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:58AM (#47694099)

    I let physical mail pile up and then deal with it when I get back. Ditto electronic mail. Just tell people when you'll be away and that you won't be checking during that time. The only people who get annoyed by this tend to be the sort of people who deserve to be irritated anyhow.

    And unlike physical mail you don't have to worry about the accumulation tipping off burglars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:03AM (#47694129)

    You don't have to check it while you are on vacation. You can actually ignore it.

    So why delete what could be important communication? Just deal with it when you are back in the office.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:04AM (#47694137)
    1) Daimler-Benz doesn't exist any more.
    2) "Model S" isn't a model that was ever produced by Daimler-Benz or Daimler AG.
    3) 500 cars isn't very many and would merely be a drop in the bucket compared to how much money Daimler AG has.
    4) Daimler AG has more than one person working for them.
    5) Sane people make money to live their lives, not the other way around.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:07AM (#47694177)

    The problem with this is that email tends to get massively backed up when people like you think that you can do that. You end up sending one, two, three or more while they are away...and so does everyone else because you think they can just "handle it" when they get back.

    Have some respect. You can wait until the person returns to work to send them messages.

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:29AM (#47694317) Homepage

    Have some respect. You can wait until the person returns to work to send them messages.

    My world should not stop because you chose to get off. And waiting until the person gets back is far worse - they are going to be flooded by all the emails which nobody sent while they were out. Far better to be able to triage what came in while you were away at your own pace.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:35AM (#47694379) Journal
    They aren't things I expect them to handle when they get back. It's more along the lines of "X broke while you were gone. We did Y to fix it. Here's the status on Y." Otherwise, they're going to encounter Y a month from now and go "wtf is this Y thing?" and we'll have to explain that Y happened while they were skiing in the Swiss Alps but we didn't bother CCing them on the plans for it.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:14AM (#47694775) Journal
    It won't work. You also need one more thing: a sender that pays attention to the out of office message. When I see an email which has a subject line that says "Out of office", I don't bother reading it. I just delete it. Obviously the recipient got the email; they just won't respond right away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:20AM (#47694841)

    If it's really important, the vacation guy is replaced during his absence and the replacement handles the email.

    If that's not the case, it's not an important job, even if the tenant thinks it is.

    I wanted to reply something similar, but to be honest the thought never occurred to me. Instead, it was more along the lines of "well, they have to delete the emails because otherwise the employee will be blamed that important emails went unanswered during their vacation" as unfair as I realize that is. In the US I think there's such a fear of downsizing and being replaced that "the replacement handles the email" would also be the guy who never takes vacations precisely because it's the only way they have an edge over everyone else.

    This is the race to the bottom of the US and why many European countries having mandatory vacations, including as you mention all the stringent rules about overtime, is a good thing.

  • by dskoll (99328) on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:38AM (#47695009)

    If a sender does not pay attention to my message, then why should I pay attention to the sender's message?

    If I send something important and then soon afterwards get an out-of-office reply, I certainly read it.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:49AM (#47695113)

    The problem with implementing something like this in a US company is the staffing model. European companies tend to have more people doing similar jobs, so that one person actually can fill in for another. Most out of office messages say something like "I'm not here, please contact my manager XYZ for assistance." 9 times out of 10, there's no backup person who can actually provide an answer, simply because there's no backup staff that knows enough to solve a problem.

    The other issue is that at least in IT, most places still allow individuals to knowledge-hoard. Often it's unintentional (see understaffing above) because there's simply no time to ensure someone else knows about what you do. But sometimes people do this in a misguided quest for job security. Also, a very small number of people do it to cover something up -- there stories out there about people who found loopholes in purchasing/accounting systems and used them to write checks to themselves or divert equipment...and only got caught when someone else started reviewing things they had been handling themselves.

    In my opinion, a lot of the knowledge-hoarding would stop if people were able to trust their employers to keep them employed, or to at least treat them fairly if they had to be laid off. Sure, implementing worker-friendly policies would probably be expensive in the short run, but I can't tell you the number of times I've walked into a new job where the previous individual held all the tribal knowledge about a system or process. I think this policy is a very good one -- especially for employees who work a stressful job and have family commitments, etc. Being able to completely ignore everything during a vacation would be something many employees would stick around to keep. Personally, I have a very busy work schedule and 2 little kids at home. Between not sleeping normally and often having to use my downtime to finish extra work, I would _love_ to be able to say "here, this is your problem now" for 2 weeks. (I wouldn't even have to go anywhere...just put me somewhere to turn off my brain for a couple days.)

    It'll never happen here though -- there are too many people who buy into the "job creators" meme and let their employers walk all over them...everyone who even suggests a worker-friendly policy is a lazy entitled socialist here.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Monday August 18, 2014 @10:00AM (#47695227)

    Then the solution is to lock employees out of email when they're on vacation, not delete what could be an important communication.

  • Wonderful, your world can keep going. Please contact my alternate (as indicated by my OOO reply) and they will make sure your world maintains its vital impetus. If it's not worth contacting them, then it's not that important at all, and you can reach out to me when I get back.
  • by bondsbw (888959) on Monday August 18, 2014 @10:18AM (#47695383)

    A solution to this problem is to organize decisions and action items into a centralized repository that can be viewed and tracked by everyone.

    Email is best used for quick communication, not for project tracking.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday August 18, 2014 @10:46AM (#47695681) Homepage

    "The problem with this is that email tends to get massively backed up when people like you think that you can do that"

    If only there was some way to determine when an email was received! Then people could continue to look at current emails, and go over the backlog or choose to just delete the whole lot of them from when they left until they returned! But no. As you point out, email was always intended to be a synchronous mechanism, and one should call first and make sure their intended recipient is in the office before sending an email! The nerve of people like sandytaru thinking they can just send emails at any time without verifying that the person is in the office and in front of their computer first!*

    Yes. You are an idiot.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday August 18, 2014 @10:56AM (#47695769) Homepage

    "You're doing it wrong, for exactly the reason you are sending CCs to people that are out of the office."

    Holy shit. You have got to be kidding me. There wasn't a single point in your whole diatribe that was remotely on point. Please learn the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication. By your argument anyone who uses voicemail or email is "doing it wrong", and anyone who says anything to anyone is wasting their time. I mean why say anything in a meeting. After all, if we get a new employee we'd have to have the same meeting all over again! See also that "Forward" button in your microsoft.

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