Why I don’t use “out of office”


One of the most tiresome tasks is clearing people’s out of office messages from my timeline. Firstly, I really don’t care if someone is on holiday, either they can deal with my mail or they can’t and unless they are dead- they will probably get round to it sometime.

I’m much more interested to know if someone is online, which I can generally find out from social media platforms which tell me who is paying attention (Messenger is particularly good).

Frankly I’ve given up on trying to work out formalities. As I am as happy to chat with a CEO as with the cleaner (and value the cleaner’s time equally, why should I worry what messaging system I’m on?

Apart from email, no other messaging system goes to the trouble of telling me someone isn’t around to reply to my query, and when they might get back to me – why should they.

Most messaging systems assume we are on call , on tap , on-line when we choose to be. Occasionally , and very rarely nowadays, we stray out of an area where we can get a signal but apart from then, we are all permanently in the office (by my reckoning).

So people who choose not to be contacted at certain times (when they are on holiday for instance) are making a lifestyle decision based on what they want – not what I want.

Most of the lifestyle gurus tell you that when you leave your office, you leave work. This is patent nonsense, you may try to dismiss work from your mind, but almost certainly you will continue to think about work when you are on holiday – especially if you are “professional”

Professionals never leave the office

This headline is likely to make a lot of readers cross and will undoubtedly get me some black marks with my own HR departments. But I’ll say it again “professionals never leave the office”.

The reason is that professionals, by definition, consider themselves at work when needed. My father was a professional doctor and if he ever came across someone in distress – whether physically or mentally, he would take time to help, whether he was on holiday or not.

Similarly, I do not see any point in not having my phone switched on and checking the various feeds coming to it – so that I can answer certain messages according to urgency. If you urgently need my help, I will usually get back to you asap.

there are one or two ways to almost certainly miss me – leaving voicemails being one of them, voicemails are the last thing I look for on my phone. Maybe that’s me – but I do now ask people who want me to call me back – to text – I don’t want to hear their unsuccinct ramblings to an end, I want to get to their point and a text does just that.

OOO is for pussies and cocks

In my book – OOO is old school and people who use it are pussies and cocks. I am of course being very correct in using both sets of genitalia in this formulation. 

Annual leave is also old school and is for pussies and cocks. Nobody has leave – whether annual or otherwise. Leave assumes that when not on leave you are on the job. I’m a professional (even though I use the vernacular) and professionals do not walk away from their responsibilities when they walk out of the office. They are on call if they are on line.

Are you sufficiently annoyed yet?

I would be very surprised if a large proportion of my readership – and everyone involved in “wellness, wee-being, reward, HR and all the other branches of personnel management are putting my blog on their virtual risk register.

But I’m right and you know it. The more irate you are getting , the righter I am!

At this act moment I am on an Easyjet flight from London to Alicante and I can’t get a signal. So I’m writing this without the slightest fear of accidentally blogging.

If this blog appears in a modified format – without me calling half my readers pussies and cocks, then you will never know I typed this.

You will never know how intolerant I am of the lazy , part-time unprofessionally that lies behind “out of the office”.

Why I never intend to be out of the office again

When I die, and I hope I don’t anytime soon, I may well have “out of the office” engraved on my headstone. It would be a fitting epitaph. If I could ever be bothered to write an autobiography, out of the office might be a good title (if only to make the point that the office is just a negative state of mind.

Being in an office is an admission of defeat. That’s why I love WeWork and its rivals who are making being in the office as cool as not being in the office. Indeed, WeWork has so redefined the way we work that a WeWork office is a tautology (the two words in the phrase are mutually exclusive).

I use WeWork because it provides a particular focus but not because it is an office. When I leave WeWork I just change the focus.

And I do not switch my phone to airplane or log-out of my laptop when I depart my workspace. So my office is in my pocket or my backpack and reminds me of my duties with an array of delicious ringtones and vibrations.

They were exactly predicted in Shakespeare’s Tempest – for like Prospero’s island , my island is full of strange voices chattering to me day and night. And like Ariel and Prospero and Miranda (and most like Caliban), I love it.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Why I don’t use “out of office”

  1. Brian G says:

    Some people manage to behave like a pussy or a cock without needing to leave the office really or virtually. Probably when they have been drinking.

  2. Work to live says:

    Ha ha ha, I see what you did there.

  3. Adam Saunders says:

    Does anyone else have an almost overwhelming urge to put out of office on and email Henry? Just me then?

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