(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Summer brings vacations, and with them, a little quirk of the electronic age: The out-of-office email. In the old days, the receptionist would have conveyed such things and re-direct calls. But receptionists are more rare these days, and the existence of smart phones creates the expectation that email can be answered at any time. Consequently, people feel the need to explain why they won't be responding to email immediately.
But how much do you really need to explain? I'm not a big fan of out-of-office emails in general, but here are four that really convey the wrong message.
1. I will be out of the office from Friday at 5 p.m. until Monday at 8 a.m. Really? One would hope! Even though people do answer business emails during non-business hours, the person emailing you knows it's the weekend -- and doesn't need to be reminded.
2. I will not be in the office until 10 a.m. today. Truly influential people respond to emails when they want, knowing people will wait to hear from them. Don't create the impression that you answer all emails in less than an hour.
3. I will be out of the office finally enjoying some quality time with my family. If you wish to make an editorial point about your company's vacation policies or your co-workers' lack of prioritization, do it in person, not in a passive-aggressive email response.
4. I will be checking email occasionally and will respond to urgent matters.... Then why even have an out-of-office response? If it's important you'll get to it and if it's not, you won't. That should be your philosophy for your inbox in general -- not just on vacation.
Do you have a least favorite out-of-office auto-response? What is it?