ROWE Jody Thompson

How to go ‘off grid’ without going off your rocker.

Posted May 14, 2014 in Latest News & Insights, Leadership

Does the thought of detaching from your iPad, smart phone, work emails and voicemails for a week’s vacation cause you to break out into a cold sweat?

Can you imagine a weekend in the wilderness without charging cables or cell towers?

Here in ROWE-land we celebrate technology and the connectivity that allows us to focus on RESULTS, rather than the old currency of work – being a slave to the time clock or the expectation of required physical or virtual presence. Extended vacations or being ‘unplugged’ pose no problem when you are focused on successfully achieving the agreed upon measurable results of your work, and are accountable for those results. Devices are the tools that allow us the freedom to happily unplug and relax – because they continue to work for us even when we choose to stop mentally and physically working for a period of time.

Here’s a couple easy steps to make sure all your business bases are covered and results are on track while you go device-free in the wilderness!

1. Communicate with key people.
Part of the ROWE mantra is “100% autonomy, 100% accountability.” This means that when it’s time to go off-grid, it is your responsibility to communicate about the work to key people to ensure the work you are responsible for is completed or keeps moving along during your absence. You are not asking permission to leave. You are managing your work and are accountable to make sure all of your bases are covered. What does that mean? Perhaps you’ll work ahead and meet deadlines early. You may have conversations with your coworkers about what they need from you while you’re away. Plan ahead. Anticipate what you can. Tie up any loose ends.

2. Set a ROWE-worthy “out of office” reply.
Let’s get real. If you are traveling, in meetings, or at a conference, you are working. Think of the boy who cried wolf. If you use your out of office email reply for every little thing, people will just think you’re lame and will stop reading it. It’s not customer focused, it’s ME focused. ‘Look at how busy I am! My company lets me travel! They invite me to a lot of meetings! I’m SO IMPORTANT!’ “I am at a conference this week and will not have limited access to email. I will try to get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime you can contact my backup”. What does this say to the customer? And where are you that you can only get limited access to email in 2014? And what does ‘as soon as I can’ mean? In a day? Two days? A week?

Use your out of office email response only in the instances you’ll truly be off-grid. The customer or client will actually read it because they haven’t gotten multiple iterations of your bounce-back email on a continuous basis. Be clear and concise about when you’ll be responding. Information about where you’re going or why you’re there are irrelevant and have nothing to do with the work (and are excuses as to why work isn’t getting done) so leave those bits out of it. Instead, let the customer know ‘I’m on it!’

The following is a good example of a customer-focused out of office reply:
I will be responding to emails beginning February 1. Please reply and let me know what you need and I will respond. If you need assistance before February 1, please contact [back-up].

With an out of office email response like this, the customer knows exactly when you will be responding and can plan accordingly. There is no guesswork here. And, they know that if they choose to, they can let you know exactly what they need – or contact your backup – and work will get done.

You can use this same logic with your voicemail. Let callers know when you will be responding to voicemails, instead of giving them a lengthy message about where you are, why you’re ‘unavailable’, and how long you won’t be serving them.

Hello, you’ve reached Jessica. I will be responding to voicemail beginning February 1st. Please let me know what you need and I will respond. If you need assistance before February first, contact [backup].

In a ROWE, you are in control of your work. Your technology can work for you while you are off the grid. So relax. Plan for time away in a work-focused, customer-focused manner. Then, instead of going off your rocker, you’ll be kicking back and enjoying your well-deserved time ‘off grid’.

[fancy_box]Today’s guest blog post is courtesy of Jody Thompson at ROWE.
Make sure you register for this month’s e-Roundtable featuring Jody Thompson! [/fancy_box]

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