The Impossible Dream: How You Can Return From Vacation to an Empty Inbox

Taking a vacation is supposed to mean taking a break from work. It’s the reason why email auto-responders exist; so you can enjoy a Mai Tai on the beach with your toes in the sand without worrying about what “emergency” is happening in the office. Of course, many of us just can’t resist the impulse to check email while we're away. Messages pile up, making that first day back at the office just short of a nightmare.

(Photo Credit: Beate Meier/Flickr)

One company seems to have solved that problem for employees. Now, those who take vacation while working for Daimler in Germany don’t have to fret about trying to maintain inbox zero while away. Instead, reports The Financial Times (via The Atlantic), all emails received during a vacation will be deleted automatically:

"The sender is notified by the 'Mail on Holiday' assistant that the email has not been received and is invited to contact a nominated substitute instead. Employees can therefore return from their summer vacation to an empty inbox.”

Not only does this sound ideal, but it could be the future of managing all email. As we wrote previously, using an email auto-responder all the time -- and not only while on vacation -- is an excellent way of reducing the number of incoming emails and replies. If every company instituted a policy such as Daimler (even if just during vacations), it’s safe to assume that customer service would likely improve, as the sender would receive a response faster and from the right person (rather than waiting for the person on vacation to route it through the office, or just reply that they can’t help.)

Daimler shows that email doesn’t have to be an overwhelming, unmanageable flow of communication. Instead, treating it like just that -- a form of manageable communication -- both senders and recipients of email will be happier and more satisfied.

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