How to stop stressing about work emails on vacation

Ever felt that small nagging need to check your work email while you're on vacation? "I'll get too behind," you think. "What if it's important? What if it's urgent?"

According to an Intel Security study, 68 percent of Americans check their email at least once a day, every day on vacation. Of those who made a point to resist the urge, 65 percent said their trip was more enjoyable.

At Front, we believe your email shouldn’t stress you out, and you should be able to give customers a great experience even when you take a week off. That’s why we designed Front with tools to help you and your team go out of office, anxiety-free. Try these Front features before your next trip:

1. Set your vacation responder to keep everyone in the loop

Don’t worry about going radio silent while you’re off snorkeling with sea horses. Create a vacation responder to automatically reply when you’re out. That way, customers know where you are and when to expect a response. When you write your vacation responder, you can set a specific date for it to kick in. Then you’re good to go, and you never have to worry about switching it on or off.

Set a vacation responder for your individual inbox to automatically respond to certain messages while you’re away.

In Front, you can use dynamic variables in your vacation responder. Dynamic variables automatically populate customer data into your responses to help you keep your messages personal.

2. Set vacation responder rules for your team inboxes

Vacation responders are for your individual inbox only. To create a vacation responder for a team inbox, use rules. With rules, Front gives you a lot more flexibility with vacation responders than you would have with Gmail or Outlook. You can make as many different vacation responder rules as you need, so you can answer every customer just the way you want.

For example, send a VIP customer a message that includes your manager’s email, in case they need something urgently. Or for messages that contain a similar type of question, send a vacation responder that directs them to relevant resources or your knowledge base.

Shopify’s 50-person Merchant Success Team manages 200,000 emails a month. They answer every message in 24 hours or less. They created a rule in Front so that when someone is out of office, all their customer messages get sent to a shared “vacation” inbox. This way, everyone on the team can see them and respond. If a shared message goes unaddressed for two hours, the whole team gets notified and someone can assign it to themselves. Since switching to Front, 23 percent of their shared vacation inbox emails get replies in less than an hour.

3. Be transparent with your individual work email

Worried about important messages to your individual work email going unanswered while you’re out of office? Get peace of mind by giving someone else access. In Front, you can easily grant a teammate or a manager access to your individual work email for a period of time. That way you can rest assured that urgent messages get handled.

At Front, we’ve found that transparency leads to productivity. For example, our VP of Customer Growth Travis Bryant granted our CEO Mathilde Collin access to his individual work email on his last vacation. Travis was getting married in Portugal — not the time to be worrying about checking email. But he also didn’t want important messages to go unanswered, or to return from his wedding to a tidal wave of email.

“Since I shared my inbox with Mathilde, I knew she would be on top of anything that was super urgent, and if it really required my help she would reach out (she didn’t),” Bryant said. “With Front’s rules and archiving, I came back on Monday to a well-manicured inbox. I had a surprising lack of anxiety starting back to work after an amazing week and life experience!”

4. Use OOO mode to make sure every customer gets a reply

When you’re having a steady email conversation with a customer, it feels weird to suddenly drop off the face of the Earth for vacation. Make sure all your customer messages get replies while you’re away by switching to Out of Office mode.

When you're Out of Office, any time a customer replies to a message that originated in a team inbox, the conversation automatically gets unassigned. That way, your teammates can see the message and jump in and reply on for you. Everyone knows what needs a reply, and nothing slips through the cracks while you’re out.

Set your availability to Out of Office when you’re on vacation, so conversations assigned to you automatically get unassigned, and your team can jump in and work on them.

Going OOO also means there’s no need to mess with any routing rules your team already has set up. For instance, if all messages from Dave’s Sporting Goods automatically get assigned to you, these messages will be unassigned automatically. When you come back, the rule will keep working as usual, and all Dave’s messages will keep getting assigned to you.

5. Mute

You’re snapping a family photo in front of a gorgeous sunset and — oh, team meeting next week! Nothing rips you out of a memorable moment more than an email notification. Stay present by turning on Mute in Front. Mute silences all your Front notifications, so you can relax without distractions.

6. Snooze messages you want to look at later

Got a message you want to get to later, but worried you’ll forget all about it while you’re off adventuring? Try snoozing it. Snooze lets you set a time for messages to pop back up in your inbox. It’s gone from your inbox until you’re ready to deal with it. One less thing on your brain while you’re out! Some strategies for snoozing before your vacation:

  • Snooze messages for the same time when you get back, so you can spend one chunk of time knocking them all out.
  • Or, try spreading them out over the week you come back, so you’re not overwhelmed all at once with snoozed messages.

7. Set reminders so you can fully disconnect

Worried you’ll forget about customer conversations while you’re off adventuring? Set a reminder so you never forget to follow up on a conversation — even after you’ve spent three weeks immersed in fiction on a white sandy beach.

When you set a reminder on a message, it’ll automatically pop back up in your inbox if you haven’t received a reply. That way, you can fully relax while you’re lounging in the sand, since you know you won’t forget a single follow up when you’re back.

Set reminders to make messages pop back up in your inbox, so you know you won’t forget anything while you’re on vacation.

8. Pick up right where you left off

Front makes it easy to pick up right where you left off on every conversation, whether you’re responding after your vacation, or if your teammate’s jumping in for you. Before you head out, write notes on conversations that need context. Front has two places you can write notes:

  • Contact Details: Contact Details for every customer are located in the integrations panel. Here you can see all your communications with a customer, and leave notes about them for your whole team to see. It’s helpful to write general notes about a customer relationship here if a teammate is covering the account while you’re out.
  • Comments: Jot a note about a specific conversation using internal-only comments, chat messages that live in your email threads. For example, write, “Bob requested a team training for next month, but we haven’t picked a date yet.” That way when you return from your escapade, you know exactly what was going on. Or if a teammate wants to jump in and respond, they have context they need to write a great reply.

Don’t let email stress you out while you’re on vacation. Using Front gives you peace of mind that your customers will get great answers while you’re out, and you won’t come back to an overflowing inbox.