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September 8, 2014

Returning From Vacation to Inbox Zero

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The story line has been repeated a million times over: you return from vacation feeling relaxed with your batteries recharged. Coffee in hand, you’re ready to move ahead with enthusiasm until you open your email and all that positive momentum disappears quicker than your tan. Email upon email load into your inbox, demanding to be read and replied. Soon, you find yourself wishing you had never left.

Long gone are the days of vacationing and leaving work totally behind. Technology has taken away the option of a total disconnect, and we can all identify with the inevitable post-vacation email storm clouding our time off even while we are away.

Many have devised methods of getting around this issue. Most recently, German company Daimler has implemented a new program that allows employees to set their inboxes to delete incoming emails while away. Their pioneer program, dubbed “Mail on Holiday,” issues a reply to the sender of an email informing them that a recipient is out of the office and that the email will be deleted, and offers contact information of another employee in case there is an issue that needs immediate handling.

The idea is new, but the end goal is not. Companies and employees alike want team members to have time off; in this 2.0 world, the benefits of rest and relaxation are unanimously embraced. So, how is this achieved without having to totally cut yourself off?

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It wasn’t until my most recent vacation that I found a solution to this modern quandary using our very own application. For the first time, returning from two great weeks with my family overseas induced no inbox shock.

How is this possible, you ask? Because our team uses our very own app exclusively for team communication. Sure, my email inbox had a few personal emails, and dozens of easily ignored emails sent from various news sites. But everything work-related was in one place, and organized neatly into conversation spaces. In each space, I read back through the conversation without needing to open a dozen emails and trying to understand a fragmented flow. I simply read the stream of conversation and quickly caught up with what had happened while I was away. I did this for the most important conversations first, adding my thoughts once to the bottom of the stream. Then I moved on to the conversations that were less vital or casual discussions (office lunch recommendations, etc…). And only moments later, I was back to work!

– Jo Friedman, VP Products