14 February 2012

Endemic out-of-office laziness

Just so you can see that Mr Mustard was not having a go at Mr Lai the poor unfortunate manager whose out-of-office so annoyed Mr Mustard last week, but at the system, here are 3 more examples from more senior people who really should set a proper example. All of these are from 12 February.

First up: 
Declan Hoare
Assistant Director Highways and Transport

Please be advised that I am away from the office until 20th February 2012.

In my absence please contact the relevant service manager:-

Bernard McGreevy, Transport and Fleet – bernard.mcgreevy@barnet.gov.uk
John McArdle, Parking Enforcement – john.mcardle@barnet.gov.uk email John and get another out-of-office, oh what fun.
Mervyn Bartlett, Transportation and Regeneration – mervyn.bartlett@barnet.gov.uk
Neil Richardson, Traffic and Development – neil.richardson@barnet.gov.uk
Paul Bragg, Network Management – paul.bragg@barnet.gov.uk

Alternatively if the matter is urgent please ring Lucy Law, Executive Assistant to the Director of Environment, Planning and Regeneration on 020 8359 4196 and she will arrange for someone to deal with it.

If you need to speak to somebody as a matter of urgency outside office hours, please telephone Customer Services on 020 8359 2000.

Alternatively I will respond to your email upon my return.

Kind regards
Declan Hoare

Next; Martyn Carter, Procurement Manager, Commercial Services

I am currently out of the office and shall return on 13th February 2012 . If your enquiry is urgent, please contact any of the following:

John O'Dor 020 8359 7023
Nasreen Tayab on 020 8359 3367
Susan Lowe 020 8359 7212

and finally: John McArdle, Parking Manager

Thank you for your e-mail but I am out of the office until Monday 13 February so will not see it until then. Unless it is some matter that I need to deal with personally it may be better for you to contact instead one of the following:

Akmal Shah
Information Manager
IT systems, communications, and related matters

Tel: 020 8359 7852 Mob: 07827 873 718

Jose Garcia
Enforcement Manager
All enforcement matters

Tel: 020 8359 5001 Mob 07787 266422

Mick Dolan
Interim Parking Maintenance Manager What exactly is he maintaining now all of the meters are bagged or removed?
Maintenance, finance and procurement

Tel: 02083595161 Mob: 07903109744

James Norman
Information Team Leader
Penalty Charge Notice processing

Tel: 020 8359 7799

Geraldine Edwards
Information Team Leader
Complaints, FOIA requests, and all non PCN correspondence

Tel: 020 8359 7542

I apologise for any inconvenience

So there we have it. As it happens Mr Mustard's email was for information only so it will keep but it might have been an urgent matter and it would have been much better if all emails were forwarded to another officer to screen. Here is how the Univeristy of Huddersfield likes to deal with things.

Good practice

We would all agree that any communication to the University should receive a proper reply. The use of the external out-of-office message ensures that the enquirer at least knows why a proper reply cannot be sent, but it really has to be seen as second best. It is far better that someone else should be able to deal with the message and respond to the enquirer’s satisfaction. For this reason it is University practice to avoid the use of individual mailboxes for course enquiries, so that a group of people can share responsibility. It is also possible, and simple, to set up a temporary arrangement for another member of staff to check our mailbox when we are away, ensuring that important items are dealt with properly. This is a simple process, set up from within Outlook, which doesn’t involve giving anyone else your password.

That said, the out-of-office does ensure that the enquirer gets a reply, and should perhaps be used in tandem with a cover arrangement.
Maybe Barnet Council could learn from the University of Huddersfield.
Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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