Communications technology empowers people to choose when and where they work but you may be guilty of over-sharing at inappropriate times.
It’s the weekend and you’re about to turn in for the night but first you fire off a dozen emails to get a jump on Monday morning.
Stop to think about what you just did.
Albeit with the best of intentions, you transferred your burden to those people right before you went to bed.
Ask yourself: Where are they? Who are they (colleagues, employees, partners, clients, suppliers, your boss)? What were they doing when they received your email? Did they really need to see those emails? Could you have sent the emails on Monday? And do you think your email was well received just now?
Although we’d like to think that recipients of our emails appreciate our diligence and be disciplined, sending a work email out of hours imposes an obligation.
It’s important to monitor ‘digital workaholics’ because they are prone to burning out those around them who then leave the organisation, which hits the business’s bottom line. It costs an employer $15,960 to replace a worker on a salary of $45,000 while it costs $244.75 each day they are absent.
Even worse than email are ‘noisy’ modes of communications such as SMS and chat apps like WhatsApp and Slack because they are more immediate and intimate, implicitly demanding an instant response. The problem becomes more acute as unified communications and collaboration (UCC) systems spread, potentially pricking people for information at inappropriate times and denying them the right to unwind and regroup, says OBT managing director, Shane Muller.
“If a manager sends an email at 10pm on Thursday or Saturday at 10am it is often absorbed and received, but not with the best spirit,” Muller says.
“Often the staff have to reply back or they feel compelled to—whether they’re asked is not the point—they feel compelled to. And one reply leads to the next email and the next and so we see where sometimes this technology can be a trap if the organisation doesn’t set the tone and the culture on from the outset.”
High-achieving managers and business owners may be the worst offenders, inflicting their work ethic on others while failing to appreciate that their roles, expectations and rewards for long hours are vastly different.
So it’s important to be wary of sending messages after hours that may cause the recipient undue stress and resentment and which may impact their work performance, relationships and longevity with the firm.
Muller fires off scores of emails most weekends but they don’t rain on employees after hours. He stages emails to hit their inboxes when he thinks they will be well received, such as on a Monday afternoon or Tuesday, for less important messages.
“We have found that when people have the choice [when and where to work], they don’t have the discipline to not work. That does cause tension within a family environment.
“And often the finger ends up being pointed at the organisation.”
OBT helps clients set a baseline to measure the success of their UCC solution and provides activity metrics to help its managed services customers balance their employees’ work and personal lives.
“This [UCC] technology delivers the ability and choice, which means people sometimes work longer. A well cultured organisation will implement a policy or have metrics to ensure staff are not overworking,” Muller says.
Are you inadvertently stressing-out employees, partners or even your boss with your after-hours missives? Ask OBT how we can help you set a baseline to get the productivity balance right.