With Blackberries, IPhones, Outlook, Google sync, voicemail and email it seems we can be and are in touch 24/7.
Think about how you, your staff or volunteers feel when they get an email outside of “office hours.” Are office hours 10-12-14 hours long? Why is that? Is it REALLY necessary? Are we using are time in the office effectively and efficiently?
I get we are in a recession and we can be doing the work of more than one person. Taking personal time after work or on the weekend will only make you better in the office.
When you or your staff receive an email or voice mail message (that is NOT an emergency) out of normal office hours, how do you feel?
Do you think you need to respond right away – no matter where you are?
Perhaps you feel pressure to respond – even angry to have work intrude upon personal time? If that describes how might feel – you must know the response you are giving might not be the best. And the anger may carry over to the next day at the office – cause you really didn’t have any off time.
Did you know you can delay delivery of emails through Outlook? Write all the email you want to whomever you want – at night on the weekends if you have to (honestly turning off is a good thing). Once you have written the email select Options and Delay Delivery. You can then schedule the email to arrive during the next business day.
Voice mail messages are a little trickier as you can’t schedule them. But you can certainly decide not to respond until the next business day. Or perhaps leave quick response to let the sender know you received the message and will give it some thought and respond at the next business day. Or just wait to check or send voice mail until you get into the office! What a concept.
A number of companies have instituted “Email Free Fridays.” They put auto replies on their email systems. They let customers know about the process. It encourages staff to meet in person or talk by phone. Pre and post surveys found staff happier and enjoying the interaction. Sometimes we get disconnected using electronic communication and we are sitting right next to each other! Think about it.
So next time you decide you need to communicate out of work hours, think about whether it is necessary to communicate it immediately just because you can? Next time you receive an email outside work hours….think about whether you need to respond immediately? Everyone in your office, especially leadership, needs to make this commitment. Creating personal time and space will make your office, staff and volunteers more productive, respectful and effective. Give it a try.
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