Your out of hours emails are hurting your team

We have all done it. Had that “ah” moment late at night where we have realised that there is a piece of information that we wanted to share with our team and didn’t, so we dash off an email, ignoring the hour, thinking they will read it first thing. Done. No time like the present, right? Wrong!

A new study from Virginia Tech reveals that sending emails out of hours not only impacts employees when you send them, surprisingly, it impacts them when you don’t, as by sending any emails outside of office hours sets an expectation culture with employees that they need to be checking email in their downtime. This results in anxiety as employees are always “on” and don’t recharge, which adversely effects their health and that of their families.

Often this is an unintentional side effect of the desire to get things done and off our to do list. When we look at the emails we send in our downtime it is a case of our convenience rather than real urgency. (Did we really need to send those meeting minutes at 9pm on a Sunday night?). 

Avoid creating this expectation culture with your team by;

  • Telling them that they are not expected to check email in their downtime, if it is urgent you will call.
  • Stop sending email out of hours; as if you keep sending, they will keep checking
  • Delay sending or save emails in drafts to send in office time, if you must work on your emails in your own time.

Also think about yourself, experiments have shown that we all require downtime to deliver our best at work. Time away produces the new perspectives and ideas that we as leaders need. Turn off the new email alerts and drop the habit of checking email in your downtime, you will get to like it and your family will too!

Chris Brown is Managing Partner of kohola
September 2018