Recently I have been going back over the Virtual Worker Manifesto written by my Readifarian colleague, Darren Neimke, and my own comments on that piece. The reason I wanted to look it over again was because I have lost track of how much time I spend working/not working and I’m feeling a bit out of control with little to no time "away from work".
Working from home can do that to you, but I also wondered if it was also partly due to some of my own practices when it comes to work. Because I can be up at all hours, and so can my work colleagues, sometimes I will have email conversations late at night that could probably wait until the morning (or on the weekend that could wait until Monday). These add to the disruptive nature of working in such a connected world and not having a lot of separation between home and work environments. Worse, as a manager or senior employee sending communications late at night, what kind of message am I sending other people who work for Readify?
I mean, it’s more than OK if people want to engage in some late night discussion, but am I helping to promote a sense that it’s a responsibility to be always connected?
Roger Lawrence suggested that using the Delay option works well for him and his team. He faces much the same kind of challenge. The majority of his team tend to work beyond the normal "office hours" bracket and can be up at all hours. However, to minimise his own impact on the team, he marks anything he sends after a certain time each evening to not be delivered until the following morning, around 8am.
It got me thinking – it wouldn’t be a problem to do this as a general rule, would it? It would mean that conversations that weren’t important could still be responded to, but wouldn’t invite a flurry of back and forth late at night. Rather, it would funnel those communications to a more appropriate time of the day.
Of course, if someone has sent me something important that needs an urgent response and I happen to get it, then by all means I’ll answer it, but having implementing this kind of behaviour promotes the importance of down time and giving people space from work – something I’m feeling I need for my own sake so that I have proper family time. Surely others need that too.
Outlook 2007 allows you to easily delay messages, right out of the box (even for POP accounts). Firstly, go to the Options ribbon in the message, and click Delay Delivery:
From there, simply check the Do not deliver before option (if not already checked, select the date/time you want it sent and click Close:
That’s it – carry on composing your message as normal and you’ve helped minimise disruption for your colleagues!
Of course, having a company so spread out means the office time zone for me may not be the same as for someone else, but I’ve already commented previously on how we need to be careful of that.
I think I might try it out and see how it goes…