The concept of ‘always on’ is widely viewed as impacting negatively on employee wellbeing. Receiving and responding to email out of hours can have a significant role in propagating this situation. Best practice in many organisations is to establish a culture where it is viewed as acceptable not to read or respond to email out of hours.
Rollout of out of UCD’s out of hours email policy is a highly visible action demonstrating our commitment to employee wellbeing. Line managers play a pivotal role in the implementation of the policy and ultimately changing the culture of the organisation for the better.
Due to UCD’s global footprint with employees traveling and working in many time zones, a range of approaches will be needed. Potential ways line managers (and other colleagues) can support this policy are suggested below. All are adaptable and account for different working preferences and styles.
Communicate the policy
Communicate and indicate your support for the policy among your team by referencing it at team meetings and reminding colleagues as and when needed.
Avoid sending out of hours email
In recognising the spirit of the policy and the intention to promote employee wellbeing, managers should set the tone in their own areas by avoiding sending out of hours email where possible.
Inform your team you are away and that they may receive out of hours emails that you do not expect them to respond to until their normal working hours. This can be prior to your departure or as a footer to your email.
Delay sending out of hours emails
Many reasons including travel, absence from the office, flexible working etc may result in the need to work on email out of normal working hours. Where this occurs, technological solutions may be used to delay sending the email to the recipient(s) until their normal working hours.
For example in Google’s Gmail a simple dropdown option on the send button allows an email to be sent at a scheduled time. Similar options also exist for desktop email clients such as Outlook.
Insert an email footer
Awareness of the policy can be raise by adding a footer to email signatures to indicate that there is no expectation placed upon the recipient for a response outside of their normal working hours. Suggested wording may include the following phrases, and could be adapted by individuals:
“As UCD is a global University, it is possible that this email may reach you outside of your working hours. If so, please do not feel you have to read or respond until your normal working hours.”
It should be noted that no part of this policy prohibits an employee who chooses to read and respond to emails out of normal working hours from doing so. However, it is incumbent upon line managers and other colleagues not to create a sense of pressure to read/respond to email out of hours and to adopt the strategies above with the intention of creating a better working environment for all.