Banning out-of-hours emails? Madness. Here’s 3 ways to stop email ruling our lives.

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  • ‘Work hours’ is an outdated term that is quickly becoming irrelevant. Even in the pre-COVID world, employees were flexing their weekly hours, juggling home life with work life so that they could balance demands. 3–3:30pm-ish at the moment is ‘outside of work hours’ for me, as I collect my son from school. 6–7pm is back inside work hours – sometimes – as I enjoy the lack of meetings to carry on with some tasks (which may or may not include emailing my team about things I don’t expect an immediate reply to…).
  • A globally-dispersed workforce makes ‘outside work hours’ an almost impossible concept. If I send an early-morning email – U.K. time – to my U.S.-based colleague, I don’t expect an immediate reply; same if I send something to Australia at 3pm BST. Again, it comes back to culture.
  • Managers need to be clear about their expectations with regards to email response. My team knows that I don’t require an immediate response to any email unless it says so in the subject line. And that happens rarely. If I need someone urgently outside of their working hours, I’ll send an apologetic text message.
  • Employees need to have the discipline to step away from work when they’re outside of their own working pattern. When they log off their laptop, it’s time to ignore new emails. Switch off that work phone. Give your brain time to recharge. I certainly do — and expect the same of my team.
  • We all need to control email, not be controlled by it. Rather than checking emails first thing in the morning and being ruled by the demands placed on us, we should be looking at our priority objectives and cracking on with those before looking at other people’s requests and priorities. Cal Newport in Deep Work suggests having specific times throughout the day to check email. Personally, I don’t open my email first thing and I don’t have it as the main screen open on my laptop all day – I have my To Do list and my calendar, so I know when I have upcoming meetings and stretches of free time for project work.



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David Romanis

David Romanis

15-year communication pro, avid musician, wannabe photographer, husband, father and huge fan of life hacks. Almost permanently in a hoodie.