Slave to email?
As we return to work following the holidays, are you feeling like a slave to your emails?.
Do any of these points ring true for you?
I look at emails during the holidays to reduce the number I face when I get back in
I don’t have time to go through all the emails I get, and dread coming back from time away
The first day back from the holidays are already stressful, as I have to catch up with emails and other tasks
I’m often in copy of emails that have nothing to do with me, or my work.
Colleagues will add management into emails to speed up my reply or attempt to get me to complete their request urgently.
Email is like a ball and chain at times, creating pressure to reply quickly and shape our work schedules. We feel like we must reply to the email as it arrives, because of the “new mail” notification, or sound that was triggered.
Before we go on holiday we feel compelled to send those last emails before signing off. We are meant to have a break from work and recharge ourselves. But this can be short-lived as the holiday starts to draw to a close we are already thinking about the day we return and how bad it might be, how many emails am I coming back to?
This happens each time we are about to take holiday or are due to come back.
But it does not have to be this way. Why not make changes in the culture of the business, as well as within processes, so that staff only have the emails they need in order to empower them to complete work, rather than overload them.
There is another way…
An example that could be followed is that of the German vehicle-maker Daimler. Following Volkswagen’s decision to turn email off after office hours and new guidelines in France ordering workers in some sectors to ignore work emails when they go home, Daimler decided to take a new approach to holiday email.
The company explained when the policy was launched: “The aim of the project is to maintain the balance between the work and home life of Daimler employees so as to safeguard their performance in the long run.” This auto-delete policy – which is optional – follows a piece of government-funded research on work-life balance, which Daimler carried out in 2010 and 2011 with psychologists from the University of Heidelberg.
Now, if you email employees at Daimler while they are on holiday, you will get an auto message response similar to this:
I am on vacation. I cannot read your email. Your email is being deleted. Please contact Hans or Monika if it’s really important or resend the email after I’m back in the office. Danke Schoen.
The response on Twitter has been overwhelmingly positive. “I love Daimler’s approach to holiday email,” says the entrepreneur Nuno Almeida, while the FT’s Hanna Kuchler tweets: “Now this is email management.”
Daimler spokesman Oliver Wihofszki told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“The response is basically 99% positive, because everybody says, ‘That’s a real nice thing, I would love to have that too.”
Does this strike a chord with you, do you think that your company could benefit from this, or something similar. Get in touch today