Did You Sneak a Peek at Your Work Email Over the Labor Day Weekend?

Labor DayIf you are like many in today’s corporate world, you couldn’t resist the urge to check your corporate email some time over the holiday weekend. We’re all guilty of it. Some of us are even the type to check our email before we even get out of bed in the morning, and to have one last peek before hitting the hay.

We are all guilty. We don’t have to be, though.

Daimler, a German automaker, is putting an end to checking corporate emails on days off and vacation according to a recent article in the NY Times. Daimler’s vacation email policy is breaking new ground and is gaining momentum across Germany. Volkswagon and Deutsche Telekom have adopted similar policies limiting work-related email to some employees on evenings and weekends.

How does Daimler’s vacation email system work? It’s actually quite simple.

We all have used Microsoft Outlook’s “Out Of Office” system in the past. If someone emails you when the Out of Office is turned on, they get an email back stating that you are away and when you expect to return. The email stays in your inbox until you remove it. That means you come back from your two-week vacation with over 500 unread messages waiting for you, leaving you scratching your head wondering if you should have ever went away in the first place.

With Daimler, when an employee puts their email in vacation mode the same process kicks off, but with one important difference. The “out of office” email is sent in response to any incoming messages, but then…

The email is deleted.

The auto-response sent out tells whoever is trying to reach you that you’re on vacation, that the email will be deleted, and when they should try to reach you again. There’s no option to have an email be “the special case” that isn’t deleted – everyone is treated equally and you’re left alone. When you return from your vacation the stress factor of 500 unread emails is gone. Daimler says “the idea behind it is to give people a break and let them rest, so they can come back to work with a fresh spirit.”

Should we adopt similar policies here?

Most business professionals and office workers complain about email. The average professional spends 28% percent of their workweek wrapped up in dealing with email. Professionals on average will check their email 74 times throughout the business day according to Gloria Mark, a professor at UC Irvine and an industry thought-leader on workplace behavior.

Today’s business professional is so wrapped up with dealing with email that they take email home just to deal with the avalanche of messages. Email checking has become so bad that 38% of business professionals even admit to taking a peak at email at the dinner table.

What is driving this behavior? Today’s culture expects people to respond instantly to requests. It doesn’t matter if it is 3 AM to 3 PM – the expectation is there. Rebecca Schinsky from the Boston Consulting Group said in the NY Times article that stressed-out consultants began organizing their “time off,” insisting upon no messaging during their time away from the office. Work hours dropped by 11% and productivity remained the same.

Are you willing to implement an “email free” schedule in your workplace? Would you make it against company policy to respond to emails outside of normal work hours? What would happen to your company morale if your staff members knew that it was OK not to respond outside of regular business hours?

Give it a try.

Need help implementing email systems that would allow this to happen? Give your team at a call today. Our Information Technology experts are here to help. We can be reached at or .

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