Time for an email curfew?

by Jamie Henry27 Aug 2014
Are late-night emails eating into your team's sleep-cycle, productivity and overall happiness in their job? Some companies are testing out email curfews to kick the habit - and finding success.

U.S. health-care consultancy Vynamic has established a ban on employees sending emails between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. during the week, and sending emails at all on the weekend.

“You get an email. You’re trying to sleep. You happen to look at it right as you fall asleep, and the next thing you know you’re up thinking about it. All it takes it that one,” Dan Calista, CEO of Vynamic, told FastCompany.

“We’re not going to fire somebody if they violate it,” he said, adding that after managers gave it a go and evaluated it, the entire employee base become believers in it. They have since included the “Zmail” policy in the employee handbook.

Although urgent matters may need to be addressed, Calista argues that if it can be put into an email, it probably isn’t that urgent – clients and employees are free to call if they need to.

Interestingly, Calista mentioned a “zbombing” phenomena, in which many emails are sent and received in the company at 9:59PM – right before blackout.

Calista recognized that the blackout doesn’t suit everyone’s productivity cycles, highlighting that some parents may get work done late at night after putting their children to sleep, and others might like working Saturday morning. The CEO stated he had no problem with them getting to work, but if they produce any emails to save them as drafts and send them during email hours.

Endless email communication is a primary driver in the burnout many of today’s workforce experience.

“A lot of people carry their work with them 24/7. The culture has changed to where people think nothing of calling a person after-hours or whilst they are on leave,” Robyn McNeill of beatingburnout.com.au told HC.

Steve Ewin, head of insight Pacific at Hay Group, feels that shooting off quick emails can sometimes be necessary, but expecting staff to answer them late at night needs to stop.

Calista appears to share these sentiments. “Just knowing that your employer is not expecting you to be online between those hours is liberating,” he said. “It allows you to mentally disconnect for a few hours.”

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