I was interested to read an article by Forbes on Are You The Perfect Always-On Employee? No Problem. Here’s How To Fake It.
I thought some of the tips in the article were useful, many of us are expected to be available at any time, even during our time off. The article in Forbes suggested some ways to fake that you were available and/or interested without being constantly attached to your device. My favourite suggestion was to put an emphasis on people ringing you out of hours if they need to make contact with you, which really makes them think twice before trying to get hold of you:
I particularly like the approach espoused by Claire Robinson, our editorial operations manager. If someone tries to engage her by email after hours, she ups the ante and puts the onus on the other party. “I put my mobile number in my e-mail signature and emphasize it in my away message,” she says. “If it’s that important, call me. Most of the time, people will not abuse this. I of course check mail periodically during off-hours, but your brain needs a break. I’d rather be interrupted by a call alerting me to something truly important than checking mail constantly just in case.”
But in my experience I felt that the tips didn’t go far enough. Having worked in ministry for 8 years and spent 6 months working as a Recruiter in the City of London there are very few people who aren’t okay with you not checking email on your mobile phone etc., when you’re out of work.
As soon as we start to respond to messages late at night or on our day off people think that it is okay to message us and raise their expectations of us. The reverse is true, if they know you will answer the phone if it is incredibly urgent and important but the rest of the time you’re with your family and friends, they don’t send as many messages themselves, which in turn lowers the strain on yourself.
In the secular world it is much more common for your workplace to have a policy and to provide you with a work device which can, at times, be turned off. In the faith sector, often employers don’t provide that device, so whilst it can be useful to get messages as you’re out and about during the day moving from school to youth group to meetings I’d really encourage people to think carefully before putting their work email on their mobile device.
How do you ensure you’re not on call 24 hours a day?