Do you have employees working remotely in your business? If so then you are probably used to emails flying around at all hours of the day or night.
We have all witnessed the whole working from home shift that has occurred over the previous couple of years and there is no denying that for some this has been life-changing in one way or another. Your people are now able to be more flexible with their time throughout the day in areas that before were just not possible for them. They can now work their time during the day to enable them to do little things that mean so much such as fitting in time for the school run or appointments that before would likely have taken place immediately before or after work which can often be stressful in itself.
In return, it now means that more work is being done in the evenings.
Recently Microsoft carried out an internal survey on how working from home affects collaboration. (It is so they can make further improvements in Teams).
This internal survey found that there are not one but two main spikes in productivity in a typical day, these being directly before and after lunch. The interesting part is that for a third of workers, there was actually a third spike in productivity which happens around 10 pm. This is people replying to emails before bed.
Where employees have removed commuting time (according to the TUC this is on average 59 minutes per day in the UK), their working time and availability have seen an increase.
Within Microsoft alone, employees actually increased their working time by 46 minutes – or 13% each day – with a huge 28% increase of after-hours work.
Although the above demonstrates that the working from home shift could be good for business, it demonstrates just how blurred the lines between work and home life have become.
The third peak that was previously mentioned actually carries the risk of potentially causing a loss of productivity. As more and more things are becoming accessible at all hours of the day or night for employees they are feeling more pressured to respond to emails quickly, which increases their stress levels in the evenings, affecting morale and overall well-being.
Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) said that businesses need to place more emphasis on soft skills and good management practices so that employee well-being is taken care of properly.
He advises that business owners and managers set very clear expectations on after-hours work so that employees do not feel under any pressure to always be available. One of these expectations should involve not feeling the need to respond to emails at the weekend, even if it is from a manager.
It is maybe worth sitting back and asking yourself this. Are you setting the right expectations for your people, and providing them with the tools they need to increase productivity without increasing their working hours?
We all know that one of the best things we can do as leaders/managers/business owners is to lead by example so here is a quick win that you can personally drive. Instead of sending emails at night, by all means, compose them but schedule them to be sent the following morning.
Over a short period of time, it is likely to be noticed by your team that you don’t send those late-night emails anymore and unless urgent you don’t actually send any out-of-hours emails anymore. Once your team clicks on, this it could quickly become the accepted culture of the whole business. Give it a try.
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