Don’t Communicate After Office Hours

The time after office hours end is the time when each person should choose what he/she would choose to do. That’s why it’s called after hours.

If you are a manager and you call or email your subordinates after working hours, the impact on your people is going to be a stressful one regardless of the the subject.

after office hours

Photo Unsplash

As a leader you should first manage yourself and then the others. If you do a poor job managing your time, there is no reason to “penalize” your people with the same approach. Or worse, if it’s not even about something urgent; you just feel you can talk/write about this subject, assuming that the recipient is also willing to discuss during his spare time.

I know you have a bunch of projects with deadline tomorrow and now it’s eight o’clock, but you are the only one to blame for the situation.

Maybe the employee has something else to do rather than wait for a call or email, so you can fill his night or even weekend. It’s not like he/she is on call, available 24 hours.

If you can’t help it, imagine that you play with your kid after he/she waited for your return eagerly. When you’re in the midst of a game, a colleague calls asking about a damn excel. The same thing can happen when you are the one calling.

The simple fact that an employee has a work phone, it’s not a by default statement that you can call when and how you choose. It is still an invasion of privacy and family time. It’s his/her choice to put the phone on silent or to turn off email notifications.

Don’t even send “neutral” emails – the kind that don’t require a response – the effect is just the same.

DON’T send any text messages with “Can I call you?”

Obviously there are some exceptions:

  • When there is a real emergency that cannot wait until the next (working) day;
  • Exception means rarely to none. You cannot do this three times per week, before Monday evening;
  • If it’s a crisis. For example the Company Facebook Page might explode due to a public mess one of the employees pulled;
  • If the job specific involves some over time (shifts or handling an email address non-stop);
  • When an employee is sick and you ask about his/her health;
  • Sending (silent) emails in the morning before office hours;
  • The first rule applies only if it’s a real emergency.

Respect your people and their spare time, and they are going to respect yours.

The same principles apply to colleagues, not just to managers.

I am mentioning all these so you won’t be in a situation of receiving out of office messages such as below:

  • I don’t have access to my email; if this is an emergency, please call 911;
  • Please wait and I will answer ASAP, when I come back. Wait;
  • I am not at the office right now. Unfortunately I will be there tomorrow.

Good luck keeping Out of Office!