OFFICE CULTURE: Phones & emails

In Blogs

It’s been a busy start to the year, but we’ve still managed to spend some time thinking about our office culture and what adjustments we should be making in 2017. Two announcements were made at Connect&GO recently, and each one was met with a slightly different reaction from the team.

Barring some kind of family emergency, we are now encouraged to keep our phones in our pockets (or even better – at our desks!) during team meetings. This way, we’ll avoid that distracting light telling us a text has come in, or we have a new match on Tinder. Just kidding, we’re not on Tinder. Just kidding, some of us are… :)
Ironically, our leadership team (the ones who actually came up with the idea) are probably the most stressed about putting it into practice. Checking their phones has become an almost uncontrollable habit and they admit to feeling slightly uncomfortable when they don’t have that little screen in full view. The fact is, we’re all totally dependent on our phones and the urge to check them regularly (even during important meetings) can be really, really, REALLY strong.
That said, everyone on the Connect&GO team is committed to giving this new approach a fair shot. We can all see the benefits: better communication, giving undivided attention to our colleagues and, ultimately, having more productive meetings… Still, it’s not easy to say goodbye to our phones for 45 mins or an hour at a time. We’ll let you know how it goes, but (just like kicking that post-holiday sugar addiction) we’re pretty sure we can do this, and we’ll be better for it in the end!

No one is expected to answer emails outside of work hours
This may seem like a surprising policy, but then Connect&GO is not your average work place. Leadership has decided to let the team know that, even though they may send out emails at all hours of the day and night, no one is expected to reply outside of regular business hours. If a matter is urgent, any member of the team can text or call the other person.
Work-life balance is more than just a catch phrase around here, and leadership wants to be clear they understand everyone has a life outside of work. While our CEO may find it most productive to knock a few things off his to-do list at 10pm on a Tuesday night, he’s not looking for a reply to those emails before Wednesday morning.
Many business owners expect employees to be on-call virtually 24/7, which can be an obvious source of ongoing stress for the employee. Negative associations with work can develop over time and, unsurprisingly, this can have a detrimental effect on the office culture in general.
We’ve shared our new office email etiquette with people we know in other industries and, in some cases, the response has been pretty extreme. A client of ours even said:

“Getting an email like that from my boss would change my life!”

Yup, we were all pretty thrilled about it and really appreciated the respectful gesture. Knowing your efforts are appreciated, but that your personal time is also respected, makes you feel good about coming into work each day and giving it your all. It’s a liberating feeling to be able to head to the gym for a few hours on a Wednesday evening knowing you won’t have to deal with a pile of emails immediately post-workout.
Those of us with kids are able to leave work knowing we can enjoy quality family time in the evenings, and not worry about dealing with emails right after bedtime stories.
Many entrepreneurs would be hesitant to tell their team they’re off the hook for after-work emails. Fear of losing control might overpower a manager’s basic concern for their employees’ well-being and personal time. One of our newer team members was shocked by the notice, and congratulated our leadership team on their brave move.

“Wow! First time I get this kind of email…
Congrats to both of you for sending it out!”

We’ll let you know how the transition goes… Will it be tough to stick to? Will we still check our work emails on Saturdays? We hope not, but then it can take a while for a new habit to really set in. We’ll do our best! 😉

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