I really don’t care what time you send that email. And if your manager, your supervisor, your company leadership is smart, they wouldn’t either.
A little over a month ago, I was at a conference of business leaders. Of course, one of the topics for a breakout session was Managing Employees in a Remote Environment. Early in, discussion was good, and mostly focused around trust being the key to success for remote workers.
My first question in my head: wouldn’t trust be the key to success for all workers?
And then, the conversation took a really, really bad turn.
It turned to burnout. That’s not the bad part. Burnout led to making sure workers were not overly-accessing their computers, email, projects, etc. Which led to what times it was ok to send emails.
It wasn’t ok for employees to send emails early in the morning. Nothing before about 7:30am. It wasn’t ok for them to send them after 6pm, either. Oh, and leaders need to practice what they preach — so draft up your emails at whatever time you need, and then use that really great feature in Microsoft that lets you delay send that message, setting it for a time that’s appropriate.
I thought we had been talking about trust – and now we’re discussing how to micromanage our team down to when they can or cannot send emails? And, we’re going to do just the opposite, but lie to our team members about it at the same time?
Here’s my take. Yes, remote workers, hybrid workers, and those who go into the office all of the time – the key to their success and the team’s success is rooted in trust. Trust is gained through solid communication, too. As you communicate with your workers, it’s important to continually check in with them to see how things are going. Balance is what you’re looking for, and what will be the antidote to burnout. Absolutely, talk to your team, all of the time, and encourage over and over the need for these things, whether they work remote or not.
Balance also means you trust your employees to work when it’s best for them. If getting up, sending those five emails at 5am in the morning is best for them, no judgement. They might be more clear-headed when things are quiet around their house. They might want to get things out of the way before helping to get their kids ready for their days. Who knows why they want to do it at that hour, but you trust them to do it when it’s best for them, and they shouldn’t have to delay a message send time in order to make it work.
As the discussion at my table kept going downhill, I piped in. “Just the other day, while working at home, I decided that I wanted to make my family a nice dinner. I ended up cooking it, from scratch, which took about 2 hours. Those were hours in the afternoon I wasn’t working, and was finding my balance. That also meant that after the kids went to bed, and my spouse and I had some time to check in with one another, I opened up my laptop and began working again. Yes, I was sending emails after 9pm.”
You see, just because emails were sent early, or sent late, doesn’t mean that the employee is working in over drive, and destination burnout is fast approaching. The opposite, really. It’s all in the trust you have with your employees to know what needs to be done. When and how it happens should be up to them.
You need to trust yourself, too, and know that you are communicating and supporting your people appropriately so they know how to find as much balance as possible. If burnout for anyone is headed their way, it should be recognized and measured in other ways – not by the time stamp on an email.