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protecting life/work balance

(29 Posts)
PlasticBertrand Mon 16-Jan-17 11:20:13

Writing this in a pissy mood off the back of a faintly snotty email from an (older, male, childless) colleague this morning asking why I hadn't replied to a doodle he sent on Friday afternoon for an utterly fucking pointless meeting in three weeks' time. As it happens I spent the weekend cuddling a poorly toddler and mopping up puke. I've bitten my tongue and replied politely but honestly... I try and have a policy of not working at the weekend. Just wondering how everyone else manages. Would that email have pissed you off too? Those of you with a 48-hour email reply policy at your institutions (we don't), does that include weekends? What do you do to protect your life/work balance?

kalidasa Mon 16-Jan-17 22:47:40

I don't work on evenings or weekends either. I work a lot with professional services colleagues now because I have a more senior role and actually that helps with that because they observe ordinary working hours pretty strictly most of the time. Personally I think I am much more efficient and have better judgement because I am not overworking.

Parietal Mon 16-Jan-17 23:30:47

i'd shrug & ignore an email like that. in general, I work evenings when it suits me but almost never at weekends. and I often put an auto-reply on saying that I'm travelling (even sometimes when I'm not) if I don't want to be bothered with silly things like this.

some very senior colleagues in my Uni always put funny autoreplies saying (effectively), I'm spending time with family and won't reply until XX and no body minds.

MarasmeAbsolu Tue 17-Jan-17 19:11:20

I would be pissed off yes - but like parietal, i have OOO messages that i use liberally to avoid this type of annoyance.
This is maybe worth a note to your athena swan committee? Ours have introduced an email campaign to prevent this from students and staff alike.

ThisYearWillbeBetter Tue 17-Jan-17 22:12:47

Our Dean is quite strict with is about not creating a rod for our own backs with email. When people complain about the email burden, she suggests we limit email answering to a specific hour of each day, and never look at it at the weekends. The fact that the Dean says this means we are all empowered to deal with email strictly within working hours. As HoD, I regularly request that colleagues don't answer student emails outside of normal working hours and never at the weekend.

So I would have ignored a colleagues' email like that - or, responded at 9am on Monday morning (or possibly 6am to show off) that I don't look at work email on the weekends.

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Wed 18-Jan-17 11:43:37

We are also supported not to answer emails on weekends/holidays and our Dean banned all but extremely essential communications from central management/admin for a couple of weeks over Dec and a few weeks in the summer, it's lovely.

We do have a 48 hour response policy for students but that is two working days, not weekends. It's not for colleagues though, we all just pester each other if someone forgets something!

Closetlibrarian Wed 18-Jan-17 14:59:31

We too are supported to not respond to emails after 6pm/ before 9am and on weekends. I don't think it's enshrined in policy, but I cannot imagine anyone at my institution (or at least, in my faculty) getting away with writing an email like the one you received.

Can you try to get something similar set-up/ agreed on where you work?

PlasticBertrand Wed 18-Jan-17 15:56:00

Thanks all. No Athena Swan here (not in the UK) and a very hierarchical, traditional setup so I don't think a no weekend emails policy coming from a lowly bottom-rung bod such as myself would fly. Never mind. I'm heartened to hear that some of you do have such policies in place - maybe they'll percolate their way here eventually.

PippaFawcett Wed 18-Jan-17 16:01:27

I would ignore an email like that and fill in the Poll as and when I felt like it. I could spend all day every day just replying to emails and I feel no need to justify myself to a colleague like that. But yes, it would piss me off. Also, when I'm organising meetings I send out a Poll, a reminder email some time later (week or more) and if people still haven't filled in the Poll, I pick the best date and time and communicate that. Emails are out of control! I wish we had a limit on how many we were all allowed to send.

ThisYearWillbeBetter Wed 18-Jan-17 17:28:20

We have a 3 working days answer to students policy, and our own judgement in the vacations. I'm very clear with students about this.

ThisYearWillbeBetter Wed 18-Jan-17 17:31:41

so I don't think a no weekend emails policy coming from a lowly bottom-rung bod such as myself would fly

Would a more passive-aggressive grin approach work for your situation then? That you don't answer over the w/e but do answer 1st thing Monday morning. With no comment or response to his snotty (and frankly, out of order) email.

every time I read these sorts of threads, I thank my lucky stars for my current job. It's in a place I'd rather not be living in, but almost everything else about it is great! (Except the workload & minority of snowflake students but that's normal)

impostersyndrome Wed 18-Jan-17 22:19:04

I'm fairly senior and shout loudly from the rooftops that I don't reply to anything after 6pm or on the weekend and therefore no who works with me need do otherwise. (actually my email is switched off at source at those times. Bliss.)

I am also trying to get colleagues across the Faculty to observe the requirements to have essential meetings in core hours. It's an uphill struggle but I'll get there. I don't care about making a nuisance of myself amongst my macho working till midnight colleagues.

Don't feel bad. You have your priorities in just the right place.

ThisYearWillbeBetter Wed 18-Jan-17 22:33:41

Yup, quite standard to have meetings between 9:30am and afternoon meetings finishing by 4pm.

We all need to have the opportunity to stick to standard hours for teaching and admin stuff.

BackforGood Wed 18-Jan-17 22:38:48

See, rather than saying 'I don't do work e-mails at weekends', I'd turn it round and say "My working days are Monday - Friday"

I actually work Part time, and have that as part of my e-mails signature "My working days are XYZ" - anyone who can read, can see that.

MarasmeAbsolu Wed 18-Jan-17 23:15:20

one of my colleague insists on a weekly breakfast team meeting at 7.30am with his juniors.
He sees it as a way to ascertain authority and see whether all his people will jump the hoops - I feel sorry for those who won't/cannot/refuse - yet, noone ever stamped on his practice despite Athena Swan type of "commitment".

I have actually never seen anyone really confronted for their poor practice (emails, meetings, workload split) by anyone in management - makes me think that we have some weak leaders in our management tree [hmm not really breaking news...]

IamAporcupine Wed 18-Jan-17 23:24:52

I unfortunately work evenings and weekends if needed sad
my own choice and I should change that

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Thu 19-Jan-17 09:46:20

Marasme I have declined meetings before 8/8.30am, as you are right, it's often a power play 'look how busy I am, so busy I have to hold this meeting at an ungodly hour'. If the person wouldn't accept it or was rude about it, I'd definitely take it to the Head of Department, you can't make out it's essential to have a meeting at 7.30am!

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Thu 19-Jan-17 09:47:11

Iam I do work evenings and weekends as well, but the point is that that's my choice of how to manage my workload. I don't think it's reasonable for employers to demand you answer emails/admin/have meetings during those times.

Closetlibrarian Thu 19-Jan-17 10:02:33

I think most academics work evenings and weekends, but I still don't respond to emails from colleagues or students after 6ishpm or before 9am. I do sometimes respond to emails from outside my organisation outside of these hours if it pertains to my own research activities . (I also often send emails outside of 'working hours' because I catch up on such stuff in the evenings. But I don't expect a response)

OP, in your situation where there's going to be no institutional policy on this going forward I would set up an out-of-office for internal mail only between 6pm and 9am and on weekends that says something like ('My working hours are Monday-Friday 9am-6pm and I respond to emails during this time')

ThisYearWillbeBetter Thu 19-Jan-17 10:29:42

Yes, ClosetLibrarian that's my policy as well. Or rather, I choose which emails I answer outside of Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm.

MarasmeAbsolu Thu 19-Jan-17 10:42:41

I also work evening and WE, but just because it's my "choice" - if someone started to demand that I do work out-of-hours, that willingness would quickly vanish!

IamAporcupine Thu 19-Jan-17 10:48:06

Foureyesarebetterthantwo I agree, I didn't phrase that properly I meant that I do reply to emails in the evening/weekends and that I should change that.
One weekend my boss sent me a few emails during the weekend which I didn't reply (can't remember why) and on Monday he asked me if everything was ok. shock

PlasticBertrand Fri 20-Jan-17 08:45:35

Thanks everyone. It turns out that the only slot for the meeting that works for everyone but me is starting at half five in the evening. He's asked me to see if I can juggle my diary to make it. I'm going to say sorry, no smile the fightback starts here!

Closetlibrarian Fri 20-Jan-17 09:46:50

'juggle your diary'. If only one could give him the finger and say 'juggle this'. In your head, at least!

PlushVelvet Fri 20-Jan-17 10:18:48

Not unreasonable to say no, my other commitment at 17:30 is not juggleable. No need to give a reason. Core working hours stip at somewhere between 17:00 and 18:00 as far as I'm concerned.

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