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Work email etiquette

(63 Posts)
JazzyBBG Thu 07-Mar-19 18:57:28

Interested for views... in my company totally normal for people to email late at night, on weekends etc. You don't have to reply but people email.

Talking about this with some friends who said in their companies this would be totally unacceptable and they were shocked it still goes on, their company culture would be against it. So interested to know what is normal for people. Me and my husband both work all hours and with rise in flexible working I would have thought this was normal.
We are all UK based.

IncrediblySadToo Thu 07-Mar-19 21:57:43

What concerns me is that some people are doing this when they should be asleep or just not thinking about work, and the impact on their mental health this could bring

Why are you concerning yourself with how other adults choose to work? You’re not their Mammy.

ASauvignonADay Thu 07-Mar-19 21:45:16

(No one expects a reply out of work hours though, In fact my boss would comment if I was to reply to too many out of work or late at night)

ASauvignonADay Thu 07-Mar-19 21:44:38

Work in education and get emails at all hours. Including middle of the night from SLT occasionally! I guess it's personal decision to have work emails on your phone and if you do, I think it'd be unreasonable to moan about it.

SarahSnowdrop Thu 07-Mar-19 21:41:01

I think when you work in a global company and people are working across different timezones, emails are flying around 24 hours a day. I thought this was the norm to be honest. My email traffic is insane but

I do glance through my email before bed and first thing in the morning for peace of mind more than anything. I don't like surprises! However, I rarely reply unless I feel it is absolutely necessary as I don't want to set an expectation that I am available 24/7. 99.9% of emails can wait. Nothing about my job is life or death.

If you work in an old fashioned company, get ten emails a day then the boss emailing you at 11pm at night might stress you out.

LaurieMarlow Thu 07-Mar-19 21:33:22

Even if you are not expected to reply, it is stressful to start your working day opening up lots of emails sent overnight so you spend time playing catch up straight away.

In the nicest possible way, this is a very public sector way of looking at things.

ByStarlight Thu 07-Mar-19 21:22:41

Even if you are not expected to reply, it is stressful to start your working day opening up lots of emails sent overnight so you spend time playing catch up straight away.

But that only depends on the culture and expectations of your organization. Same as some PPs, I work for an international company and am involved in global projects with key stakeholders in Asia and the US. Along with most of my European colleagues, every day involves opening an inbox of at least 20 emails that were sent from colleagues in other regions during their working hours while we were asleep. It’s not a big deal, just the inevitable result of working with people in different time zones. People also don’t expect instant replies either, as they understand that our working day will begin when theirs has ended.

SellFridges Thu 07-Mar-19 21:21:09

Normal in my company. I’ve just looked and I’ve had an email from my bosses bosses boss. She wouldn’t expect me to reply though. Some days I would reply, some I wouldn’t.

In fact, some members of our team have started putting a note on their signature saying something like “we work flexibly so you may receive this email outside of your working hours. There’s no pressure to respond until you are working”.

LaurieMarlow Thu 07-Mar-19 21:17:24

Perfectly normal to email whenever it suits. No expectation to reply outside of normal hours (though I’ve worked in international environments where it was definitely worth it to keep an eye on email when projects were at key stages).

In one job, the boss decided to put ‘boundaries’ on emailing times because that was a trendy thing to do. So he decided we couldn’t email before 7am or after 8pm. hmm.

Such great work life balance there, thanks a fucking bunch.

Pinkprincess1978 Thu 07-Mar-19 21:10:38

I have no problem with it and also email at all hours. I don't expect a reply. If people don't want to work they don't have to open and look at an email.

WishIwas19again Thu 07-Mar-19 20:55:33

There were open debates about this in my previous workplace (public sector). Even if you are not expected to reply, it is stressful to start your working day opening up lots of emails sent overnight so you spend time playing catch up straight away. Also can result in people feeling they have to stay ahead of the game and respond out of hours, or follow suit for appearances sake then before you know it the whole culture has changed. On the other hand flexible working is a good thing for wellbeing and retention. It was agreed that senior managers (who at that time were the only ones permitted to work from home and have the IT/BlackBerry to do so) would put delayed send on their emails to stagger their receipt within the first hour or so of the working day (unless it was urgent). Suited everyone.

Cherrysoup Thu 07-Mar-19 20:50:34

We have a curfew system for weekends/holidays. No emails til 5pm on Sunday. I guess so people can relax and not see work emails pop up. Personally, I have to log into work emails but some have it on their phones. I think they’re mad, we’re not saving lives or anything.

VelvetPineapple Thu 07-Mar-19 20:50:06

I don’t see why it matters when people email, as long as you aren’t expected to reply outside of office hours. DH works for an international company and regularly gets emails from other time zones.

ForalltheSaints Thu 07-Mar-19 20:44:04

It happens from some people at my workplace, given the option for sometimes working from home and work smartphones. What concerns me is that some people are doing this when they should be asleep or just not thinking about work, and the impact on their mental health this could bring.

CrimpMyArse Thu 07-Mar-19 20:43:09

And yy to being available for the kids when they need it, rather that when it suits an employer. What a great way to grow up.

The critical bit here is expectation. I did have one client who the more responsive I was the more unreasonably demanding of attention she was. So for that client I only ever communicated at times when I was prepared to be available to her.

CrimpMyArse Thu 07-Mar-19 20:40:26

In the self-employed digital world there’s stuff flying round at all hours. Asynchronous comms are a huge boon to productivity and global working.

I’ve just had a quick chat now on instant messaging with three colleagues for something we’re doing tomorrow afternoon. Our kids are all in bed so we get a minute to think clearly and plan together.

Without the flex of always on comms I wouldn’t be able to work in this field at all. I’m disabled and need to rest and work in short stints and more spread out than normal office hours.

Restricting email sends to office hours would slow everything down to an unsustainable pace. Small business owners get stuff done in micro moments in between all the other stuff they need to do.

IAmNotAWitch Thu 07-Mar-19 20:30:30

Like a PP upthread I work in an International company so don't really have "office hours" as such. The trade off is I don't have "office hours" grin No one care when I do my work as long as it is done and I show up if I am needed.

I much prefer this, it works very well with my partner and kids. DH and I both work a lot but we do it around the kids and each other so as far as they are concerned they have their parents available all the time.

If attending a meeting ar 2am my time means I can go to a school event etc then it works for me.

opinionatedfreak Thu 07-Mar-19 20:14:25

This is a growing issue. I've had workplace training about constant connectedness contributing to burnout.

I'm a "funny times" email-er because I have some flexibility in my working hours and sometimes 7-11pm on Sunday is the best time to beast my admin. This enhances my work-life balance.

I don't expect people to read those emails out of hours though.

I would send "in hours" if i had better delayed sending software but outlook web doesn't support that.

I don't check work email outside my working hours and definitely not when I'm on holiday.

The dept mgt team all visibly sign off on our group what's app for holidays too. Although our boss did have to reiterate that leaving the group meant she didn't want any work related what's app msg's while she was off as one of my colleagues hassled her ++ about something over Xmas via personal what's app. 😮

I get a bit frustrated by colleagues who complain about the time I send emails because I don't understand why if it bothers them so much they are checking their email!!

Only a few v. senior people have the ability to get email directly to their phone via a mail client the rest of us have to manually log in via outlook web so checking work email is an active process.

Jokie Thu 07-Mar-19 20:11:43

Yep, entirely normal but there's also not the expectation that you'd read and reply outside of office hours.

When it's critical/out of hours work then it may be required but other than that, it's fine.

We're in a flex organisation so we have people starting from 6am and some who finish at 8-9pm so the potential working day could be quite long anyway

herethereandeverywhere Thu 07-Mar-19 20:11:36

I work in an international organisation in a middle-senior role, the senior management could be anywhere in the world and emailing a team across all key time zones.

I find it quaint and faintly antiquated that an entire organisation could work 9-5 in one timezone then all switch off. It obviously works for some places but not all.

I think the key point is the obligation to respond. Unless it's in your job description to work 'over and above your prescribed hours when necessary' then there should be no need to so. As I work in legal and certain crises need advising upon and managing without delay, I can't just walk away at 5pm my time. However, unlike my previous role in private practice, where I had to be 'on' and giving 100% about 80 hours a week; here it's give and take. So I might do a conference call at 9pm my time (to ensure everyone from Paris to New York to Sydney can join) but if I want to work from home and go to the supermarket or hairdressers in the middle of the day I will.
I check my email on my days off in case anything urgent comes in and to minimise catch up on my return. Im very disciplined at only responding to the stuff with the required urgency unless it's during my working hours. It works perfectly with a family as 5-8pm is 'sort the kids out' time but after 8pm I can carry on working if needed (usually calls with other timezones, I try to minimise written work at that time unless absolutely urgent).

OP, if you don't have to respond then don't. Don't let the working habits of others bother you.

Palegreenstars Thu 07-Mar-19 20:06:52

@Trills I have wording like this on my email. I work full time in a senior role but that means I work the hours needed to get the job done not 9-5. It’s great as I can be flexible around my toddler and other priorities outside of work. I can’t imagine being told to only email between 9 and 5 it would be so inefficient.

ideasofmarch Thu 07-Mar-19 20:05:08

I work in an organisation that has customers all over the world, and I get emails at all times of the day and night, and at weekends too.

However, I only ever look at work emails when I am actually at work during normal working hours and never at any other time. I wouldn't dream of accessing them any other time. Not a chance.

lampygirl Thu 07-Mar-19 20:01:38

My office based job element is based on office hours, but the site work element can be all hours. I'll always send an internal e-mail as I think of it, e.g. been on this site and this is broken/missing/needs looking at in the morning as whilst it doesnt need dealing with til the morning when someone comes in in the office, it probably does want to be looked at before I get in if I've finished at 6am. If i'm just doing a bit of catchup at home in peace of an evening because it suits me and they are quotes or other external e-mails i'll usually leave them in my outbox and send at 9am because I don't want to encourage external people to expect an out of hours response on a regular basis for day to day things. There are a few people who can call me any hour but not many. There's no hard and fast rule but I can't say I think it makes people feel pressured, they can choose the same way i do what to send/not send/reply to/ignore til morning.

cricketballs3 Thu 07-Mar-19 19:58:36

I send and receive emails at night/weekends but no one is expected to respond at these times it's just the easiest time for my profession (teaching).

topcat2014 Thu 07-Mar-19 19:58:23

@CloserIam2fine - my decent salary is because of the work I am required to do during working hours - they haven't bought my life off me smile

topcat2014 Thu 07-Mar-19 19:57:18

@sarahsnowdrop - not 'mythical' in my world, as a finance director in a small manufacturing company. Work is work and home is home.

I always say that "if you died, there would be someone else at your desk before your funeral takes place"

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