Saturday, 25 January 2014

Steps for achieving a Work-Life Balance. Changing the 24/7 Email Culture - Part Two: The Results

On Monday 7th October I gave a presentation at a staff meeting suggesting that one small way in which we could achieve a greater work-life balance would be to reduce the number of emails that we send to colleagues in the evenings and at weekends.

The fundamental rationale behind this is that in many cases when we send an email to a colleagues we are 'putting the ball into their court' and place tacit pressure on them to reply. Now that many of us now have emails coming through to our phones and other mobile devices it is increasingly difficult to ignore work emails that come out of hours (see previous blogpost).

The Idea - No internal 'Out of Hours' Emails: At that staff meeting we agreed that, unless it is an emergency, we would endeavour not to send internal email at weekends or between 1900 and 0700 on weekdays.

The Results: The three month trial is now over and the results are really quite impressive: we have reduced our total email traffic by 37% over the same period in 2012. These figures are for all email traffic, both internal and external, so it is likely that our internal traffic has reduced by an even greater amount..
We have reduced our evening and weekend email traffic by 37%
The greatest impact has been in a change of culture: fewer 'out-of-hours' emails are being sent, there is a greater use of the 'delayed delivery' function (so a hand-full of emails come through at 0700), indeed, I suspect that fewer internal emails are being sent during the day. It is clear that the balance has tipped - the 'moral high ground' is with the person who has received an 'out of hours' email, rather than with the colleague who is working at the weekend and sent it. This empowers colleagues to feel that it is acceptable to ignore evening and weekend emails.   
The result is that the school is calmer. We are working smarter not longer. The whole exercise has meant that staff feel valued.
Achieving a term-time work-life balance in our school community remains a challenge, but we have taken one small step in the right direction, and that is appreciated by us all.

Many thanks to Dave Pacey, Berkhamsted School's Director of ICT, for producing these statistics.

Afternote (12/04/2014):
'When the French clock off at 6pm, they really mean it'  Guardian 09/04/2014

1 comment:


    Have you inspired a nation, Mr Steed? :)