The Internet has allowed people on opposite ends of the globe to communicate with each other instantaneously. Through e-mail, text, social media, video chat, and group messaging, we’re connected to each other no matter where we are.
For work, this means that employees working remotely can be in constant contact with coworkers in the main office. Employees working at other branches or in other countries can be in touch immediately.
But how much contact is too much? Some bosses use instant communication tools to contact their employees at all hours of the day, even when their employees are not at work. This prevents employees from truly having time off. They’re still working, even if they’re taking PTO or are using a sick day.
Even while they’re at work, employees may find their concentration interrupted by unessential texts and messages.
Comply with the Law
Many employees check their work texts and e-mails after hours or even when they’re out sick or taking PTO. In some cases, the employer expects it. In many countries, contacting employees after work hours is actually now illegal. While most of these countries are in Europe, some areas of the United States are introducing bills to curtail the practice.
Make sure that your company policies on after-hours contact are in compliance with all laws for your location.
Review Company Policy
The first step is to review your company’s policies. Are employees contacted when they’re not in the office just working from home? If the contact is genuinely after hours or during leave, are employees expected to respond? If there are certain positions within your company that require after-hours contact, is that made clear in the job description? Are employees paid extra for being on-call after hours?
Remind employees that just because they received an e-mail after hours doesn’t mean they have to immediately respond to it. Encourage them to wait until they get in the next morning to address them. Reserve text messages and phone calls only for actual emergencies.
Give Employees a Break
If employees are unnecessarily working even when they’re supposed to be off from work, you run the risk of burning them out. For any employees who aren’t on-call after hours, giving them a break from work will actually make them more motivated and productive. Letting your employees relax and enjoy their time off will also make them less likely to leave, reducing turnover.
Constant communication can also interrupt employees at work. While some positions require communication and management, others require focus. For employees in these positions, allowing them to set limits on when they read and respond to e-mails could help them be more productive. Keeping unessential communication to a minimum can also help improve focus. If there’s an emergency, employees can be informed in person or via phone call.
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