Employ an old rule while using today’s tech

Posted on Friday, July 12, 2019 by Gary Hunt


Ernie Smith at Associations Now has a knack for diving into seemingly esoteric technical topics and explaining them in fun and informative ways, both at ASAE and at his side gig. This week he raised a question for communicators and business people of all stripes: Should you send your team emails on Sunday night?

From an organizational perspective, we’ve intentionally chosen that time to deliver a premium product – our Legislative Update email – to select members. The reason? C-level leaders have told us Sunday night is a good time to reach them because that’s when they’re gearing up for their week, and they receive relatively few emails at that time.

But what about on an internal, individual level? As Smith explains, off-hours emails can lead to mistakes, and stress and extra work for subordinates.

Obviously, both organizations and individuals need to find ways to use email that are effective within their own business cultures. But a part of the solution for everyone is to follow the Golden Rule, both as an email sender and receiver. No matter which end of the email you find yourself on, be conscientious:

  • - As a sender, think about how your message might be interpreted, and make liberal use of the "delay delivery" feature so the recipient gets it at a time convenient to them. If you can delay delivery to their normal work hours, you should. Remember, your goal is to effectively communicate something at the proper time, not to merely clear an item off your to-do list.
  • - As a recipient, ask yourself: Did the person really send the email because it requires immediate attention, or did they just have a minute to kill? Chances are, you can file it away to read later.
  • - Bear in mind that different people view email in different ways. While you might view a late-night email notification as a cause for stress, periodic email checks might be how your boss avoids both stress and the inbox mountain that would otherwise greet her on Monday morning.

If you haven’t done so, take time soon to have a discussion in your organization so your teammates understand when it’s necessary to step away from a family function to reply to email, and – hopefully much more typically – when it isn’t.

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