Turn off your emails so you can relax for the holidays

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The Business Optimizer team has a new strategy this year for beating holiday stress. Enjoy a truly relaxing holiday this year: learn how to unwind and switch off – starting with turning off your emails.

Does the idea of switching off your emails and ignoring all your work-related digital communications sound radical to you?

Digital communications have blurred the lines between “home” and “work”. And the need to work from home during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic has served to blur the lines even further. It can be hard to know when to put down your phone and stop answering work emails when you’ve been working at home on the same device all day.

The right to disconnect

The need to separate work and home life is well documented. Counterintuitively, not knowing when to switch off can result in workers becoming less productive. In the worst cases, it can lead to problems of burnout.

Some countries have tried to tackle this issue head-on. In France, workers have the “right to disconnect”. This means that, for companies with more than 50 employees, employees are protected from the expectation of being available outside working hours.

The legislation, which was introduced in France in 2017, forbids employers from expecting their employees to engage in communications, such as emails, outside of working hours.

Disconnecting during the holidays to enjoy a relaxing vacation

For those of us who do not have legislation on our side, how should we negotiate the tricky issue of turning off your emails over the holidays in order to reduce seasonal stress?

Workers can have a relaxing holiday by:

  • Turning off notifications.
  • Setting your out of office with an upbeat message that manages expectations and outlines clear lines of escalation.

Managers can have a relaxing holiday by:

  • Respecting staff vacation time.
  • Speaking with staff to understand their feelings and to set clear expectations and encourage them not to respond during their vacation time.
  • Ensuring all staff turn on their out-of-office notifications when they are not at work. Provide a best practice template with all the essential links they will need to include in their notification.
  • Not sending emails to staff that can wait until after the holidays. Even if you’re not expecting a reply immediately, staff my feel pressure to respond. If it can wait, don’t send it.

Self-employed and small business owners can have a relaxing holiday by:

  • Using your website to give customers plenty of advance notice about days when you won’t be responding to emails or shipping goods, if you’re closing during the holiday period.
  • Emailing clients to let them know when you’re closing, when you’re reopening and what service levels they can expect in between.
  • Including links in your out-of-office notifications which direct your customers to a frequently asked questions page and your online store so they can self-serve as far as possible.
  • Properly briefing in any temps that you bring in to deliver holiday cover for you. Developing a comprehensive FAQ booklet can prevent things escalating.

Managing expectations goes a long way to reducing holiday stress and having a relaxing holiday – not just for yourself and your team, but also for your customers too. Communicate early, clearly and repeatedly, so everyone knows when and how to communicate with you.

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