Weekend Poll: Setting Boundaries

I kid you not!

BBC News published the headline, “Banning out-of-hours email ‘could harm employee wellbeing‘” on October 19, 2019. As the article explained, “University of Sussex researchers found while a ban could help some staff switch off, it could also stop people achieving work goals, causing stress.”

More than one reader flagged this for me, and suggested it was a good topic for one of my Weekend Polls. I’ve asked readers in previous years about the extent to which you dedicate personal time to your roles. This year, I’m back with those same questions and adding some new ones.

In France, meanwhile …

It’s been almost three years since French legislation referred to as the “right to disconnect” came into force on January 1, 2017. In France, organisations employing more than 50 people are required to have in place a “charter of good conduct”. In a country already known for – among many other qualities – 35-hour work weeks, this legislation requires such employers to identify and honour the hours during which employees are to neither send or respond to emails.

Wellbeing and frequency of checking email

Research conducted by the University of BC, barely 15 minutes from my own home, looked at the frequency with which people check email during their work hours. Findings (Kushlev, Dunn) published in February 2015 showed that study participants who were restricted to checking their email only three times during the work day were “found to be less stressed than those who could check their emails continuously”.

While the report authors noted that the frequency with which people checked their email didn’t directly impact other wellbeing outcomes, they observed that lower daily daily stress “predicts greater well-being”.

Then there’s the matter of the environment

18_9323 Struan_Isle_Of_Skye Copyright Shelagh DonnellyIt sometimes takes a while for different concepts to sink in. Recent calls for people to reduce email usage speak to individuals’ and organisations’ carbon footprints. Insights on the impact of our day to day habits are not new.

Articles calling for attention to email-related environmental impacts have been published before this decade. In fact, it was late 2016 or early 2017 that French engery regulators encouraged businesses to conserve energy by reducing email usage. It’s not merely our email usage we can consider; we rely on multiple technologies that also impact the environment.

More on sustainability to follow

While this Weekend Poll is focusing on email in the context of establishing boundaries in support of personal wellbeing, I’m in the process of assembling a Real Careers panel exploring the role assistants around the globe can take in positively impacting sustainability.

Real Careers alum Sofie Koark and I have been (ironically) e-discussing this important topic in recent months, and I’m in the process of reaching out to a limited number of other assistants in various countries to join this panel.

If you’re involved in workplace initiatives to be kinder to our planet and would like to be considered for this panel, please comment on this post or drop me an email at ExceptionalEAs@gmail.com. I won’t promise that all interested assistants will find a place on the panel; I do commit to trying to form a panel that’s representative of different locales, sectors, countries and views.

Focusing on emails

For this weekend, the focus is all about …Laptop-and-iphone-in-hand-courtesy-Wiliam-Iven-Unsplash

Setting boundaries: email and more

Please take a couple of minutes to complete the poll below.

High performerWorkaholicI've reached a happy mediumWhat's the difference?
I agree; it would stress me outI agree; different people approach work and goals differentlyI disagree; it's total rubbishI disagree; how have we as a society reached such a state?
NeverRarelyEvery day of the week, including weekends1 day/night a week2 days/nights a week3 days/nights a week4 days/nights a week5 days/nights a week6 days/nights a week
YesNoNo, but that's because I drive; otherwise, I probably would
<7 hours7 hours7-8 hours8-9 hours9-10 hours10-11 hours11-12 hours>12 hours
NeverRarelyOnce or twice a quarterAlmost dailyOnce or twice a month3-5 days a month6-10 days a month11-15 days a month>15 days a month
YesYes; it's expectedTo some extent; I downplay thisNoNo; I don't want people thinking I can't keep up with the pace
NeverRarelyOnce or twice a quarterAlmost dailyOnce or twice a month3-5 days a month6-10 days a month11-15 days a month>15 days a month
6:00 PM7:00 PM8:00 PM9:00 PM10:00 PM11:00 PMMidnight1:00 AM2:00 AM3:00 AMI start early instead and work long hours
YesYes; it's expectedTo some extent; I downplay thisNoNo; I don't want people thinking I can't keep up with the pace
I'm still relatively new in the roleMy skills and/or lack of experience are among the factorsEventsMeetingsWorkload, including unexpected projects/situations
Yes, I'm financially compensatedYes, I'm compensated in time off - and I take itYes, I'm compensated in time off - but don't usually take off the accrued timeNo


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