Weekend Email?

An argument against.

January 20, 2021

Do you send or respond to work email on the weekend?

This year, at this time, I’m making an effort to do neither. My thinking is that we all need a break. Our productivity will be better if we can use the weekends to recharge.

If an email can wait until Monday, then it should.

Of course, there are always emergencies. Things that need to be attended to “right now.” So I still read my email over the weekend.

What I am not advocating is a weekend email ban. Instead, more an anti-email weekend norm.

And I’ll admit to still writing emails on the weekend. The difference now is that I use that handy “send later” function in Outlook to queue up the email to send automatically early Monday morning.

Would I respond to an email over the weekend from the provost, the president, a trustee or a dean? You bet your ass. While I have my theories on workplace productivity and resilience, I like my job better.

Will I email my co-author on the weekend? About a million times.

So my attempt to not send or reply to emails on the weekend only works if those above me in the institutional hierarchy also adhere to this guideline.

Fortunately, at my institution, the work-life balance (and sanity) of staff and faculty seem to be an authentic leadership priority. (I got the no-weekend-email idea from the provost). I wonder how widespread that leadership priority is across higher ed?

One answer to the question about how to judge the wisdom of moving to another institution that Dean Dad got might be to ask about weekend emails.

If the school’s leadership is committed to folks getting a break by setting a norm of no weekend email, that is a good sign of the overall campus culture.

Should no email norms extend to evenings? How about holidays?

Is this discussion of academic emailing etiquette, in reality, a conversation about privilege?

How does the diffusion of alternative communications platforms such as Slack and Zoom, combined with near-universal remote academic work among higher ed professionals during the pandemic, impact decisions about working versus nonworking times?

Do you plan to send or respond to emails this weekend?


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