Does your boss send you emails at all hours? Are you expected to respond immediately to answer work email at home — either in a clear “policy” way or in an unspoken, pissy-but-won’t-tell-you-why way? Do you try to draw a line in the sand and purposely not reply during certain hours, even if you get the email? If you’re a supervisor or boss, do you make an intentional effort to not send email during nights and weekends? I’ve seen a lot of friends and readers bringing up this issue lately, so I thought we’d discuss.
Looking back — the BlackBerry hit the market when I was a second or third year in BigLaw. It was a sea change — before that you had to be sitting at a computer to log in to check your email. I remember feeling like a rebel by setting my BlackBerry to turn off automatically every weeknight from 12am to 6 am, and (gasp!) 10 PM to 8 AM on weekends. (I mostly did this because — without fail! — we’d get what amounted to a spam digest alert every single morning at 4 AM. My BB would vibrate loudly on the table in the tiny studio apartment I lived in then, waking me up and causing stress.) Now that everyone has an iPhone, though, I feel like it’s every industry — no longer just lawyers, and no longer just high level employees. For a while you could refuse to have work email on your phone, but I don’t even think that’s an option any more, at least for most workers. Of course, a lot of this comes down to “know your office” — as well as “know your boss.”