I get lots of comments about my email signature.
As I am self-employed I often choose a flexibility outside of 9–5 which means that I am replying to this email at a time which is convenient to me. However I have no expectation that you will reply outside of your own chosen or agreed working hours! Please enjoy your leisure and rest time as much as I do mine.
I set this as my email signature as a response to receiving a disturbing amount of semi-immediate replies at strange times of the evening and weekends from people I knew didn’t have the same kind of flexible work hours that I’ve chosen. With spiralling levels of workplace stress in the sector I really didn’t want to be even a small contributor to that with people imagining that I was grinding my teeth at not getting an asap reply so jumping straight to it.
Yet reconciling this with my own desire to work and do other activities more in synch with my own natural rhythm rather than as mandated (for instance, right now it is 6:45pm on a Sunday, I am writing this in my office and having a blast) left two choices. One is what we have here, and the other, as an associate also suggested this week, is to attempt to schedule all my replies and sendings so that they only land within other people’s work hours (if known).
This is why I decided to go with the signature approach over scheduling:
- Knowing someone’s expectations of you, in black and white, makes for better working relationships. I really don’t expect anywhere near immediate replies because if it was actually urgent I would call.
- Beyond letting people know that they don’t need to email me back on a Sunday if they get something from me, it also lets them know please don’t necessarily expect me to be on it at 9am on a Tuesday morning, or 3pm on a Wednesday just because they’re traditional working hours.
- It is important to treat one another as the fully autonomous and capable adults that we are, rather than attempt to shield the reality of our differing choices. I think people should be able to consciously decide not to read or reply to me.
- Being a role model with your work ethic (as we should all strive to be because, undeniably, our behaviours is mirrored by those around us) means not only showcasing motivation and grit but showcasing joy and healthy choices too. The final sentence lets me convey that.
What do you think about this? Can you suggest your own alternative which beats the signature and scheduling approaches? Always keen to learn.