How quickly do you feel you have to reply/respond/react to an email? How quickly do you expect your people to reply/respond to emails?
I have been thinking of late about how we are working. The constant pressures of email, social media, texts, phone calls and the like mean that we are “always on”.
This has a number of side effects which I believe are unhealthy and lead to a a range of issues for firms and the people in them. Recent posts by my fellow Fellows of Verasage point to increased incidence of depression amongst lawyers. To be honest, I am seeing a lot of this in other professions as well.
Due to the constant pressures we have now to be available 24/7 and respond almost immediately to customer/staff queries, we have lost access to one of our most powerful offerings – considered and developed advice based on wisdom and experience. By not having the time to fully think about the issues at hand, we aren’t allowing ourselves the best opportunity to create and offer value.
Think about many of the requests you get – most of them aren’t really time critical but we have developed a self-imposed obligation to respond asap. This is dangerous and unhealthy.
The other issue that comes from this is that we no longer have the “peace and quiet” available to think freely and create innovative stuff. Consider the success of “Google Time” and other approaches taken by businesses that are renowned as great places to work (eg: Atlassian) – much of their success is directly attributable to the time they allow their people to create and innovate. Imagine what would happen if they changed their approach and required their people to report their efforts based on time spent?
With all of the above in mind, I was heartened to read a recent post by Richard Watson. He argues that the 24/7 lifestyle we are currently living is unhealthy and does not lead to what can be great, human outcomes.
It is incumbent on all of us as business owners, leaders, managers and team members to encourage ourselves and the people with whom we work to slow down. Quicker is not always better. Considered is better. Reply properly, do not react.
Next time you get an email, think about when you will respond and what you really need to think about before you respond. Otherwise it will just be a reaction.