“I imagine this happens a lot, managers with a day full of high-leverage activities don’t get around to the less-important reminder type messages until later at night. They send an email so they don’t forget, and subordinates scramble to respond. Employees burn energy that should be recharging for the next day. Then they give themselves a big dose of self-fulfillment for doing something that — in reality — does’t help the company.This is totally the opposite of how work used to happen. Before email, if the boss contacted you after-hours it was most definitely a high-priority. It was probably even an emergency. They maybe even had to dig through your HR file to find your home phone number. There was a lot of friction involved in contacting people after hours. And that friction filtered out the low-priority messages.That friction no longer exists. Low-hanging fruit is just a forward button away from zapping into your inbox at 11 p.m., killing your down time and causing nervous sweats.”
As leaders, we need to recognize the ubiquity of communications channels, and resist the temptation to use them off hours unless they’re absolutely critical. If the building is burning down, by all means call the people you need to call. If it’s not important enough for that call, then don’t send an email. Queue it up if you must, but don’t send it until the morning.