The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Does Work Ever Stop?

Late For Work

The norm for business today seems to be 24/7 access to people. Whether its employees, vendors or clients – we feel we have to answer every call and email regardless of when or where we are. In some ways, this is a great advantage of working in the 21st century. Our work life balance can be enhanced, knowing that we are able to handle work related projects from anywhere in the world at any time.  from Harvard Business Review. Oct 2014 At the same time, when is enough enough?

There is an increasing voice today saying there is no such thing as work life balance. Rather there is an understanding that we have obligations to both our work and personal lives, and at any given moment we are doing our best to get both done. shares some great tips and reality checks on work life balance. Or maybe we just need to consider both obligations, with the realistic understanding that balance doesn’t mean 50/50. Rather balance might mean that we prioritize what is critical at any given moment and put our energy into that activity.

Unfortunately, technology has created an unwritten obligation where people feel if they don’t reply to an email within minutes your issue isn’t important to them.  Mangers like the ability to handle administrative tasks and repling to emails in the evening, but what message is being sent to the administrative team who feels guilty if they don’t reply? According to an article in Forbes which quoted a survey by Right Management, a division of Manpower, 42% of managers find themselves emailing employees after hours. While they may not always expect a reply, the subordinate feels pressure to address their managers issue.

Managers are likely not aware that this is a critical issue with the Fair Labor Standards Act. If the employee receiving and reading the email is a non-exempt employee, they must be paid for this time they are working. And yes, reading and answering a quick email is in fact work time. It is critical that managers understand who is entitled to pay under the fair labor standards act and classify their employees properly. To ensure you are classifying your employees properly, check out the Department of Labor page on the subject at FLSA on DOL site.

The world has arrived at a place where instantaneous information is the norm, but is that the culture you want to embed in your workplace and management team? A great tip is to write emails when they provide you the work life balance you want, then save them as a draft to be sent during work hours. Consider that next time you send that “urgent” email at 10pm!

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