Email Heroes – Are you one?

For most of their careers, my parents could never check their work email at home.  It did mean that they probably stopped working when they got home, unlike most professional employees today.  My parents also rarely made it home at 5 pm and worked in the office many Saturdays and Sundays when the work needed to get done. The world changed, we can now get work done almost anywhere.

When did we start defining work as sitting in the bathroom at home and replying to emails in five minutes as work?

Let’s face it, most people aren’t really working when they are home if they don’t normally work at home.  They like to believe that what they’re doing is real work, but if can also wait to be done the next morning when you arrive at the office, you’re not doing real work, you’re just narcissistic.  Oh, I better immediately get back to John and tell him I can definitely do that interview at 8 am, next week Friday…

We act like checking work email at home is the same as donating a kidney or something.

Studies show that 59% of males and 42% of females respond to emails when out of the office.  Those numbers actually sound low to me. The survey also shows that younger workers are more likely to think about work when going to bed and when waking. Just wait! Pretty soon thinking about work will be the same as work!

Are we losing our f’ing minds!?

Seriously! I want to know.  Having the ability to check and respond to emails outside of the office increase your work-life flexibility, but we talk about it like it’s an anchor.  That iPhone is only an anchor if you make it an anchor!  I have a son who plays baseball and I watch as many of his games as I can.  In between innings I always check my email and respond to work if necessary. I do not consider that work. I consider that watching my son play baseball!

Making the decision to take a half a day to watch my son play baseball is easy, because I know I can balance both jobs I have, running a company and being a Dad.  Does my son care that I’m checking email while he’s warming up in between innings?  No. He doesn’t even notice.  It’s not like I’m behind the backstop giving a performance review over the phone while he’s up to bat! I’m just checking and following up on some emails.

If you decide you want to stay connected to your job and organization while you are out of the office, that is a personal decision. Don’t act like you’re a hero going above and beyond by keeping up on your emails. You’re not, everyone does that.

If keeping up with your emails is the real work you’re doing, you’re highly overpaid and easily replaceable. If telling your coworkers you checked emails while out of the office on some personal time to show how dedicated and better you are than them, you need to get a life, email hero.

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