Thoughtful Thursday: Connected

February 23, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayMy new job comes with two email addresses, and I am supposed to choose between the two addresses, which means choosing between two different systems. One part of my decision process is how easy it is to access the accounts outside the office: from a web-based interface, forwarded to my personal email account, or from my phone. One account is way easier to access inside the office, and the other is way easier outside the office.

These efforts to get myself connected outside the office beg the question: do I even want to check my email when I’m not officially “working”?

Pre-kids, I’d check my work email a couple of times each night and a few times each weekend day.

Now, if I’m working from home I’ll check it a few times, but otherwise I often don’t check at all when I’m not at the office. Most things can wait, and if they can’t, I still don’t particularly want to deal with it. I don’t have my work emails sent to my phone, on purpose.

To some extent I want to manage expectations: I don’t want to be someone that people expect to answer right away, day or night.

Seven years ago, when most people had regular cell phones but almost no one had smartphones, one of my coworkers lamented her husband’s new Blackberry: “He brings it to bed! He checks his email while we are in bed! Who does that?!?” Now, almost all of us do.

Which is why I’ll check my email at night once or twice, and I’ll forward it to my Gmail as long as I set up a filter, but I draw the line at push notifications. My work-life balance isn’t going to reach equilibrium if I let people keep zapping me all day and all night.

Oh, and I try really hard not to let anyone at work have my phone number. Don’t call me, I’ll call you see you at work tomorrow.

How connected do you like to stay to your work when you’re off duty?

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14 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Connected”

  1. Elana Kahn Says:

    Right now I’m not working, so there’s nothing to be connected to. I’m lucky that I’ve never had a job with work email that would be forwarded anywhere or that I could even check remotely. When I become a midwife I doubt I’ll need to check my work email from home, so I don’t plan to be connected to my work at all when I’m off duty. 🙂

  2. Sara Says:

    As an academic, I’m never really “off-duty”. (During maternity leave, I: sat on three hiring committees, with two interviews occurring exactly a week before Gwen was born; revised two journal papers; ran a Latin reading group; supervised an independent study project; and was on the programme committee for a small local workshop.) I’m always thinking about work in some vague fashion, and I’m the sort who’d rather deal with email as it comes in than let it sit; I’ve found that if I don’t respond to an email within a few hours/days of receiving it, I probably won’t respond to it for months or sometimes years.

    The iphone doesn’t come to bed with me, though, since overnight is when it charges.

  3. St. Elsewhere Says:

    My office initially collected personal mail ids, and much communication came through to it….and it has been just a year back that official ids were made and assigned to everyone in the office. The service is web-based, which makes it easy to check even when I am out of office. When I was in office, I would visit it atleast once, every day.

    Am on leave, and have been on it for a few months now, and I check my official mail once in a week or so. In fact, I forgot to check it for a couple of months!

    Otherwise, I am regular with my other mail accounts and FB.

    I don’t have a choice of whether or not I want to share my cell phone number….our contact details are readily available in office. I have chosen to withhold the fixed line number, and that is the one I haven’t shared with anyone yet…

    When I was a few months into my leave, I was contacted for some examination related thing….the only thing that saved me was that not only was I out of my office, I was out of the city as well….

  4. clumsykisses Says:

    I don’t at all, I hate it, but my colleague needs guidance (I only work part time), so he’s always texting me – I find it rude!

  5. Ana Says:

    I JUST had this conversation with a co-worker yesterday! Like you, pre-kids, I checked work email every evening and weekend. Now, I often can go all weekend without checking in, and the crazy hours between leaving work and collapsing into bed do not allow for email checking unless I am in the middle of an urgent project. In order to get my work email pushed to my i-phone (so it shows up in my emails, instead of having to go to the browser to log into the webmail site), I need to call IT to get clearance. I keep “meaning to” do this but “forgetting”—I realized this week that I just don’t wanna. I like having my work email be something I need to consciously sit down and address when I need to or want to, instead of popping up unexpectedly when I browse my email while nursing or relaxing and stressing me out with things that really CAN wait.
    My work will actually cover my cell phone bills if I hand the phone over to them for admin control and list it as my pager. Hell no. I got another crappy phone through work and keep my i-phone separate—I don’t want the whole world having my cell phone number nor do I want to lose any kind of admin privelages on what is essentially my LIFE (phone/email/camera/video camera/browser/skype device)

  6. a Says:

    Once upon a time, when we were building our house, we were living in a duplex but had a PO box as our mailing address. The duplex was near my boss’ house and he saw me out walking there one day. The following Monday, he demanded our (my husband worked at the same place) physical address, because he’s a nosy bastard. My husband refused to give it to him, which led to an email chain of great hilarity (to me. He ended up frustrated and not knowing where we lived.)

    I am subject to call-in, so they must have my phone number. However, with the beauty of caller ID, I know when to answer my phone. And my cell phone doesn’t work in my house, but we don’t have a landline. I could access my email from home, but I let that particular password expire, which led to my userid expiring, which means I don’t have access. I do check my voice mail promptly after I avoid a call, and I occasionally check my work voice mail when I know I might have a message.

    In other words, I do not like to be connected to my work, although sometimes I must be. Other people give out their cell phone numbers freely. They take calls at home or wherever. My view is that most of those calls could be accomplished during work hours if the other party had any respect for any schedule beside their own, so I will not take those calls or give out my cell number. When there’s an emergency, I respond, but otherwise, work stays at work.

  7. strongblonde Says:

    oh man! so. i have NO idea how to respond to this.

    on the one hand: i don’t want to be connected at all. i don’t want to be accessible when i’m not at work.

    on the other: being accessible means that i only have to go to the office once a week. that part is nice.

    and then there’s my anxious personality. opening my email and finding 200 new emails a day is very overwhelming to me! having them sent to my phone helps me to triage and to eliminate some of the junk that will always get sent (respnd to alls, the daily email from the university, student stuff).

    To complicate matters, I’ve had the same email address since 1994. so i get a LOT of crap. you’d think my big university would have better filters, right?

    so….what did you decide? better access from inside? or outside?

  8. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t have this problem. And even when I worked, I never had this problem. Guess I wasn’t “important” enough to need access to my email from home. And no one had a smartphone so that was never an issue.

    But Nav has a Blackberry and his personal cell which is used for work related stuff. He is always checking one or the other or both simultaneously. It’s a constant struggle/fight between us. I have threaten to throw them both away multiple times. I’d prefer he separate work and home but know that he can’t and his next assignment will just be worse so I need to get used to it.

  9. Jules Says:

    We only have an internal email & intranet system at work. There is no contact with the outside world. The only way to contact those outside, or for them to contact us, is via phone (which has it’s own positives & negatives).

    Sometimes I wish it were different, but sometimes I am glad to leave my work at the door when I leave.


  10. I remember thinking that about Blackberries! And now I do the same with Android.

    But not so much for work as for play. Nope, I’m not checking work email outside work hours.

    Unless you count writing as “work.” Which it kinda is and kinda isn’t.

  11. Kate Says:

    In this new life of consulting and part time jobs, I am never off duty. And I have to say how much I hate that. I am not a surgeon, I am not someone with critical skills. I am not mission control.
    I now have a smartish phone, and find that at least I do not miss things that people think I should know, but I miss being able to miss them more than I can say.
    Sometimes being out of cell range is a blessing.

    In my actual life, real, katelife, the stupid cellphone has saved me. Hours commuting allow me to connect with my sister and my dad with the deliciousness of uninterrupted attention (I mean, except for driving).

    So work wise? Wish I did not feel so reactive. Life wise? How great to be able to connect.

  12. Cat Says:

    Back when I had a corporate job and actually got vacation days, I never checked email when I wasn’t in the office. To be fair, I was an administrative assistant in the recruiting department, so there weren’t many emergencies I would have been needed for anyway. traveling candidates did get my home number to use in emergencies, but after a particularly ridiculous 1am phone call I started giving them the after-hours travel department number instead of my number. When I was out on vacation, my boss and whoever was covering my desk had a number to reach me, but hardly ever called unless they couldn’t find a file or something. They were always rare and brief phone calls. I firmly believe that vacation time is vacation time and isn’t worth taking if you’re not going to unplug.


  13. Ah, I usually stay too connected – checking mails until just before I go to sleep and as soon as I get up in the morning. Which is not necessarily the way I like it as sometimes that means I get upset by a message and then either cannot sleep or start the day out really cranky and it would have been better if I had showered first, had breakfast etc. However it’s not so much of an issue these days anymore (due to less work / maternity leave). I do find it easier to switch off my phone though (probably because generally I hate making phone calls).

  14. Mel Says:

    I am very connected just because everyone at work is on at odd hours because we’re allowed to complete our work whenever we choose. It’s helpful for me when I’m working my hours for people to answer my questions quickly if they can, though I don’t necessarily expect it. Because the reality is that if they get back to me later on, I’m probably screwed work-wise (meaning, I’ll have to log back in and do the work that I couldn’t complete when I wanted to complete it). So knowing that we all work in this manner, I have work emails forward to my phone and if they need an answer, I answer them quickly. That said, I don’t check my phone every time an email comes in (I get between 200 – 300 emails per day). But I glance at things and clean up the ones that need to be dealt with every few hours.


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