There’s been a lot of chat on twitter about annual leave and email checking.
My colleague tweeted that he’d managed to clear 500+ emails of the thousand or so he’d come back to post hols. What followed was an interesting thread discussing the pros and cons of auto deleting emails.
Now I have a small confession to make at this point. The volume of emails my colleague received…. I’m pretty sure were generated in part by me and rota discussions (well he did go on holiday at changeover). For the first week he was copied into every email. I’d assumed he would want to know. I stopped doing it in week 2 as it was starting to get ridiculous not to mention pointless. As long as emails were being actioned did it matter if he knew about every, single, decision? I decided no.
So that’s what made this twitter thread so interesting. This idea that you could delete 1 – 2 weeks of your professional life hoping that people would understand and leave you alone to relax in peace.
Now while I support this concept, I know others do not.
My experience is that there are quite a number who use the excuse you’re on holiday to email about things knowing that you’re not around. And not in a good or helpful way. There is definitely power politics at play while your out of office is on.
‘Oh I’m sorry, were you not aware of that? I did copy you into the email’
Of course there was a time when I would get quite wound up about this. However I have come to realise it says more about them than me. I can choose not to react/care.
A further dilemma is how to manage the return to work email overload.
What would be lovely is if some reliable, trustworthy person from each facet of your professional life did a ‘return to reality handover’. Rather like the handover you might do about your patients before you go on holiday.
It would be succinct and available on the morning of your return. I have tried this with said colleague who went on leave – I even messaged him with a ‘of all the c**p in your inbox could you read mine first?’
Then there’s the welcome party when you get back to your clinical area:
‘Can I just ask you about….. I sent you an email’
‘I’ve literally just got here, I have no idea what you’re talking about’
You usually need to wait a few minutes for shocked expression to disappear from the persons face.
Again the expectation is that while you say you’re not checking your emails, they believe you secretly are and that you’re lying if you say you don’t because who doesn’t check their emails on holiday?!
I do believe the sincerity of those who are trying to get people to take an actual break and encouraging them to auto delete. I just don’t believe that everyone will do this. I’m not even convinced that it’s needed if I’m being entirely honest. People will do what people will do.
‘Hiya, I’m on my holiday at the mo. I start back on September 11th however it’ll take me a few days to catch up. If it’s important then page me or resend on that day. Thanks.’
I usually add a bunch of who to contact at the end too.
Ignorance is bliss as they say but mental health, well, that’s priceless…