new boss expects me to respond to work emails over the weekend

by Ask a Manager on December 18, 2012

A reader writes:

I work a 9-5 job in the creative industry. I am fairly low down in the pecking order, so to speak. The company recently employed someone to be my new boss, who has now started emailing me on the weekends and expects me to reply to him immediately. I have my own personal phone (which i pay the bill for), which I link my work emails to so I receive them, but can I really be expected to respond to work issues on the weekend that could honestly wait until Monday? How do I approach this issue with my boss without causing aggravation?

Well, first, are you sure that your new boss does expect you to reply immediately? Many people, myself included, like to do some work over the weekend, but that doesn’t mean that we expect immediate answers to our emails. But of course, when it’s the boss emailing, a lot of people assume a quick response is expected, unless the boss explicitly tells them otherwise.

Now, obviously, if your boss is saying things like “let me know today” or following up on Sunday to ask why you haven’t yet responded to the email he sent on Saturday, then it’s pretty clear that he does expect responses over the weekend. But if this isn’t the case, then I would either (a) ignore the emails until you’re back at work on Monday or (b) ask him — as in, “Hey, I’m assuming that it’s fine for me to wait to reply to emails sent over the weekend until I’m back at work on Monday, unless it’s an emergency. Let me know if that’s not the case.”

That alone might solve the problem. But if it doesn’t — if your manager makes it clear that he does indeed expect weekend responses — then you have the usual choices: accept it or try to change it.

If you want to try to change it, that means talking to your manager. Say something like, “It’s new for me to be expected to answer work emails over the weekend; we haven’t typically done that. I don’t mind responding occasionally if it’s an emergency, but I wonder if there’s a way to save everything else for when I’m back at work. I use the weekends to recharge so that I’m refreshed on Monday, and I’m often somewhere where I can’t easily answer work emails.”

You don’t want to say this in a complaining tone, like the subtext is “I hate my job and resent being asked to think about it on weekends.” You want your tone to convey “We’re both professionals here and obviously we both recognize the value of time away from work, so let’s problem-solve this.”

This might solve — or at least cut down on — the emails. (Make sure, by the way, to recognize the difference between receiving emails on the weekend and being expected to respond to them on the weekend. If your manager is working over the weekend, it’s not reasonable to ask him not to email you. Rather, what you want is an understanding on both sides that you won’t be responding until Monday, and an agreement that that’s fine.)

However, if your manager tells you that, yes, in fact you are expected to respond to emails over the weekend, then you need to decide if you want the job under these terms, knowing that this is part of the package. Jobs do change over time, especially when a new manager comes in, and if he wants to require this, ultimately that’s his call. (Of course, if you’re non-exempt, you need to be paid for any time you spend working on the weekends, including answering email.)

Some people will also tell you to try things like removing your work email from your phone (not a bad idea) or telling your manager that you’ll be somewhere without Internet access for the weekend. These are options if you want them, but I’d rather see you address it head-on and try to get aligned about expectations on each side.

So start with a conversation. You’re going to learn plenty from that, and then can decide how to proceed.

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{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

twentymilehike December 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I want to echo removing your work email from your phone. Unless your company has asked you to receive your work email on your phone, there is no reason for you to do so! If you like the convenience, you could have it turned on while you are working, and then off when you go home for the weekend (I don’t know about your phone, but mine has a little toggle switch to turn off or on each email account so it’s not too difficult to do). I have a coworker who does not have a company phone, but sometimes travels for work. When he does, he just turns on work email when he’s travelling and then turns it off when he’s home. I’ve done the same. Sometimes when my boss texts me after hours, I’ll ask him to email me the information instead so I make sure I remember it when I’m back in the office.

Then again, like Alison said, if he does expect you reply right away, you’ll have to bring that up.

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AJ-in-Memphis December 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm

+1

There are several solutions to this – assuming the OP is a salaried employee – but removing weekend to the email is the best one. Unless the company is paying for internet access at home, the data plan on your phone or some other mechanism to retrieve emails – it’s absurd for this manager to require email checking away from the office. Some managers don’t understand that not everyone wants to work all the time like they have to (or want to) or the concept of “burn out”.

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AJ-in-Memphis December 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

*weekend access to email* – argh!

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Niki C December 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

It may be absurd, but that doesn’t mean it’s not expected. I know plenty of companies that require folks to receive work email on their personal phones without an allowance for the cost. I also believe that plenty of managers understand that people don’t want to work late in the evenings and/or on the weekends, but that doesn’t mean they respect it!

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Ariancita December 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I have an Android, but I don’t have a data plan (because I can’t seem to make a decision). Therefore, I can’t even get work emails when I’m not on a computer or near free wifi. Maybe OP can tell her work that she doesn’t have a data plan and therefore can’t receive emails from her phone? I think the expectation of being constantly available (if in fact there is one in this case) comes from access. But if her company isn’t giving her a phone (which they would if it’s a normally expected part of the job), then there’s no need for her to let them think she has access to emails on the weekend. (Just a suggestion: I’m notorious for working weekends, nights, vacations, so I personally don’t mind.)

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Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Don’t say you don’t have a data plan on your phone if it isn’t true.

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Ariancita December 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm

She doesn’t need to say she doesn’t have it if she does. But she doesn’t need to let them know she has one.

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Elizabeth December 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Or maybe there’s a way to arrange it so that you get work email on your phone, but you can turn off the alerts for the weekend – perhaps by using a different app for work email than for personal email, so it doesn’t all appear mixed in one inbox. That way, you can choose to check email over the weekend to keep on top of what’s going on – but it doesn’t ping you when you’re sitting on the sofa relaxing with a book on Saturday afternoon.

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Josh S December 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm

For iOS and Android, there are apps that allow you to customize when you get certain notifications. So if you wanted to turn off email notifications on the weekend, you can do so.

Tasker (http://tasker.dinglisch.net/ ) is the top-of-the-line app for Android, though there are alternatives. (http://android.appstorm.net/roundups/utilities-roundups/tasker-alternatives-to-automate-your-android/ )

And http://intelliborn.com/myprofiles.html seems to be a similar app for iPhone (though I haven’t used it).

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Claire December 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm

This is such a well-crafted answer. Well done, AAM.

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Yep – it’s perfect.

FWIW there is no way I would go into an agreement where I needed to receive work email on my own phone. If the company wants me on call 24/7 they need to provide the phone. And that’s speaking as an employee – but my official work me also hates all BYOD problems also …so I may be biased.

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Wilton Businessman December 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Exactly. If I want you to get email on the weekend on your phone, I’ll give you the phone I support.

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Wilton Businessman December 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm

…and pay for.

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Mike C. December 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Bingo

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Yeah – I have a firm policy against work email on personal devices. If you need work email and your manager agrees that there’s a business need for that I’ll issue you an iPhone because that’s what I support here.

If your manager doesn’t think you need access to work email on your phone then just enjoy your time away from the office…it’s a sweeter deal than you realize.

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the gold digger December 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

When I started my job a few months ago, my then-boss (who quit after I’d been working for two weeks and left me stuck doing the budget and I HATE DOING BUDGETS) asked if I had a smartphone.

I answered a cautious, “yes,” and he said I can pick up work email on the phone when I am traveling. I nodded, but thought, “If you’re not going to provide the phone for me or if you’re not going to pay my bill, then this phone will never see a work email.”

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KellyK December 19, 2012 at 11:18 am

That makes a lot of sense. Talking as an employee, I make an exception for situations where work email on the personal device benefits me rather than the company. For example, I’m working from home today because my back hurts, doing work on my personal computer. I’m not going to ask to be issued a laptop so that I can sit on a heating pad on my couch, because the arrangement is for my convenience rather than my employer’s. Granted, if IT had a “no work email on personal devices” policy, then I would ask for a laptop.

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Amouse December 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Should the OP be getting paid then for the time working on weekends? Could she not just pretend she doesn’t see them until Monday and then casually bring it up as: “I do not check my e-mails on weekends under normal circumstances due to my hours. Should I be on call on the weekends? Is there any way that we could work out a plan?”

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Ask a Manager December 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm

If the OP is non-exempt, yes, this time should be paid. If the OP is exempt, then not in most workplaces.

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AdAgencyChick December 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Yeah, I wouldn’t pretend to be without Internet access on weekends. You can pull that once, but I doubt most bosses would believe that you don’t have Internet access at home.

Wimpy AdAgencyChick would probably respond to the first such weekend email with, “Do you need me to give you an answer today or can this wait until Monday?”

Not-wimpy AdAgencyChick agrees with AAM, and perhaps if your boss truly does expect responses on the weekends, you can work out a system with him — any emails that are urgent should be marked as such in the subject line, and others can wait until Monday.

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AdAgencyChick December 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm

That, and removing work email from your phone unless your company is reimbursing you in some way for it!

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Amouse December 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm

That’s a good idea with the urgent subject line! I agree, it just seems unfair to have to do this outside of your work hours when the OP never had to before. I know it would annoy me.

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clobbered December 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Actually, I’d advise against the “urgent” in the subject line – it still leaves you needing to check your email, and interfering with your ability to tune work out on weekends (if that is what you like to do).

I ask people to call me if there’s something wrong. That allows me to sort out emergencies without having to check email just in case, and it also puts a higher barrier on the person asking – it’s one thing to send an email, it’s another to call somebody up and ask, against the sound of a kid’s birthday party, “can you send me the figures for the last quarter, like, right now?”.

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KellyK December 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Yeah, I agree with that. Just having to check regularly is an imposition, and it definitely does set the bar a little higher for what really is “urgent.”

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AnotherAlison December 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Honestly, if it’s urgent on the weekend, and I wasn’t expecting to need to be accessible by email , you better reach me another way. . .like showing up at my door.

(I was trying to decide what was reasonable for contacting me, and I realized I spend a lot of time out of range on some weekends, unless I know in advance I am going to need to do something.)

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KayDay December 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Definitely be sure to find out if your boss really does expect an immediate response.

I get my work emails on my personal phone, and I really like it this way. I am far less stressed out when I can “preview” my emails before I get into the office. Also, in the rare event that there is an emergency, I can either deal with it right away or I know that I might need to go into the office early. Conversely, if I know there is little going on the next day, I don’t feel guilty about taking my time in the morning and showing up 15 minutes “late.” (my office is pretty relaxed about hours.) However, no one in my office actually expects me to respond immediately–a lot of times people just send out messages while they are thinking about them, so they don’t forget on Monday.

If your boss does actually expect you to respond, try to find out why. It might just be what they are used to, and once they realize that it doesn’t really matter if you respond on Saturday or Monday because nothing can really get done until Monday, they might back off a bit.

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Anon December 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I had a boss who typically flew to see his gf in another city on weekends. He would often catch up on his e-mail using Outlook w/out a network connection. The next time he connected, I would suddenly be hit with 10 e-mails at once, on Friday night or Saturday morning. The first time it happened, I panicked, but he explained that it was just that he liked to use the time on the plane to catch up on stuff.

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Wilton Businessman December 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

My response assumes you are exempt and salaried.

When you give the appearance of being available 24×7, people will start to think you are available 24×7.

If you are a “9 to 5″er, why in the world would you want your work email on your phone? I know, “it’s cool” and “I want to get email when I’m in the bathroom” and all that stuff, but think of the message you’re sending. I am available 24×7. If you are not, don’t.

Make sure your boss has your emergency contact information. If there is an emergency, he will contact you.

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Ellie H. December 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I’m a 9 to 5′er and I get my work email on my phone. I use my work email as my main personal email too, though. I know this is generally advised against but it works for me and others in my organization. (I do have a separate, actually personal gmail account.) So this is basically just getting email on my phone. Also, I don’t have a very stressful job nor are there ever “emergencies” I have to handle. Sometimes there is an email or two that I want to respond to over the weekend but I typically don’t get work email over the weekend and that that I do, I almost always wait to answer on Monday, unless it is from a student who seems worried in which case I think it’s nicer to answer right away. Anyway, if I am out of the office for any reason I just like knowing what is going on in my email. Also, it’s cool and it makes me feel important. ;)

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Eric December 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I would just like to take this opportunity to state that I have never said “I want to get email when I’m in the bathroom.”

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Ha! This. :)

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Anonymous_J December 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm

LOL! I know, right?

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I am definitely one for shooting off emails at all kinds of odd hours because something occurred to me, or I’m working a weird schedule or whatever…I would hate for people to think they needed to respond contemporaneously so I warn people about that upfront. If it’s an emergency – there won’t be a question about that.

It really depends on the position whether a little bit of weekend availability could help. I totally respect the opinions of those who draw the clear lines between work and personal life – but if it’s an office where other people blur those lines then being able to answer a quick question or whatever may be better politically than being a straight up 9-5er (tm Wilton Businessman).

And were you asked to put work email on your phone? If not, I don’t understand why you would do that if you didn’t want to be drawn into work outside of office hours.

For many it’s not optional, but if it’s something you chose to do I’m not sure why?

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BCW December 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I’m definitely in the camp of not putting work email on my phone. I’ve also blatantly told a manager that I don’t check email on weekends. Now I was a teacher at the time, so thats a bit different than my corporate job now. Either way though I personally don’t think I get paid enough to essentially be on call at all times. Double my salary, then maybe. But if you are expected to check your work email all weekend, then you are essentially on call.

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Me December 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Oh, please — being available to dash off the occasional quick note isn’t anywhere near being on call, and asking to double your salary is beyond ridiculous.

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KellyK December 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I think it’s somewhere in between. It’s “on call” in the sense that you’re expected to be available to do work, even if that doesn’t entail coming into the office. Not every email can be addressed with a quick note.

It also really depends on what the expected response time is. “Check your email once or twice during the course of the weekend and maybe answer a quick question here or there,” is vastly different from being expected to respond within a couple hours—with the latter expectation, you’re pretty well chained to your computer, so you really are on call.

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

This exactly. To check once or twice over the weekend, I can easily see it being part of many (although not all) exempt positions. Because sometimes a quick answer is all someone needs in order to move forward if they’re working.

But if it’s such that if you’re out of range of email (doctor’s appointment, loaded up on Nyquil trying to sleep off the flu, scuba diving with whale sharks…) you need to notify your office of your lack of availability then you’re on call…because the default is that they can get a hold of you any time.

If the default is that you’re unavailable and you need to be called if there’s an emergency, but they just want you to check in to keep abreast of things…that’s not being on call, imo.

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BCW December 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I guess my point is that the default shouldn’t be that I’m available on the weekends to do it. If I want to spend all weekend on the beach, or at a friends place, or drinking at a bar, thats my time off. I understand things come up in different jobs, but I guess that should be the exception, not the rule. If it is the rule that I should be available to check emails, then I think I should be compensated.

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Ariancita December 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I agree. I do work/check and answer email/etc on weekends, evenings, and vacation days and I don’t mind because I’m kind of a workaholic. But it should still be my prerogative to do so.

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AnotherAlison December 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Hmmm. I’m a work-email-on-personal-phone person, myself, but that’s because I work directly with senior execs who work 24/7 coast-to-coast. I want to be sure I’m not ambushed on Monday mornings, and need to be available for my West Coast people if they have something urgent at 2:00 their time, even if I’ve already left at 4:00 my time. (This is my standard, not what I’ve been directed to do, but it’s served me well as far as performance reviews, increased responsibility, etc.)

My question is this: What if the company provides you with a laptop (or even Ipad), but not a phone? I think providing you with the laptop indicates that they expect some level of off-hours support from you, but I think a 2x per weekend email check could satisfy that. Thoughts?

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I think it really depends on the company and the intent – but yes, I think issuing how equipment and remote access usually speaks to needing availability – but there is nothing wrong with setting limits on this.

Checking a couple of times per weekend could be fine in a lot of positions, assuming tptb know and are cool with that.

IMO agreeing to check email a couple times a weekend and occasionally work a little from home is a reasonable expectation for a lot of exempt positions.

There are a lot of positions where it wouldn’t be nearly enough and you need to be far more responsive and the odds of killing a portion of your time off remoting in is much greater. This isn’t for everyone, but if you agree to this and I cannot state this strongly enough make sure your compensation reflects your on-call status. Whatever that specific number means to you, negotiate for it, because it is something you’re giving up for the company and you need to figure out what your time off is worth to you and either get it or scale back and keep the time.

If you develop the reputation for being on-call all the time it can be A) VERY hard to scale back without people getting pouty about it and B) very hard to negotiate for money when you’ve already made it a habit and they know you’ll keep doing it whether you’re paid or not.

Sorry…tangent…subject near and dear to me and I can go on…

But yes, if they are issuing equipment for you to use at home I think the expectation is that you will need to use it for work from time to time. I would definitely make sure I was on the same page with my boss about my specific availability.

I had to draw some parameters because there was scope creep I needed to stop: I am checking email at least once per hour 5:00 am – 10:00 pm M-F and 7:00 am – 10:00 pm Sat and Sun unless I otherwise notify people. On the weekend or off hours anything that is not an emergency will be flagged for my attention when I get to the office. If you need me between 10:00 and 5:00 or 7:00 you need to call me, because even with the very loud docking bay for my phone I will not hear the email chime.

It’s all about boundaries.

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The IT Manager December 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm

+1. Sounds like the LW doesn’t want this situation, but for people in this situation must set parameters and be adequately compensated for being tied to work.

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AnotherAlison December 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

In my personal case, I don’t mind checking work emails on my own phone & do take my laptop as a sign that I work outside these 4 walls as needed (I’m salaried). I’ve also been told I can have an Ipad, which would make offsite accessibility even easier, but I haven’t been told I must have one.

I think the OP might need to take that into consideration, too, if she has a laptop and still wants to object to answering emails on the weekend (assuming she’s compensated through salary or OT pay). It’s kind of like that line in the job description “and any other duties”. . .just because you weren’t doing it before doesn’t mean it isn’t a part of your role.

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

If you go that way the logmein app for the iPad is amazing.

I fire up the laptop and VPN for heavy lifting – but I’m in and out of things all the time on the iPad logmein app and it hasn’t crashed once and it’s so much easier for my tired eyes to see than logging on on my phone.

Initially I thought the iPad was irrelevant, but after a couple of days I was sold. It’s just so easy to zip in and out of remote desktops than having to lug a laptop.

I wouldn’t be without one now.

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AnotherAlison December 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

So, one more thing is really worth it? I think you’re right, seeing how they’ve adapted them internally over the past year. I just want the little keyboard/case thing because my phone typing is awful & time consuming.

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Oh YES – and I can’t recommend the Zagg cases enough. Hard and protective, and a really nice built in keyboard (not all keyboards that come with cases are created equally.)

I have a really nice one for my original iPad – but I wasn’t able to find a case which fit the Apple bluetooth keyboard for my 2 (and was in my color scheme) so I went with the Zagg and could not be happier (although I never did find a pink one).

They are a little pricey – but they last longer than buying a $40 case every few months.

I love the backlit keyboards. Oh and good news – same cases fit the 2 & 3 and will also work for the 4…so that will save a little money.

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Ask a Manager December 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Ooooh, I like the look of that built-in keyboard. I would use my ipad so much more if I could type more easily on it.

I have the most beautiful case in the world from Portenzo, but I might be willing to give it up for a built-in keyboard.

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Gene December 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Just get a laser virtual keyboard and turn that tabletop at Starbucks into your keyboard. It’s a strange feel at first, but you’ll have the case you love and a keyboard without the bulk when you need it.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e722/

KellyK December 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

Ooh, I want one! Too bad I didn’t know about these a month ago when my parents were asking what the heck I wanted for Christmas.

Blinx December 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm

At my last job, we were all issued laptops, but only higher-level managers ever brought them home on a daily basis. We usually brought them to meetings (which could last several hours), or the occasional business travel or work-from-home arrangement. They were for our convenience, and we were not pressured to work from home after hours.

However, all employees had the option to check work email from home either on their phones or home computer via webmail. At first it was clunky, but later versions were almost like using Outlook. I only checked it if I was expecting an important email, or was out of the office unexpectedly.

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

OWA is nice – it’s improved the web-mail experience so much over the years.

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Matthew Soffen December 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

That may work. If you are salaried vs. hourly you may have other options available to you.

I’d find out what is expected of you for weekend work (and if you are an hourly employee, you may be able to expect compensation). I would ask it in a way to disarm any problems (“This might be a stupid question, but as an I’m an hourly employee, should expect to be paid for the time I take to respond to emails on Weekends ?

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Joey December 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Put your out of office on and be done with it

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Joey December 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm

You know, this is one of the rare times I say don’t proactively raise the issue with your boss. Why? Because you’re pressuring your boss to make it a priority. And you may not like the answer. If you just start putting your out of office on you’ve controlled the expectations, not him. If your availability is a big enough deal he’ll raise the issue with you. But if he doesn’t you’ve set the standard and kept him informed at the same time. Although the same time I’d still check your emails and respond when you truly feel it can’t wait.

It’s the whole don’t ask if you don’t wanna know.

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jesicka309 December 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I was going to suggest this. A lot of people are suggesting “remove email from personal phone” but the OP could be in a situation where she is frequently off site, meeting clients etc. and needs to check her email while she’s on the move. I was a part time worker and had this scenario, so I can see how they may not always issue you a phone, but need you to be reachable when you’re off site.
Now, and out of office works wonders. 5.30 on Friday (or whenever you finish for the week) set up your out of office, just stating something like “I am out of office until Monday 24/12 at 8.30 am. For any urgent queries please call me on 555-666.”
This means that when boss emails you, he’ll get that in response. Now it’s up to him to decide whether it’s urgent enough to call about. If it is, great, you will respond. If it isn’t, well, it can wait until 8.30 Monday when you check your email.
If he gets cranky, or claims you’re being passive aggressive, just explain that you were receiving a lot of emails after hours from clients/coworkers/direct reports/insert applilcable third party, and wanted to make sure they were aware you were out of office so that they knew what time you would be dealing with their issue. Make it a general thing, not a “you keep emailing me on Saturday night and I do not want to deal with it” thing.
Also turn off push notifications on your phone, so you only read emails when you want to, not when a new one pops into your inbox. :)

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The IT Manager December 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Expectations need to be set. Becuase the question of “does my boss expect me to answer work emails over the weekend?” can be followed up with “how quickly do I have to respond to work emails over the weekend?”

If, as the LW states, the boss expects her to respond immediately, then she’s essentially on call. That means not just checking when convieient, but stopping what she’s doing to respond and never being far away from her phone. That would be unacceptable to me at my current job.

Definately do what Alison says and speak with your boss. You do have the nuclear option if the new boss says you are supposed to respond quickly over the weekend of asking for more pay in compensation for being on call which is a new requirement of your position, but I call it the “nuclear option” because you have to be ready to walk if it fails. It has to be done soon, though, not long after the job requirements changed on you.

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Not So NewReader December 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm

The part about this being a new boss jumped out at me.

Does new boss know that other bosses in the company are emailing on weekends? Or is new boss just used to doing that from her last job?

What are the nature of the questions? Are they “new person” type questions? OTOH, are the questions indicating that you should be working along on your own job over the weekend?

The thought that strikes me is that this emailing on weekends could be a carry over from the boss’ old job and she does not realize this new company does not do that.

One of my previous employers was genuinely baffled by the concept that things could be done differently in other companies.

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the gold digger December 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Ugh. We had a new guy start at my old employer. He was a new marketing director, but he was not my boss’ boss. He sent out a meeting request one afternoon for that afternoon. At 4:00. To 8:00 p.m. Just a get to know you meeting. Not a “the main machine has gone down at one of the mills and we need to figure out how we’re going to get product to customers.” Just a, “who are you and what do you do?”

Said that he would order pizza if necessary.

This was a corporate office, pretty much 7:30 to 5:30. I had never been invited to a meeting that was going to last past 5. I had already made plans that evening, so left at 6, in the middle of the meeting.

My boss got mad at me, told me I wasn’t a team player. I got mad back, saying that the new guy had no right to demand our after-work time, without notice, for a non-essential meeting.

The new guy was fired a year or two later. Then my boss was fired. Then I was laid off a few years after that. So I guess I won.

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Not So NewReader December 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm

He would order pizza IF NECESSARY?

Sigh. Am shaking my head……

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KellyK December 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Wow. Even during normal working hours, a *four-hour* “get to know you” meeting would be ridiculous.

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Mike C. December 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I’m glad at my organization such a notice would be laughed at and ignored.

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Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm

“Sorry, I already have plans this evening. How about 4pm to 5:30pm on Thursday? Please let me know. “

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AdAgencyChick December 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Made a request for a 4 PM to 8 PM meeting to take place the SAME DAY he made the request? For a completely nonessential purpose?

Oh man, I would have been steaming. And I would have also “had plans.” Even if the “plans” were to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race with a glass of Beaujolais in each hand.

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EngineerGirl December 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Other side of the coin here. I’ll often send emails in off hours so I can be near the front of the queue on Monday morning. There is no expectation it will be read before then.

So check with your manager. Also enable your out of office auto-reply to ensure that there are no expectations of a response prior to that.

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AnotherAlison December 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

The ones I glance at over the weekend go to the bottom of the queue, after the “fresh” Monday morning ones, unless they were truly urgent, so I hope your strategy isn’t backfiring!

It seems as technology has changed, we all have to re-evaluate how we handle this. It used to be no big thing for the top guy in the company to email everyone on Sunday because he was the only one actually checking email. Now that everyone is (or can, if they choose to), it seems expectations should be clarified across the board.

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AP December 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm

A 9 to 5 in a creative industry? This is impossible to answer for the fact that this job does not exist…

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Elise December 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I wondered about that too.

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AP December 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm

In all seriousness, though, you need to have that conversation. Don’t just delete the account from your phone – if you’ve been responding up until now, your boss will think you’ve just decided to start ignoring him.

Sometimes I email people on the weekend because I’m afraid I’ll forget what I wanted to say until Monday. Sometimes it’s because my boss is calling me with an essential question that he needs answered immediately and I need to get it from someone else. I try to let them know if it needs to be answered or can wait. You can frame your conversation in that light – does everything need to be answered immediately or can I use my judgment on what needs a response before Monday? After a while you’ll get a feel for what you need to do and what you can hold off on.

But do keep in mind this is pretty standard in most creative fields and if everyone else in your company is doing it, you might be expected to as well.

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Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Hahaha. It does, but it is IS pretty rare. And IME graphic designers and other such people tend to put themselves in the “creative industry” category.

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Anonymous December 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm

You need to delete the work email from your phone if you are paid hourly. I sometimes like to pop in to my email on Sunday so I know what to expect for Monday, but other than that… no. If your manager truely thinks every single email is urgent then, your job duties and pay need to change accordingly.

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Niki C December 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I am curious how many people utilize the “out of office” function for evenings and weekends? Personally, I have never seen this done. I have worked in sports, law, recruiting and sales. For me, out of office means out of office during regular business hours. I assume this person’s boss knows she is physically out of the office on a weekend.

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Jamie December 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I’ve never seen it used except for days off and vacations, etc. Times when people would normally expect to find you in the office.

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KellyK December 19, 2012 at 11:32 am

Same here. I think that would get irritating, particularly depending on how much variation there is between coworker’s schedules. I don’t really need an email every single time I send something to someone who’s gone for the evening or hasn’t gotten in yet. Especially because I’m on the East Coast and have occasionally had coworkers in California or Hawaii. Getting an email every single time I emailed someone at a normal time for me that translates to too-flipping-early o’clock in their local time would get irritating.

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Jamie December 19, 2012 at 11:38 am

It would be the same here – if someone did that I’d be getting flooded with calls to disable their OOO.

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Yup December 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Ditto Jaime. I use OOO messages (a) when the office is closed, (b) when I’m on vacation, or (c) if I’m unreachable during regular business hours because I’m at a conference or in training or something. Otherwise, I assume that people don’t expect a reply from me outside of my regular work times.

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Kate December 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I had one coworker who used hers during the business day while in meetings. She had a client who was so demanding that she’d start calling around the office if she couldn’t reach my coworker.

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Elizabeth December 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm

We might using backdoor admin functions to get rid of it if someone turned it on for their evening & weekends. It is annoying, and it uses server resources better allocated in other ways.

On the main topic, I get my email to my smart phone, but I’m salaried & exempt. It checks every 10 minutes during the business day & every 2 hours outside of that. The people who have my phone number and who would need to contact me for something more urgent than that know to call me and to leave me voice mail if I don’t call back. I don’t have cell coverage in my entire house, so I rarely actually answer the phone. Instead, I listen to the voice mail and call back.

We don’t allow non-exempt employees to have remote access to their email (using either Outlook On the Web or their smart phones). Healthcare has been under a microscope for off-the-clock work, and the fines are huge. We don’t want to pay every nurse & housekeeper to check their email when they aren’t already at work. If they really need access, their manager has to justify moving their position to salaried & exempt. Rarely do they want to make that effort.

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AnotherAlison December 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm

If you’re really, really out of the office — like a 2-week vacation to a remote island. Otherwise, not at all.

I look at it like this: If it is evening or the weekend, and I’m not answering your email, I assume you’re smart enough to figure out that I’m busy doing some personal thing and not answering emails at the moment. If it’s daytime and I’m traveling for business or on PTO but doing something minor, I’ll scan emails anyway and it’s annoying when people send OOO responses followed by real responses, so I respond for real or not at all. For true emergencies, people are impatient enough to call our dept. secretary and track me down in Florida, so I haven’t seen the OOO thing really encouraging anyone to manage around my availability.

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AnotherAlison December 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm

And by true emergencies, I mean things that are not life-or-death but <8-hr turnaround business needs. : )

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KayDay December 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

I (and all my coworkers) only use OOO for when we are out, but the office is open…and only when we are out for more than one day. I think that works best for most people, otherwise there would be an obscene amount of automatic emails that would just get annoying.

I have seen two situations where people have used OOOs more frequently. One was a service type position whose job was to receive and handle all the external requests for the business–since this person received tons of time-sensitive emails from people outside of his office, I thought it made sense. (His voicemail was also changed daily with his in-office hours.) The other was a senior exec’s assistant. I’m not sure why she did it.

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Anonymous_J December 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I was going to suggest removing your work email from your phone, but ONLY after following AAM’s advice and clarifying expectations with your boss!

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Kou December 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I’m kind of doing this now, I guess. I’m a new hourly, 40-hour-week peson but the work I do is for a group of surgeons whose hours are obviously different. They also have to do paperwork and things in their off time, so I have received emails over the weekend asking me to do things with deadlines during my normal hours. I’ve been assuming they know my hours and letting it wait until I’m in the office again.

My actual boss (not a surgeon) has told me expressly not to work outside my normal hours, partially because they have to pay me but mostly because he’s very pro-work/life balance and seems to want to make sure we feel comfortable keeping home and work totally separate without any fear of looking lazy. When I asked how to get my work email on my phone he reluctantly told me how, but added again that if I’m not at work I shouldn’t bother thinking about work because that’s my off time.

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manomanon December 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I’m a little late to this but I think there is another side, what is the role of the OP in this organization? I ask because I am the marketing person and the general email for our small organization goes to me. We often have weekend events and get questions about them which would go unanswered if I didn’t check it everyone once in a while. I tend to check around 9 and noon for our afternoon events. I only answer questions that relate to those events, otherwise everything waits until Monday morning.

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Cassie December 18, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I am non-exempt and I check my work email on my personal phone and/or home computer. I don’t always respond – unless it’s urgent – but I like knowing what’s brewing. Sometimes I do respond even when it’s not urgent if it’s a quick/simple question that can be answered in a sentence or two. That way I have less to deal with the next day.

My boss travels often and spends his time at airports catching up on emails. I’ll get a slew of them at once and then nothing for a few days. So that’s even more incentive not to answer every single email that comes in – he may not even read it until a couple of days later.

I don’t have unlimited data on my smartphone so I don’t automatically check email regularly. I’ll turn on the data and check email maybe once after leaving the office and when I wake up. If there’s something urgent, my boss can always call me. (He does apologize for calling me, though).

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Gorilla Radio December 18, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Could it be this boss is oblivious to etiquette and boundaries? Like oblivious to the fact she doesn’t have a work phone and is using her own data? I had a boss once that would not authorize a work at home pass (to gain access to the network) for his workers but would be very upset if he wrote something on Saturday and had not received reply by Sunday. There would be a note at your workstation to “Please see me,” followed by a lecture about timely replies. Of course you weren’t required to come into the office on weekends, (work – life balance and all (yeah right)) but if there was an email waiting to be answered come Monday… Pointing out that you didn’t have access didn’t work either, because “now you are just being defensive.”

If they want you responding on weekends, they can pay for access.

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starts & ends with a December 18, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Shouldnt the OP be able to identify the priority of the requests she’s getting? My boss emails at off hours, on the weekends, etc, but I’m clued in to what’s going on and can make a judgement of this can wait or this is urgent.

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Recruiter December 19, 2012 at 12:32 am

It’s interesting reading a post like this. Although I am American, and have held part-time jobs in the states, my only real working experience has been in Japan.

I would say that my company has fairly good work/life balance (9 AM~ 8PM, sometimes later if necessary), and we are always available by email. Personally, it is a part of my job (though not explicitly required) that let’s me do my job better.

Judging from 90% of the people that I work with, working during weekends (including email access and being expected to be at the office), as well as late into the night, is completely normal and expected.

People always say that the Japanese work very long hours, but until reading this post, I am not sure I realized how true that is. It is strange to me that something simple like answering a few emails during the weekend is such a big deal.

I guess I am turning Japanese…

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N. December 19, 2012 at 6:06 am

Recruiter: With all due respect and coming from someone who does NOT live in Japan, isn’t there also some thing over there called “Karōshi” known as sudden death from overwork?

I am not by any means suggesting such a thing is happening in the OP’s case, but I also thought I read the Japanese are trying to take it down a notch as of late…

Just an interesting aside…

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Anonymous December 19, 2012 at 9:38 am

I’m sure this has been brought up already, but if you are a non-exempt employee it isn’t actually legal for you respond to work e-mail on the weekends. Assuming you work 40 hrs M-F, then weekend work pushes you over the legal threshold, unless you are getting OT. So, just because your new manager would like you to respond to e-mails on the weekend, it doesn’t mean you have to, and you can bring it up to HR.

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Ask a Manager December 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

It’s legal if the OP is being paid for the time.

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rdb December 24, 2012 at 9:27 am

My former boss thought nothing of calling (forget email – CALLING) me on my personal cell phone at any hour of any day, and also thought nothing of not paying me for the time I spent working outside the office. (I’m an admin – I’ve always been non-exempt.) Most egregious offense: She called me at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 1, 2012, which resulted in my working from home the following morning (which was the official New Year’s Day holiday), starting at 6 a.m. I was paid for two hours’ time for that, but that was the only time I was paid for working outside normal business hours.

I wound up quitting the job, with no notice, three weeks later. I made it painfully clear to HR that I was leaving due to the stress of reporting to my hellbeast of a boss, being on call 24-7 with no compensation, and more that I haven’t said here. (I will point out that in four years, I was the 7th admin she’d had. One of my predecessors had a nervous breakdown.)

I now have a great job with an organization I respect and a boss I truly enjoy. We have ironclad rules forbidding admins from having access to work email outside of the office, and any overtime must be approved in advance of it actually being worked. I took a big pay cut and I’m dirt poor, now – we have had to forego Christmas in my household this year – but I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Clobbered December 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Sometimes I wonder what kind of society we live in where you have to choose between your sanity and having Christmas :-(

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KellyK December 19, 2012 at 11:43 am

In addition to what Alison said below, it would also be possible to check work email infrequently enough that it wouldn’t actually put you over your weekly hours. Five minutes checking email on Saturday and 5 minutes on Sunday is less than a billable unit of time most places. Much like you wouldn’t get overtime if you stayed until 4:02 to wrap something up.

*BUT* if you are non-exempt, the pay issue is important to bring up. (I would think that if you’re expected to check email every couple hours, you should be getting paid for that time, even if you don’t end up answering anything, because five minutes every couple hours all weekend long *does* add up to real billable time.)

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Jeff February 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I don’t work for free. Period. Nor does anyone have the right to use employee personal resources to further business gain for free and at employee’s expense.
My last job forwarded our lines to my cell phone over weekends and I found out when I got a call from customers. I literally was met with a stuttered silence and meek greeting because I answered the phone with my usual “hello” and not a company greeting. I told them they got connected to a personal line… wrong number.
After that, I told them phone under wife’s name and Account cancelled. Though I simply silenced phone all the time.
It’s about politics. Sometimes to get somewhere requires you bend over for your employer…
Right and wrong? Well, it’s against the law not to pay employees that are working. If you log hours on time sheets- add your weekend hours. If questioned, say “I was working, right?”
There are some well meaning employers out there, but big business rests for no one.
Pick a place to work that doesn’t take you for granted or that respects your personal time and family… then tell me who they are… cause I’m interested- lol

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