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Blog - How to stop email communication being a source of pressure in lockdown

How to stop email communication being a source of pressure in lockdown

Posted by Stella Chandler 03/07/20

Working during lockdownAt one of our clients last week, a team member had received a cutting email from her manager about a piece of work. The email was not well worded and was sent late on Friday afternoon. The team member spent a miserable weekend, anxious about the exchange and resentful about the way the feedback had been communicated.

She resolved it with a phone call on Monday morning and was able to explain how it had made her feel. Her manager had no awareness of the impact his email might have and was able to learn from the conversation. This had a happy outcome, but it could so easily have gone the other way, with tensions building and the relationship suffering as a result.

In another organisation where we have run a session looking at effective remote team working, the biggest concern to emerge was the increased volume of emails and particularly those being sent in the evenings and weekends, creating a sense of everyone needing to be constantly “in work mode”.

Both examples show how communication can add to existing pressures, rather than alleviate them and have an adverse effect on wellbeing. But with a bit of thought and some discussion, it could all be so different.

An inspiring C.E.O. in one of our clients has been leading from the front in this area…

• She has encouraged people to have wording on their email footers to say that their  working patterns may be different others and the usual core hours and it doesn’t mean they are expecting an immediate response or for people to work outside their own core hours

• The organisation have created a “coffee roulette” with a random selection of 2 people in the organisation having a virtual coffee together and she has taken part every time

• She recently had a few days off, told people that she was having a break and made a point of not sending any emails or communication to her team during that time

Other tips to help email communication be a positive in your teams…

• Write emails in a batch if you are working late and set them to send at a future date – for example Monday morning

• Think about holding an exchange of expectations discussion with your colleagues, manager, team member to establish ways of working, including how feedback will be discussed. This will help prevent misunderstanding and create more productive ways of working together. Our webinar recording on Managing Our Teams Remotely discusses our exchanging expectations model 

• Use the changes in our working patterns to “reset” your flexible working policy – or create one if you don’t already have one. This can now include introducing some protocols around new working from home arrangements

• Remember to review all discussions, policies and guidelines as the working landscape continues to shift. Set an expectation that these will have to change to reflect the way things evolve

For more Information on how we can help you open up discussions with your teams around behaviour and communication in the workplace call us on 01903 732 782, email or contact us.

All our workshops can be run virtually via videoconference platforms – so we can support your needs even while people continue to work remotely. 

Stella Chandler
Stella Chandler

I thrive on seeing people do things they didn’t think they could do! I draw on my management and leadership experience from working in senior positions in the Metropolitan Police Service, running Focal Point since 2002 and working across all three sectors in the widest variety of environments. Because we rarely learn things first time, we believe it is vital to provide support before, during and after the events we run, in order to get the best from them. Time and time again people have told us how the chance to review their learning and to have their actions reinforced has really helped cement new ways of doing things. This is what has then made the difference that they and we are looking for. I am a fellow of the CIPD and when I am not working with clients I can be seen on the golf courses of Hampshire.

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