When I send out my email newsletter, sometimes I get an autoresponder like this:
Thank you for your email. Staff email hours are 7:45 am – 4:00 pm Monday – Friday. It is common practice to expect a three-business day window between receipt of an email and a response.
This is brilliant. I know when the recipient checks their email, and I know not to expect a response for three days. If my matter is urgent, I can do the work of finding a phone number. Better yet, I can breathe for a second and realize, “Okay — my question can wait up to three days.”
If you’d like a more humane workplace environment, consider calling for this norm in your school or district. You might even pass along this very article that you're reading. Norms like this help parents, students, teachers, and administrators do better work and live better lives. Because here's the thing: our best thinking dies when it’s interrupted by email. Our most sacred relationships suffer when we interrupt them with electronic communication. And our capacity for patience atrophies a bit each time we send communication expecting an immediate response.
In closing: can you imagine a world where we didn’t expect a response to electronic communication for three days? I can almost feel my lung capacity expand at the thought of it.
Thank you to the Bio-Med Science Academy of Rootstown, OH, where this norm is in place. In the summer of 2020, clear, uniform email norms are more important considerations than ever.