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  • Writer's pictureKacie Sizemore

Mitigate the "Always-On" Culture

We’ve all received an email from our boss at 9pm on a Friday and feel the need to get back into work mode even though we are two glasses of wine deep into our evening. While these disruptions may have been rare during pre-COVID19 times, they have become a staple in our work lives during recent months.

Now that remote work has become the standard; many employees find their workdays are becoming exceedingly protracted. Some relate their additional hours to a better use of the time that otherwise would have been consumed by long commutes. Others do not realize how much time has passed while plugging away from their home office. However, many folks are scrambling to find enough time to get their work done while balancing homeschooling, elder care, or a shared space with a working spouse or roommate, so they fit their work in when they can, regardless of the time on the clock.

This atypical way of working means that some teams are churning 24/7, which can lead to burnout of people across the organization. Fortunately, a few simple actions can help curve the always-on cycle, making everyone a little happier and less stressed.

Core Hours

With new demands pulling employees in every direction, we can’t expect people to be available during the same 8-10 hour window that they were in pre-COVID19 times. However, core hours let us have the entire team available at set times throughout the day. In essence, core hours are 2-4 hours that every employee on the team must be online or accessible. Perhaps you do one chunk of core time from 9am-12pm, or maybe you have two separate core times like 10am-12pm and again from 2pm-4pm. Outside of the core hours, employees are free to get the rest of their work done at times that suit them best.

Each team should be able to customize their core hours and make them known to the rest of the company. This approach helps with team collaboration, and it allows other teams to know the best time to reach individuals from other groups.

ZZ Mail

Remember that 9 pm email from your boss? Or maybe your get messages from an enthusiastic salesperson who forgets about delay sending those 2am emails asking for your help with client presentations? Zz mail will save you from those intrusive, off-hour pings. Zz mail serves as a delayed receive for emails coming in at all hours of the day and night by setting perimeters on when email can enter your inbox. Typically, zz mail is active during set hours, for example, between 8 pm and 7 am. This approach will help eliminate the angst you feel when those emails come in during your downtime because you won’t see them until you start your workday.


Many of us are not leaving home as much these days, which sometimes leads to days running into the night without us realizing the amount of time that has passed. On the surface, it may seem fantastic that everyone is putting in more time. However, this overextension can lead to burnout and decreased productivity; none of us want that.

Encourage the use of alarms on phones or computers to alert folks of quitting time so they can relish in well-deserved rest.


Whether you implement some of these approaches or all of them, teams must have the final say in what works best for their unique situations. Allowing individuals and their workgroups the autonomy to set healthy boundaries will ultimately lead to a more satisfied and engaged workforce.

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