Work-life balance in the PR industry has always been widely debated. However, the issue has reached fever-pitch in the past decade, owing to the rapid development of mobile technology and the ability to monitor and respond to work-related communications anywhere, at any time. For many people, this has created significant pressure to be “always on” and created a spike in stress levels as a result.
To release some of this pressure, a number of companies – such as Lidl – have implemented access bans on emails outside of normal working hours. However, although clearly well-intentioned, new research has suggested that it could actually do more harm than good.
It’s a difficult balance to strike. Whilst no one should be made to feel pressured to constantly monitor emails at home, due to the nature of our industry there will always be times when we need to be flexible and react to the news agenda after 6pm. Being prevented from doing so can have a negative impact, as some team members struggle to achieve their work goals.
And, with over half of people in the UK having worked remotely in the last year, according to a recent CIPD study, it’s clear that the trend for flexibility is here to stay. Taking away employee’s freedom to email whenever they want can therefore hinder this progress and the flexibility that remote working provides.
Respect individual preferences
A PR team – indeed, any team – works best when it comprises of a range of people, skills, personalities and strengths. But, by necessity, this means that employees will have different ways of working.
It is therefore crucial to respect the individual preference of each employee when it comes to completing work tasks and projects. Some will feel more comfortable having access to work communications in the evening (whether that be emails, social media, WhatsApp or other platforms), whilst others will be more productive if they can completely switch off. Employee work-life balance is vital for a healthy working environment so, as long as business-critical activity isn’t missed, when and where employees access emails should be left up to the individual.
Every member of staff – no matter their role – should be given responsibility to determine their own working style; one that drives maximum productivity. This can also be applied to client communication, and the question of whether agencies should be available 24/7. It is up to each business owner to set boundaries, while ensuring productive, seamless and effective service delivery that works for everyone.
Use communications carefully
Ultimately, sending emails out-of-hours, at a time that suits you, is not a problem in itself. The issue comes when the recipient of that email feels pressured to reply; something that can be easily mitigated through careful consideration of how your communication will be received – and amending if necessary. Instilling this approach throughout the business will not only aid team morale and motivation but also drive job satisfaction across the board.
Written by Laura Mashiter, founder and MD of agency Refresh PR
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