Handling After-Hours Work Emails and Texts

You're just about to get ready for bed when you get a work-related text. Do you really need to answer that now?

Everyone needs a balance between their work and personal life, so it can be frustrating to receive texts, calls or emails about work when you're at home in the evenings or at weekends. Whether you really need to respond depends partly on the nature of the message. If it's an email someone sent at the end of the workday that you just saw after you got home, you can usually wait till working hours. Responding to an email within 24 hours is generally acceptable. Text messages can be trickier.

If it's a text and the sender can see that you saw it, you should at least send a brief acknowledgement. If it's not an emergency, just acknowledge it and let them know you'll deal with the issue in the morning or on Monday. With emails, you may also send a short message letting the sender know when you can get back to them, or set an out-of-office auto-reply.

With certain jobs, you're required to be on-call outside of work hours. While this is draining on your personal life, if it's your responsibility that you've agreed to ahead of time, you have to deal with it. However, if you haven't agreed to this and your boss keeps contacting you outside of work, consider having a discussion about boundaries. Express willingness to be on call at certain times, for example, at an extremely busy time of the year or in urgent situations.

If you feel anxious about constant emails and texts, set aside some time to unplug. Turn off your phone during meals or when you go to sleep. That way, you honestly didn't see the message. Unless you're specifically required to be on call, it's reasonable to leave work for working hours.


Consider the nature of the message
Brief acknowledgement
Is it part of your responsibility?
Set aside time to unplug