Always on:  reachable for everybody everywhere, whatever you are doing?

My office is very mobile, I have a company phone, a laptop- so I can basically work wherever I am. And don’t get me wrong in a lot of situations this is very helpful. You are away from the office meeting clients, hanging around hotels and airports you have time to kill. This can be used wonderfully to keep up with your office life to not be overwhelmed when you return.  You are always on!

Always on

Working life

But there are situations that are different. You are at home, on vacation- off work. So now what to do?

I worked in sales and had customers all around the world. I had calls at 10pm.  As a product manager with a brand new product, still in trial phase, I had a customer calling at Christmas day, or others showing my product while I was on vacation calling that something does not work. Do you still pick-up? Most of the time I did.

I work and always worked with partners, clients and co-workers world wide, so my Email account doesn’t stop filling up while I am at home. At the beginning I did check my Emails also from home or from vacation. There could be something super important and while I was at it I answered some of them.

Also looking at my work day: I went into work earlier and earlier to have some time for my work and do my mails before the meeting marathon started.

All this I did because I thought it was what is expected of me. We see our bosses telling us it is ok to reach them on vacation, we see our colleagues who are always reachable. And last but really important: we think if we don’t answer a question, a request right away the world will collapse around us.

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When is it important?

Being honest to myself I checked all those habits, one of them being to check my mails, before I had brushed my teeth.

And yes there are situations where it is important to be reachable, but those are rare. Does the world really go down, if you answer an Email the next day? Or take a small decision not right away, but maybe two days later? Most of the time the answer is “no”, nothing really bad happens if you do that.

Also being reachable while on vacation is a topic. Yes, being not reachable for 2-3 weeks might seem long in the work environment we live in. But ask yourself, what does really happen in this time? What if somebody else takes the wrong way because he or she couldn’t reach you? Or maybe he/ she just takes a different way? Does your vacation come unplanned? Are there things that can be sorted easily beforehand? I asked myself all these questions- and my work phone stays back home now.

On the other hand, if I know a customer is trying out something for me and is in a situation that it has to work at all times, of course I still pick up the phone.

So I found some solutions that work for me, but I have still topics for which I found no solution yet,  like the meeting marathon I sometimes have.

This is also true for your private life. Is it really necessary to be always reachable? Do you have to answer the Whats App from a fiend the minute you receive it?

I don’t think so. I think you can still be a good friend even if you need some time to answer.

But I did learn a few things already:

  • If somebody takes another route- it might be the better one
  • Answering Emails at all times is not necessary- most things can wait a few hours without the world falling apart
  • If something goes the wrong way it is most of the time fixable
  • Being not reachable while on vacation is no problem

What are your thoughts? Are you always on?

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