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Keeping the work and life balance

July 29, 2020 Andrew McIntee, Global Industry Solutions

One of the central pillars of our sustainability pledge is the well-being of people including the balancing of work and life. The current pandemic has made lots more people work from home blurring those boundaries between work and life. People have dealt with this in many different ways, for some it means working more hours, others it means balancing childcare during the day and working at night whereas, some others have clawed back the time normally spent within traffic on the commute to do something else.

As we approach the northern hemisphere's main vacation season, I was asked to cover the marketing inbox for a colleague during her holiday. Following our latest e-shot, there was quite a few out of office replies received. About halfway through it struck me that there is a whole range of work life balances neatly captured within about 20 words. At the one end of a scale we have those people who despite having vacation and being out of the office still continue to work. At the other end PTO (paid time off) reverts from pretend time off to its true meaning of paid time off. Removing personal details then here are some examples.

First in the measure are the workers. I’m out of the office…

  • I check my other email address more regularly than this one. If you would like a prompt response please use that one
  • Please do not hesitate to leave a message on my mobile
  • I am monitoring the email from time to time. Please allow me 24 hours response to your message

There are then people who are still working but only if it's important to them.

  • I will check for priority email and have my cell
  • Checking intermittently
  • Checking periodically
  • Expect a delayed response
  • Although still in lockdown, I am taking some holiday, and I am camping in the back garden with the kids! I am still on email and will answer when I can

The next step on the scale is for people who are not working but feel that they are important enough to still be working during this time.

  • Urgent – call the mobile
  • If you require immediate assistance, I can be reached at
  • Contact these people …

We then progress to where the life element starts to take a little bit more prominence. These responses are considered as I'll get back to you when I get back.

  • Respond when I get back
  • Your e-mail will not be forwarded. I will answer it when I am back
  • I am currently on annual leave. I will respond as quickly as possible upon my return
  • I will not be monitoring email while I am out

We then progressed further into the life side of the balance with the category of I'm not working and I care about myself - though some of these may be a little too direct.

  • I'll be out of the office. In this period I will not read any e-mail
  • I have limited access to my E-Mails. Please contact me again after my returning
  • I will not have access to my email. All emails will be permanently deleted

But the best one that I saw was in a category all of its own saying I care about my work life balance and I also care about yours.

  • I am on holidays. Thank you for contacting me and have a great summer holiday too

Whatever you call it - vacation, holiday, paid time off; it is a really important factor in maintaining your work life balance. Please remember to stop.

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