Office hours are dead. How do you manage in a 24-7 workplace?

The always-on business environment poses serious staffing and leadership challenges. Here’s how to cope

Open 24 Hours sign

(Richard Kolker/Getty)

Should you expect your staff to be always on call? We asked for your advice on managing a 24-7 work world. Here are some great insights from readers.

Office hours are dead. Accept it:

“The idea that you can get away from things is really dated. A person in any senior role is always on the clock. For employees, the best way to handle it is to set some parameters. Perhaps you’re open to answering e-mails on certain days or during certain hours? Take charge of finding a balance that works for you. Ask yourself: How do I do my best work, the work that adds most value? The focus needs to be less on hours worked and more on output. Some people find this isolating; others find it empowering. But it’s the way of the future.”

Dan Schawbel, consultant and author, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, New York

Practise give-and-take:

“We’ve been a 24-7 business for 49 years. We have to be responsive to our clients at all hours. That means our employees have to be prepared to take calls at irregular times. But we give birthdays off with pay. And anyone on holiday gets to unplug; we insist they leave their work phones at home. We only hire people who have the mindset of being engaged. If you hire someone with a nine-to-five mentality, that’ll never work. It’s hard to motivate people who aren’t self-motivated.”

Cindy Roma, co-CEO, Telelink, St. John’s, Nfld.

Respect their time:

“Employees connected 24-7? Not in my company. Staff deserve time with their families without their boss virtually being at the dinner table, on the nightstand or in the bathroom. People need to learn that nothing is so important it can’t wait until tomorrow.”

Kent Raistrick, partner, Winchester Print & Stationery, Winchester, Ont.

Hire to fill gaps:

“Visitors from different time zones access our website and social media platforms 24-7, so we cannot afford to fall asleep on the job, so to speak. Often, these visits are from clients looking for immediate interaction. Sometimes, they have negative comments. For us, there is real value in hiring professional social media communicators. My staff does not have the experience or time to manage our social media around the clock. And I do need to sleep on occasion!”

Marija Pavkovic, managing director, MaKami College, Calgary

Insist on leisure:

“In 2014, if you want the six-figure job and the status that comes with it, you have to be available at all times. People with balanced lives tend not to rise up the corporate ladder. But that doesn’t mean never taking a break. We’re seeing a lot of mental health issues arising from people feeling they just can’t get away. You need a hobby, something you’re just as passionate about as work. Leisure is a huge stress reliever.”

Chris Higgins, professor, Ivey Business School, London, Ont.

Give them fuel:


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