🖐️ 5 Reasons to Stop Asking Your Team to Work Off-Hour
And what you should do instead
Either as a leader, startup owner, or individual contributor, you might’ve been in a situation where you need to work off-hour (beyond 5 pm or the weekend). And whether it’s deliberate or not you might’ve asked your team to do so as well.
You ask your data analyst for an urgent 20 page report that should be submitted by Monday - on Friday evening.
“Heya, Mr. Shivambudi said this need to be done tomorrow. Can you quickly look at it?” at 11 pm.
… or implicitly…
You reply email at 10 pm.
You send code change and requesting code review on Saturday.
Asking your team to work off-hour is actually suboptimal both short-term and long-term. Here’s why:
You won’t get what you want
You’re not resting
It hinders creativity
It kills morale
You will lose team members
Let’s explore them one by one.
🙅♀️ You Won’t Get What You Want
Have you ever seen someone who opens emails from the oldest one rather than the latest one which appears at the top? Have you ever meet someone who replies to Slack messages from the oldest unread messages vs the most recent ones?
Yeah, me neither.
Email clients and communication channels are built to prioritize the latest information. Because often it’s the most relevant one.
Imagine emailing someone on Friday night at 8 pm. By Monday 9.30 am your email will be the last thing this person reads, piled under tenths of other (spammy/promotional) emails.
🛌🏾 You're Not Resting
You’re taking your time away from your family. And if your time is not important for you, then think about this: you are taking someone else’s time away from their family.
Asking people to work at night and weekends means you’re creating a pressure-cooker culture where everybody will eventually break down.
💡 It Hinders Creativity
Related to my previous post, to be creative someone need to have extra time and mental space. Just like Cassandra needs ± 30% of free space to compact its data, humans need to lead a life of leisure to be creative.
Software engineering and product development is a creative job. So you need to be very careful about losing creativity within the team.
😩 It Kills Morale
People don’t like to be asked to work on the weekend. It’s even considered illegal in most of Europe.
Do it once or twice, your team might understand and might even be happy due to the shared pain. Do it every week and you will kill the team’s morale.
🏃 You Will Lose Team Members
What happens after morale is killed? That’s right, people start leaving. When people are leaving, the remaining team member will start thinking as well:
“She left. Did she know something that I don’t?”
“I am happy here. But this is a reminder that maybe it’s the right time to consider other opportunities”
“Look at all these job left by Alice! I’ll quit if we don’t get any help by next Monday!”
People who’re unhappy in their role usually won’t recommend the job to their friends.
What You Should Do Instead
Schedule your communications. Schedule your emails. Schedule your Slack messages. Not practical, but you should schedule your commits and pull requests as well. Based on my previous post, 9.41 am is the best time to schedule your emails and messages.
Reduce dependency. People work on weekends because they need to catch deadlines. Usually, deadlines are created through dependencies with other parties. Minimizing dependency equals minimizing deadline.
Plan your 3rd party discussion. Working with 3rd party will generate dependency, thus generating deadlines. Sometimes it’s impossible as you grow in your career (or the company grows in size) to not work with 3rd party companies at all.
Prioritize 3rd party as non-movable deadlines. Expect 3rd party discussion to be slow. Better planning will give you better weekends.