The law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges sent an email to its employees on April 1 stating that electronic messages would not be transmitted by the firm’s servers late at night or be delivered to employees while on vacation. Seems like a reasonable and respectful way to counter the constant need for connectivity among professionals, in an effort to reduce stress and improve health and well-being, right?
Unfortunately, the “policy” turned out to be an April Fools’ Day prank by the law firm’s management (see reporting here and here). The final sentence of the email announcing the purported policy was: “We are proud to be taking a leadership role in caring about our colleagues’ quality of life.”
Ha ha. That’s a good one. Now get back to responding to your email at 3am.
Fortunately, the backlash against the joke, once its true nature was revealed, was significant enough that the firm’s managing partner issued a formal apology.
There is no sign, however, that the firm is planning to turn the joke into reality by changing any of its policies or practices governing email or other electronic communications.
Too bad, given that even simple practices such as giving team members one communication-free evening a week, can have significant positive effects on stress levels, productivity, and morale. For some good case studies of such efforts, see Sleeping with Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work by Leslie A. Perlow.