As part of a Wellness Month initiative, Carat, a UK media company, is banning after-hours emails.
Managing director Matthew Landeman explains the move:
We are mobile and connected 24/7 so it is becoming more and more ‘normal’ to send communications to each other well outside of reasonable working hours and people often feel under pressure to respond to these communications.
“Overall this has a negative effect on productivity and wellbeing as it means we get less overall down time, less opportunity to manage the cadence of our lives, and less time for re-setting our levels of energy and focus so we are happier and better at what we do overall at home and in the workplace.
The pressure of waiting emails can encourage employees to answer even at the cost of their own well-being. Rather than simply suggesting employees feel free to avoid email outside of work hours (a suggestion that may well be ignored), Carat started its ‘respectful email’ initiative. For four weeks, the company insists that emails only be sent between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the work week, and otherwise only for emergencies.
This year’s wellness month initiatives also include more than 50 free activities and lectures at Carat’s London office. Last year, the company encouraged staff to take 20-minute breaks in an isolated sleep pod, taught staff about meditation and mindfulness, led outdoor walks, and encouraged staff to take lunch breaks with helpful suggestions on what to do with the time.
We know that overwork causes serious health and productivity issues, but many game development studios still prefer to either push for long hours or let employees set their own upper-level limits. This often leads to a culture of crunch, intended or not.
Temporary as they may be, Carat’s solutions take some of the choices out of their employees’ hands in the pursuit of better mental health and wellbeing. That may be the best approach for any company in an industry that regularly encourages individuals to push themselves to their limits — like ours.