However, industry figures have emphasised the importance of ensuring policies on working outside normal 'office' hours are fair and don't lead to employee burnout.
The idea of a ban hit the news this week after the union Prospect called for the Government to give employees a legally binding "right to disconnect", following similar moves in Ireland, France, the Philippines and Argentina, among other countries.
Prospect argues that an ‘always-on’ work culture is leading to increased stress levels and burnout.
However, PRWeek's snap poll of 256 Twitter users found just one in four believe comms pros should be banned from sending any out-of-hours work emails. Just over 30 per cent favour a general ban allowing for exceptions, while 44.5 per cent oppose the move entirely.
Should comms pros be banned from sending out-of-hours work emails? (As recommended by Prospect union). Please vote and leave a comment.— PRWeek UK (@prweekuknews) June 3, 2021
Read a selection of the responses below:
@prweekuknews This is just not realistic, as well as missing media/client deadlines, a ban could also seek to exclude those working flexibly.— Anna Geffert (@AnnaGeff) June 4, 2021
Can we not just use a bit of common sense, empathy and a note re responding during your working hours (unless urgent)? @John_Harring https://t.co/mvBB69tIIM
Banning out of hours emails seems a bit extreme. Sometimes they are needed.— jamescrawford (@jamescrawford) June 3, 2021
Stopping presentism, pointless emails and inefficiency must be the goal.
Banning out-of-hours emails without addressing *why* they are being sent is pointless. I've seen people working until midnight but sending all their emails on delayed send. Technically they aren't sending emails out of hours, but they are still working a 15 hour day...— Daniella Graham (@daniellagraham) June 3, 2021
Try telling that to crisis teams— Con Franklin (@ConFranklin) June 3, 2021
How does this work with media relations and crisis comms? BAU I agree with— H (@HarrietSmallies) June 3, 2021
We can’t seek a flexible culture and then put in hard and fast rules. It’s all a question of good leadership, prioritising and planning - and making sure you respect your people’s and your own down time.— Sophie Timms (@SophieATimms) June 4, 2021
Reality: an official ban w/ exceptions could be effective.— Annique Simpson #BLM (@annique_simpson) June 3, 2021
Also reality: I have free will. I don’t have to read the emails unless I want to. If you send it to me & I don’t read it, it’s your bad.
Last chance to participate in this poll. My view? Definite challenges to prescriptive hours in PR, trust and fluidity are preferential. However, sometimes to establish/reinforce appropriate cultures, some guidelines can be helpful. 'Freedom with parameters.' https://t.co/w29wAlYRvy— Jane Fordham (@Fordiham) June 4, 2021
It's not practical. My stakeholders don't work office hours. Plus i like to make the decision whether I want or not to reply to emails. It doesn't need to be regimented.— Matt Batten (@CommsGuyMatt) June 3, 2021
It should be about setting boundaries, not bans. People should be able to set a working model right for them (and their business) but with an understanding that what's right for them, won't be right for someone else. Plus there's nothing worse than a flood of emails at 5:29 pm!— Abbie Hughes (@Abbie82) June 3, 2021
What about international clients / correspondence?— Jessica Hope (@WimbartHope) June 3, 2021
“Right to disconnect” is a fair ask and could go a long way towards solving burnout but blanket ban seems impractical in comms esp. with more flex working. More about agreeing ‘core’ hours and if there is an urgent situation outside of those, skip email and pick up the phone.— tom winterton (@tomwinterton) June 3, 2021
A ban is unnecessary. People should be free to choose when they send...and when they reply. If you wouldn't phone someone at that time, don't expect them to be on emails either— Katy Branson (@katyludditt) June 4, 2021