Don’t bother me while I’m at work

I had a very interesting chat today with a colleague who objects to the fact that we recently installed poster holders on the back of every toilet door in the building, strategically positioned to catch the attention of anyone seated therein.

He accepts quite happily that when he is out on the lash he expects to see toilet advertising. He’s fine with that; that’s quite legitimate and makes commercial sense. He does not accept however that his employer should use similar tactics to try to grab his attention when he is in a state of temporary captivity and at his most vulnerable, with his trousers wrapped around his ankles.

Just turn up

And he wasn’t getting precious about us intruding on his ‘me time’ in trap two. Investigating his stance further it became clear that he just doesn’t want to be ‘spammed’ when it’s not on his terms. “Don’t bother me while I’m at work” he said, “send me an email so I can delete it if the subject does not interest me”.

The content carried over the last few weeks on ‘Loo Media’ promoted a company donation of £100 to every member of staff to give to a charity of their choice when they sign up for payroll giving, and a reminder that any member of staff who introduces a graduate to the company’s graduate programme would win a bounty of £500 if subsequently selected.

It’s hardly propaganda is it? It’s not like we are trying to ram our core values down his throat.

What struck me most though was the ‘don’t bother me while I’m at work’ line. Would he prefer to be ‘bothered’ when not at work? Of course not.

He seemed oblivious to the fact that ‘bothering’ him while he was at work is precisely what any reasonable employer would seek to do in an effort to make his work experience more fulfilling and rewarding. His attitude was you pay me to do a job, I do my job, that’s it. I don’t ask for you to communicate with me, so you have no right to communicate with me.

What next I wonder. Maybe an opt out clause in every new starter’s contract, giving them the option not to receive any form of internal communication? Perhaps an unsubscribe button on every corporate email? I know – how about a 15 yard exclusion zone preventing any manager from violating his personal space?

I guess it’s just been one of those days…..

8 thoughts on “Don’t bother me while I’m at work

  1. Shhhhh! He sits quite close to you 😉 It’s certainly a new level of something. It is very rare these days that I encounter an attitude that nearly floors me with its blend of originality and extreme cynicism.

  2. Wow – twice in 24 hours. Check this out!

    Here are a couple of excerpts: “where did I ever give consent to be spammed by corporate comms?” and “I personally can safely say that each and every email I’ve ever received from a comms team has been deleted. At BEST they’re of zero interest. At WORST (which is 99% of the time) they just get in the way and are a distraction.” Strong stuff and difficult to take given my chosen profession!

    Now I know there are 2 people out there with such views. How many more?

  3. Just read that post you linked to there, and think there’s a slightly different argument in it. It’s one thing having a complete hatred of every comms email, which is clearly idiotic, but I take his point about getting six in a week.

    That’s something that’s changed a lot since you came to Betfair – less spamming with internal ‘to all’ emails. Am sure most people would agree that’s a good thing!

  4. Agreed, six in a week is far too many. I’ve always said that over using any channel reduces its effectiveness over time as people get less and less receptive. I still think this guy is pretty extreme with his “have all yours also been total balls” sign-off about emails from his CEO. Thanks for keeping the discussion going!

  5. Hi guys; saw the link to my article here and thought I’d chip in with a bit of background.

    I wrote that blog post whilst working for a large financial services company, whose internal comms email volume were increasing exponentially on a weekly basis. I have absolutely no issue with these messages when they’re:

    1) Timely
    2) Relevant
    3) Consistent
    4) Moderate

    …so actually, exactly what I’d expect from a commercial outift’s (eBay, Amazon, etc) email marketing approach. I don’t think this is unreasonable. I’d also say that internal comms emails are a key communication channel for reaching the wider employee audience, and a valuable channel at that.

    My annoyance (and associated reasoning) isn’t quite so broad as “Don’t bother me while I’m at work”, but more along the lines that:

    1) Everyone was receiving emails that were actually nothing to do with us, our department or our business/customers
    2) They appeared at random times of the day, clogging our inboxes – which are size-limited. When you exceed the limit, guess what? You get an email telling you.

    Quite honestly, though, I stand by the ‘CEO’ comment. Trying to deliver empathetic or inspiring messages to ‘connect’ with staff by email instantly fails: as we all know, one of the key issues with emails is the lack of personal communication methods (body language, tonality, inflection, and so on). If the message is THAT important, get it out there differently.

    Happy to discuss in more detail. 🙂


  6. Hi George, great to see your comments, thanks for visiting! I love that email clogging bit. Of course the email telling you that you can no longer send or receive emails until you have cleared some space in your mailbox arrives when you are out of the office on Blackberry and therefore unable to clear the space, thus rendering you cut off from the mothership for days.

    I agree with 3 out of your 4 email desired characteristics. Not sure about moderate. I think being extreme often livens up a piece of communication and makes it readable and memorable. Moderate feels a bit bland short on energy. That said, I’m not a buyer of contrived razzamatazz and corporate puff without substance.

    And I agree with the CEO email comment to a point. If the CEO only sends emails I’m with you. If the CEO does lots of good rich media stuff as well, like face-to-face, floor walking, micro blogging etc, then the odd lean email is forgivable. Thanks again!


  7. Hey Jon;

    No probs – I enjoy keeping the debate going. 😉

    I think I miscommunicated a little there when I said ‘Moderate’: I was meaning more from a timing perspective (though in fairness I probably covered that with ‘Timely’). My fault!


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