HR & Management

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The benefits of being unavailable

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Every second working individual is keeping themselves available for their bosses, colleagues and clients during their time off. Taking calls and replying to emails doesn’t stop in the evening, on the weekend, or even on holiday – and most of us don’t seem to mind.

It helps that business increasingly allows us a certain amount of flexibility in our working hours. The nine-to-five time of attendance has mostly turned into a guideline, and both business leaders and their employees are expected to be responsible and pro-active enough to pick their own hours; which are: 24/7.

Recent research by Forsa, a polling firm, found that some 47 per cent of employed women and 35 per cent of employed men are happy with their work-life-balance, and living in an “always on” environment. 

The main motivation behind being always available is of course: self marketing. It’s meant to show eagerness and passion for the job. 

But who are those professionals that usually don’t pick up when their phone rings, whose diary is always so full that getting a slot in it is considered a minor miracle? MDs, CEOs, executives, directors. If you’re busy and important, being available is a luxury.

Career coach Martin Wehrle suggests that the impression we give when we’re always available is not necessarily a good one. Rather, it makes us seems as if we had nothing to do – nothing important, at least.

Wehrle suggests that it’s okay to not always jump to the call of a superior or client. Busy with another project? Finish it first, then call them back. 

The result will be the enlightenment that your setting priorities suggests that you have other important projects to take care of, and should not be disturbed for peanuts.

That doesn’t mean you should fake your own busyness; but be comfortable with the right to prioritise, and to be unavailable once in a while. It will gain you respect, rather than make you lose it, and teach those you work with to allow you to keep your own priorities.

What do you think? Always on or unavailable – what’s better for your reputation, and for your business?

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