How to get your team to unplug from email over the holidays

The holidays are a time when many employers give their team time off to rest and rejuvenate. But actually disconnecting from work is tough when we’re constantly getting notifications and can access our work anytime, anywhere.

That’s why some of the world’s most successful companies are rethinking the way they encourage work-life balance. German automobile maker Daimler, which owns brands like Mercedes-Benz and Smart, started a program that auto-deletes their team’s emails while they’re on vacation. Arianna Huffington does the same for her team at Thrive Global.

The efforts are worldwide, too. France passed a law giving workers the “Right to Disconnect” — requiring companies to set specific hours when employees are banned from reading or sending email.

Unplugging from work on vacation has clear benefits. For employees, it boosts productivity, increases creativity, and even reduces your risk for heart disease. And according to a US Travel Association study, the majority of managers agree that time off improves health and well-being and increases focus when you return.

This year, challenge your team to unplug from email for the holidays. Since it’s easier said than done, here are four ways to help your team successfully resist the urge to open their inboxes.

How to encourage your team to unplug from email

1. Use an out of office email responder

This one’s a no-brainer. Create a vacation responder to automatically reply when you’re out of the office for the holidays. Not sure how to write a great out of office email? We made this Out of Office Email Generator to help you out.

If your team is using Front to manage your email, you can set vacation responders for specific time periods. That way you never have to worry about switching it on and off. You can also use dynamic variables to keep your messages personal. Just type {{ to automatically populate data like the sender’s name or email address into your response.

Unplug for the holidays - vacation responder

In Front, you can create a vacation responder that auto-populates certain details, like the recipient's name.

2. Turn off your notifications

This is critical if you’re really going to disconnect from your email. In our recent survey, 70 percent of respondents said they receive 10 or more emails each day, and 66 percent said notifications make their job more stressful. So when you’re at home cooking turkey for the family, getting email notifications on your phone isn’t going to help you relax.

Before you leave for the holidays, pull out your phone and switch off push notifications for Gmail or Outlook. Voice it to your team, too, because they’ll be more likely to participate if you lead by example when you’re unplugging.

If you’re using Front, you can do this by going into Out of Office mode. When you're in Out of Office mode, your notifications are muted and messages cannot be assigned to you. Any time you get a reply to a message that originated in a team inbox, like success@acmecorp.com, the conversation automatically goes back to your shared team inbox. That way, your teammates who are working can see the message and pick up the conversation where you left off.

Unplug from email - out of office Front's Out of Office mode mutes your notifications and makes sure no new messages are assigned to you.

When you go Out of Office, all the ongoing conversations that get replies while you’re out, get moved to your shared team inbox, so someone else can respond.

3. Remind yourself to follow up

A big reason people feel stressed about disconnecting is a fear that they’ll forget and drop the ball on what they’re working on. This holiday season, let yourself forget by preparing ahead of time.

Make a master follow-up to-do list for yourself to reference when you return. Go through your inbox and make note of any conversation that’s unfinished. Write them all down, with the date of your last message. Then go enjoy a first, second, and third helping of pie — there’s no need to try to remember everything when you’ve got a thorough list of what to follow up on when you’re back.

In Front, your team can set reminders on emails so you never forget to follow up on a conversation — even after you’ve spent three weeks having fun with your family.

Unplug from your email - reminders You can set reminders on email in Front, so you never forget to follow up on a message.

When you set a reminder on a message, it’ll automatically pop back up in your inbox if you haven’t received a reply. That way, you can fully unplug while you’re out of office, since you know you won’t forget a single follow-up when you’re back.

4. Give someone else access to your inbox

If dropping the ball on something urgent is a big concern for your team, an option is to give someone else access to their inbox. The issue here? If you’re using Outlook or Gmail, the only way to do this is to share logins and passwords. Chances are, this won’t fly with your security team.

If you’re using Front, however, your team can easily grant someone else access to their individual inbox for a period of time. So if something incredibly urgent comes in, you can rest assured it’ll get handled.

Your team might think, “I would never let someone else read my emails...” And they’re not alone. Email transparency can feel a little scary at first, but we challenge everyone to think about what’s so secretive that it can’t be shared. Chances are, there’s not much your teammates shouldn’t see or don’t already know about.

Logging off

It’s challenging to disconnect from our email and work when we’re so used to being always on. Psychologist Adam Alter explains in his Ted Talk that the way we consume media today, there are no stopping cues — signals that tell us to stop and move onto the next thing we’re doing. This means that we need to be intentional about not checking our email. So, if all else fails, you can always just log off on your phone and call it a day.

This holiday season, try disconnecting from email while you’re out of the office — and encourage your team to do the same. It might be hard at first, but the benefits will far outweigh the extra time spent on your screen.

🎁 Taking time off this holiday season? Try our handy holiday-themed Out of Office Email Generator to create the perfect out of office message, customized for you.

Unplug from email - Out of office email generator