(This article appeared previously on MarketWatch.com.)
When you get a work email, do you (a) reply immediately, (b) let out an expletive or (c) think on it? And — what if it’s on the weekend?
At work, nearly 1 in 5 people expect you to answer an email within 12 hours and almost no one (3 percent) tolerates a week-long wait. However, 10 percent of people say they’re prepared to wait a week for an answer to a personal email.
“People are more demanding, especially Millennials, and want real-time communication, which is why texting, instant messaging and Facebook chat are so popular,” he says. “If you don’t hear from someone in an hour, you immediately feel like they are ignoring you because you’re used to instant gratification.”
Waiting 12 hours to answer a work email is one surefire way to lose business and alienate people. “Turnaround demand is at least twice that fast,” says Jonathan Bernstein, president of public relations consultancy Bernstein Crisis Management. “I have both landed and retained business because of how promptly I respond.”
The One-Minute Rule
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, spent a year trying out studies and philosophies about what makes people happy: She recommends the “one minute rule” for all tasks so they take up less space in your head. If it takes less than one minute to respond, do it.
Worried about job security, some people never switch off. “There is a sense of courtesy when it comes to workplace communication,” Schawbel says. “If you aren’t responsive to emails, it paints a negative image of you as lazy at work.”
Over 50 percent of adults said they check work messages at least once a day on the weekend, as well as before and after work and when they’re home sick, a 2013 survey of more than 1,000 people by the American Psychological Association found.
(MORE: A Vacation Without Email?)
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This article is reprinted with permission from MarketWatch.com. © 2015 Dow, Jones & Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.