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Contacted outside of work

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Tasha89, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. Tasha89

    Tasha89 New commenter

    i know as a teacher we do not have set working hours as such, but I find myself regularly receiving text messages, WhatsApp messages and emails from one particular staff member. These can be at any time of night, early hours of the morning and during the weekends.

    I got to the point I removed emails coming through to my phone to ensure I got a work life balance but now they seem to be texting and whatsapping about work related things.

    I am unsure how to approach this with them as they are my DHT. I never reply outside of work but would like to respond in some way to stop future messages coming through.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    ROSIEGIRL Lead commenter

    Talk to them?
    Explain that you really value your weekends as time to spend with family/friends/dog/whatever so that's why you don't reply to their messages.

    It sounds like they're having problems switching off or organising themselves - the sort of person that has to do things there and then while they remember.

    There are other steps you could take if that doesn't work, but start gently, politely by asking them to save messages for work time. And keep not replying!
  3. Tasha89

    Tasha89 New commenter

    Thank you.

    I will try although I would’ve thought that it will go in one ear and out the other.

    I recently gave a staff meeting showing how you can schedule emails should you be working and not want to interrupt other people’s weekends so the email is received in work hours and yet it is clear he has not used this.

    Am I better to write it as an email during work hours so I have the record of the conversation? And maybe BCC my head teacher in the email?

    ROSIEGIRL Lead commenter

    I think that's maybe a step up the line, if the conversation doesn't work?

    You don't want this to escalate into a confrontation - I'd try the informal chat first.

    Can you mute them on WhatsApp for the weekend and then unmute them when you need to? Is it possible to set an out of office reply to one particular email address or block/unblock easily?

    I'm not massively techie, as you can see, but you obviously are so maybe use those skills?
    jlishman2158 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  5. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Set your email to auto-reply to this person out of hours. Message such as "Thank you for your message. I'm currently away from my computer but will endeavour to respond in the next working day."
    Then let your email program do the work for you.
  6. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Occasional commenter

    Next time, just have a brief word and say that any work related communication should come directly through on email, and not WhatsApp or Text Message as this is technically an ‘invasion of privacy’- if it is a work mobile phone, then it’s different, but it looks like it’s your personal phone. If after this, they continue to message you- save all the screenshots and talk to the Headteacher about it.
    I’m a HT myself and I insist that all work communication goes through the approved channels of the email system we use in school- it’s more professional. Although I have a WhatsApp group for myself and my SLT, I would never have an ‘official’ one for all the staff. I know some members of staff do, but it’s nothing official.
  7. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    It’s a conversation with the DH. Regarding work account emails I always say that we can remove notifications and not check in to work email accounts. Which is what you’ve done- as rightly you say that people clear their workflow at different times (who clears theirs between 8.30 and 15.30 in a school?). However, texts/ WhatsApps are less easy to ignore, unless on a work phone. I think it’s thinking what’s reasonable and helpful communication and, importantly, what’s necessary communication. Early morning 6.30 a.m onwards (when getting ready for work) is very different to 4 a.m. I’m added to an operational arrangements WhatsApp group, which is helpful to be involved in, however it’s a weekday morning one and saves all involved multiple layers of communication. I’ve known teachers in multiple schools to really like being part of WhatsApp communication between each other, so it might be that the DH thinks it’s welcomed.

    If you copy in your HT, it’s a cc and not a bcc. This would be after a polite conversation, as suggested by others.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    What @ROSIEGIRL said.

    Catch flies with honey! Softly, softly at first. If s/he doesn't seem to be getting it then escalate. But keep it informal at first.
  9. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    Whatsapp allows you to 'silence' a conversation. Get into the habit of silencing this one when you leave school each afternoon.
  10. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    I once worked with a very astute colleague who brought up a similar thing in a whole meeting on a training day. She managed to dovetail it into a discussed about boundaries and use of media. The leadership had to publicly say that it was not reasonable to be expected to be available for work 24/7 all academic year type of thing. She was asked to name and shame and she politely declined with a wonderful graciousness citing professionalism and that we could all agree on boundaries without finger pointing type of thing. This was not a boarding school BTW.

    You could speak to the HT about having it raised at the next full staff meeting. The DHT then has a chance to hear the instruction from the HT.

    If you work in an establishment that refuses to accept such boundaries then you should consider leaving.
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Do other staff have the same kind of problems? If so talk to the head and deputy about setting up a code of conduct and ensure there is a clause that says texts are only to be used for emergency communications (such as school closures) and whatsapp groups, if they must exist, for social chit chat. All work communications must be made via the school email system and staff are advised not to have the emails go to their personal phones.

    For now, simply block the numbers and ignore them. It's easy and what I do.
  12. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    Funnily enough! That's what I was going to suggest. I only contact my manager with work related queries outside of working hours via work e-mail or the occasional text if it's urgent and wait for him to reply. If I did otherwise, he would very soon tell me in a professional manner to eff off! I know that he and other colleagues know that I would do the same as we have boundaries. Block the person on what's app and your mobile and turn on your auto responder for your e-mail address. Just tell the person when you get back that you don't use the media in question after working hours/like me switch my phone off.
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    LOLOLOL I need to learn how to say this in a professional manner...

    But I know what you mean and it would be the same in my school!
    ATfan likes this.
  14. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    If you find out, let me know as I don't how to yet either! :) I'm sure he does though, so I'll ask him as well when I go back to work (we are currently off for the summer)! LOL!
  15. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    This thread is unbelievable. Every single recommendation points to sowing seeds of mistrust at some point.
    Why has the most obvious advice not yet appeared?
    G;o to this person.
    Say to them "please stop sending me messages at the hours you do on the media you do. Please only send me work related stuff on my school email. Thank you for understanding"
    Why anybody suggests you mention it to others,or cc others , or refer it to your head is beyond me. Ridiculous. And, tbh, slightly underhand and cowardly.
    Tell them.To their face.
    And if this doesn't work and they persist in the messages, then respond directly to that message via the same means they sent it, thus
    "WHAT are you doing sending me more messages when I expressly requested them by email only. If you are inconvenienced by this, please ask HT to issue me with a directive to accept your messages".Get them to do the tattle telling...on themselves. Which they wont. So they'll stop.

    How much involvement of other people can there be when it is simply a matter of managing the situation by stating it is a nuisance?
    You asking whether you ought to cc in the HT saddens me deeply. That is the how mistrust is sown and can grow so quickly. We've all been there.
  16. Tasha89

    Tasha89 New commenter

    Thank you all for your responses. There is more to the story but I didn’t think that the rest was needed but after a couple of responses maybe I should add a little more.

    They had previously set up a group chat that I silenced and did not reply to or read any of the messages. I made my thoughts clear on the chat and I have a feeling it was the headteacher who became involved which is why the chat was deleted.

    I will speak to the DH again tomorrow and reinforce my thoughts. Hopefully I will not have to take the matter any further.

    I will also suggest we look at communication during a staff meeting and agree when is appropriate and when not and have an agreement which platforms are suitable. Personally I agree with the user who said all through email unless an emergency.

    Thank you again for all your responses and advice.
    agathamorse, SundaeTrifle and ATfan like this.
  17. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    The solution seems obvious to me, unless I am misunderstanding something. People can send whatever they like whenever they like but recipients should be under no obligation even to read them, let alone reply, except during working hours. So just ignore them and reply when you are back in school!
    Pomza, bevdex, harsh-but-fair and 8 others like this.

    ROSIEGIRL Lead commenter

    Leave the group too!
  19. SantasElf

    SantasElf New commenter

    I agree - surely the solution is obvious: allow the person to send what they want when they want and treat it as if it had arrived first thing on the next working day. Simples.

    Some people do work at funny times of day - caring responsibilities, excessive workload etc - so I'd say cut them some slack.

    After all, none of what you have said tells me that they have asked for an out of hours response (which would indeed be not appropriate unless for some sort of crisis).

    My old line manager had a tagline on his email which said 'I may send mail outside the standard working day but I do not expect you to respond outside working hours' - maybe tactfully suggest that to your colleague?
    agathamorse, nomad, GeordieKC and 2 others like this.
  20. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Yes, this ^^^
    agathamorse and nomad like this.

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