I wrote this on a forum the other day, and it seems like Christmas Eve Eve is a good day to post it here.
I started thinking about how the expectation level of clients in general has risen in regards to “availability”.
I think the media (especially the internet) has essentially done this to us – it’s truly turned us into a 24/7 society (most of you are old enough to remember when TV generally had test patterns all night. Does any station go dark now?)
I’ve noticed that I get e-mail from clients at all hours. Even managers in “9-5, M-F” jobs e-mail me from their laptops at 10pm on a Saturday. The typical vacation message doesn’t ever mention the word “vacation” (a weak, taboo word in the business world). Instead it says something like “out of the office”, and many say to reach them at their cell or e-mail. That’s not much of a vacation.
I regularly get someone contacting me on a Thursday, needing their (fairly large) project done by Monday morning. And it’s not just bad planning on their part – that used to be the case. Today, it’s generally expected. They actually “expect” me to work the weekend. I once took on one of these, and had a question on a Saturday – no response to my e-mail or phone call. Monday morning, the person was mad it wasn’t done. I said “well, you expected me to work the weekend, so I expect you to answer my question on a weekend”. He didn’t like that (and is no longer a client.)
I think this is going to get worse, too. Right now, people under 21 (or so) have been brought up on the internet, e-mail, and texting. Immediate responses are 100% EXPECTED. These young people have no idea that their current social expectation is going to translate to the business world when they enter it. Someone who is a 19 year old “5,000 texts a month” person today is going to be a department manager tomorrow. What will they be like in ten years? What will their expectations be? If they text a subordinate (or a vendor) on a Saturday night, will they wait until Monday for a response? And how are they going to react when their boss texts them on Sunday afternoon?
It’s interesting (and somewhat scary.) Personally, I’ll resist it as much as I can, but I think it will start costing me in a decade.
Merry Christmas, everyone.