Pulling the Plug

Last week I received a text on my flip phone while I was in an NAA staff meeting.

For those of you smartphone folks who can’t reach far back enough in your memory to recall the sound, it’s a series of three loud beeps.

“Lauren, I think your pager went off,” said one cruel co-worker who shall not be named (rhymes with Jeremy Figoten). 

Unless I have a computer nearby, it’s technologically impossible for me to be connected to my work email when I’m at home or on vacation. I also choose to vacation in remote national parks where there is no phone signal, period. I’d love to check in at the office, but I just can’t. It’s a real shame.

Preserving a healthy work/life balance is something I take very seriously. It’s up there with “only floss the teeth you want to keep” and “just shake the wrinkles out of your clothes” in my rules to live by. But I’m also not the owner of a multi-million dollar asset or a leasing agent who’s trying to hit her occupancy goal for the month. I understand that despite your best intentions, sometimes work follows you home. (And if you ride the 25A bus, sometimes a creepy man, too).

However, some apartment management companies are trying to buck that trend.

In an effort to set a positive example and encourage a stronger work/life balance, Buckingham’s management team decided to test an email “shut down” of its email server between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. for all corporate employees. Just enough time to settle in before “Parks and Recreation.”

Case-by-case exceptions are made based on special projects and circumstances, such as working with individuals in different time zones but, for the most part, employees are expected to abide by the shutdown period. The spirit of the initiative is to work hard during your scheduled hours and then unplug.

One Buckingham employee says although it was hard to break the habit, most people have since adjusted to the email black-out period (which has since been pushed back to 9 p.m.) and, as a result, felt a much needed reprieve from that urge to constantly check their email.

Since the program’s implementation, face-to-face interaction among corporate employees has reportedly increased, as well as viewership of NBC’s Thursday night comedies. 

They could use all the help they can get.

For more, check out “Pulling the Plug” in the December issue of units Magazine, which mails Dec. 12. 

Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager of Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).